Time and Eternity (PS3) Box Art(http://nisamerica.com/games/time_and_eternity)  Rated T for Teen by ESRB.  Just when I thought Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) as a whole were turning around and all the hype surrounding certain franchises was warranted, Time and Eternity comes along. Personally I am all for cutscenes and heavy story elements, but sometimes a game can go too far, and Time and Eternity is just that kind of game.

Time and Eternity (PS3) Box ArtTime and Eternity (PS3) Logo(http://nisamerica.com/games/time_and_eternity)  Rated T for Teen by ESRB.  Just when I thought Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) as a whole were turning around and all the hype surrounding certain franchises was warranted, Time and Eternity comes along. Personally I am all for cutscenes and heavy story elements, but sometimes a game can go too far, and Time and Eternity is just that kind of game.

 



Presentation:
Released in Japan as Toki Towa, Time and Eternity follows the story of a young girl named Toki and the wake of a tragedy which occurs on her wedding day. Toki is set to marry Zack, her one true love, but just before she can start her happy new life, ninjas break in and wreck everything. Zack is fatally wounded, and in desperation Toki’s alternate personality, the wild and reckless Towa appears, rewinding time and setting off a chain reaction of fantastical, if not typical JRPG events.

The story of Toki Towa remains at least a little interesting, but never grows to anything to write home about. Characters are either relatively unique like the title character Toki, or completely phoned in stereotypes of the genre. The world itself is also fairly bland and lacks that certain spice that other genre outings like Hyper Dimension or Disgaea have.

Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots

Graphics:
Time and Eternity’s singular draw is the visuals. Hand-animated character art was the most exciting aspect of the game. As for months, the gaming world was abuzz about how the unique visual style could change the face of art direction in JRPGs. Quite conversely, the result feels less like the breath of fresh air it should be and more ill conceived and poorly done. While the character art and environments are beautiful at times, the bulk of the game is plagued with static backgrounds and portrait style conversations. Further, the animations, which should have shouldered the responsibility of carrying the game’s visuals, fell extremely flat with chunky and stuttering animations. As a whole the game feels like a very long series of missed opportunities.

Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots

Sound:
I wish that I could sing the praises of Time and Eternity. I wish that the game followed other entries in the JRPG genre and had a brilliant soundtrack. Unfortunately, the sound design in Toki Towa is another mediocre at best attempt. Some of the songs are catchy, but a great many of the tracks feel like overused stingers or ever so slight remixes of the main theme. Voice work is marginally better, with some competent Japanese dubbing. But since most of the text isn’t actually acted, another opportunity to draw the player in was greatly missed here.

Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots
 

Gameplay:
If you have ever played a turn based JRPG with a “real time” battle system, then you have played Toki Towa as well. Nothing new was done here–select attacks and abilities, watch the animation, and then wait for your next turn. A large amount of forced grinding and backtracking further hurts any semblance of quality in the title. Sadly the over world lacks charm and scale, making traversal boring and painful. The fact that the game fits so solidly into the “been there, done that” category is a real shame. 

Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots   Time and Eternity (PS3) Screenshots

Conclusion:
Time and Eternity had a lot going for it. There are so many interesting ideas in the art direction could have carried the mediocre gameplay pretty far. Unfortunately, an uncomfortable amount of unpolished assets hurt the overall package. Toki Towa lacks the visual quality, audio quality, and gameplay to support the actually decent story. As it stands, I cannot recommend Toki Towa/Time and Eternity to anyone, even hardcore JRPG fans will be hard pressed to enjoy this game.

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