Time and Eternity Review

An incoherent mess of ideas done badly, Time and Eternity is a train wreck of a role-playing game.

It's undeniable that many games from Japan that make it to our shores--particularly in the role-playing genre--have strong influences from anime. Great role-playing game series like Disgaea, Persona, and Tales feature visual and storytelling elements heavily influenced by the art form. Developer Imageepoch aspired to go one step higher with Time and Eternity, billing the game as "playable anime." Unfortunately, the end product is not only a showcase for nearly every negative stereotype ascribed to anime, but a bad RPG to boot.

I'm not connected to time magic. Can I leave?

Time and Eternity tells the story of Zack and Princess Toki, a couple of lovebirds who live in a secluded fantasy island kingdom. On the day Toki and Zack are set to tie the knot, a group of assassins disrupt the proceedings, and Zack is killed protecting Toki. The incident brings out some of Toki's innermost secrets: not only does she share a body with the soul of another woman, Towa, but her family possesses magical time-manipulating powers. Toki and Towa decide to travel back in time to piece together the how and why and stop the disaster before it happens--though they are unaware that Zack's soul has come along with them, trapped in the body of Toki's pet miniature dragon, Drake.

Even as the plot setup and central cast are being introduced, Time and Eternity seems determined to make you dislike it. Zack, the male hero--and the character whose perspective you follow--seems more interested in off-color thoughts and remarks and being "manly" than he is in Toki and Towa's genuine affection and well-being. Toki and Towa are affectionate toward Zack in a way that feels very uncomfortable at times, given Zack's questionable behavior. Toki's friends are one-note anime archetypes (ditzy wedding planner, shrill rich girl who flaunts her status, and boy-crazy teenager) who offer no real character development and simply exist to set up bad jokes. Non-player characters you meet over the course of the story are similarly irritating, typically featuring a single humorous (read: obnoxious) trait that defines their entire personality. It's hard to be invested in anyone's plight when almost every player in the story is unlikable. Though that's not to imply that the story is good; Time and Eternity features some of the most insipid plot twists you could possibly conceive for the time-travel concept.

But the character development isn't the only thing that falls flat. Time and Eternity's biggest hook is its unique visual style. Rather than being polygon-rendered models or sprites, every action of every character in the game is drawn in high-definition, traditional animation sequences. This approach sounds interesting on paper, but the problems with its execution begin to materialize almost right away. For starters, you immediately notice that most of the animated characters bear only a passing resemblance to the game's illustrations and concept art.

What you're not seeing: incredibly unconvincing "flight" animation.

Just a few minutes later, you start to become keenly aware of constant animation sequence recycling. Reused and repeating animation is certainly nothing new in games, but the jerky, awkward motions of the characters and inconsistent frame rates make the rampant reuse both more noticeable and more unappealing. (As an example, you can play an impromptu metagame just counting how many times Toki and Towa do their weird leg-crossing/uncrossing animation during the teatime sequences.)

The cheap feel of the animation becomes even more pronounced when you see just how much palette-swapping goes on throughout the game. Toki and Towa share the bulk of their animations, but are simply colored differently, leading to motions that don't match the personality of the character in play. In addition, there are only a handful of enemy designs, but plenty of palette swaps for each one. But perhaps the worst visual effect comes from the juxtaposition of 2D animated models against the game's 3D backgrounds, leading to awkward camera angles, weird scene transitions, and disjointed character movements. (The backgrounds, lacking in detail as they may be, at least offer some pleasant use of color, which is probably the nicest thing you can say about the visuals.)

With its unappealing story and disconcerting visual style, the only thing that could save Time and Eternity would be fantastic gameplay. Alas, that savior is nowhere to be found; the game is riddled with utterly confusing and often aggravating design choices that make it a tedious slog. The adventuring portion of Time and Eternity follows the typical RPG questing formula: get objective, complete objective, learn story bits, get next objective. You frequently have to return home after quests, however, and endure the grating personalities of Toki's buddies over tea as they drop new leads for your next objective, which makes that traditional RPG questing formula especially irritating here. Side quests are plentiful, but they rarely break the mold of "kill X, investigate Y, or find Z," and since they generally involve exploring the same landscapes and fighting more palette-swapped foes, there's little incentive to do them.

This is a face that just screams "punch me, I'm a jerk."

Combat is a bit more interesting…at first. You control a single character--either Toki or Towa--in real time, fighting one-on-one against foes. There are two positions in combat, long range and close range, and the techniques available at each range are different. Ranges offer distinct advantages: it's easier to dodge attacks at long range, while close range allows you to shatter the enemy's defense. You can swap between ranges at will (unless the enemy has you cornered at close range), as well as guard to reduce damage from enemy attacks or sidestep to try to avoid them entirely.

By attacking, you also build SP, which can be used to unleash special attacks you've assigned to the face buttons or use time magic, which is accessed with L2. Since enemies take more damage at particular ranges and have certain weaknesses to elemental affiliations, you can use skill combinations to try to get the upper hand. Later on in the game, you can perform chemistry attacks that use both Toki/Towa and Drake's abilities in tandem.

This sounds like it could work well, but it falls apart in practice. The one-on-one format strips party-synergy strategy from combat, leaving it feeling very shallow. (Drake sometimes performs attacks and recovery skills, though these are out of your control.) The animation of Toki makes the controls feel awkward and disjointed, as though her movements suffer from constant input lag. Trying to attack and dodge with Toki and Towa is something like playing an old LaserDisc game, just with fewer onscreen button prompts. What initially seems like novel combat degenerates into a repetitive series of simple pattern memorization.

Combat in Time and Eternity is, simply put, not good.

Encountering strings of enemies one after the other makes battles even more aggravating--it's frustrating to smack down one palette-swapped bird only to fight another one (and another one) immediately afterward. To top it off, you can't manually change control between Toki and Towa at will. The two characters have somewhat different skill sets, making one more advantageous in certain battles, but they trade off only when a certain item is used or when you level up. This has the effect of suddenly leaving you with a character who doesn't fight as well against the enemies in an area because you made the mistake of gaining a level.

It's hard to find much positive to say about Time and Eternity. Its sole points of excellence are some nice illustrations and its superb soundtrack, featuring songs from Yuzo Koshiro (ActRaiser, Streets of Rage, and Etrian Odyssey), but everything else is an ill-conceived mess executed poorly. If you want to experience a beautiful anime-style role-playing game, you have many other choices, like the recent Ni no Kuni. It's best to leave Time and Eternity on the store shelves forevermore.

The Good
Great music
The Bad
2D characters look bizarre in the 3D enviroments.
Animation starts getting recycled almost immediately
Boring, simplistic combat with little strategy
Almost all of the characters are annoying and unlikable
3.5
Bad
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279 comments
daniel_gwinn_90
daniel_gwinn_90

this should have never come to the US it a war crime

TKavney92
TKavney92

I'm considering giving it a shot

MoldySponge
MoldySponge

I'm a little confused, so they reviewed this piece of junk, but where is the Tales of Xillia review, is it in progress even?  It's only in their TOP 10 games on the home page right now and while I am thoroughly enjoying Xillia myself it is interesting to see what other people give it.  Although judging by the thrashing they gave this game, to the point where the score is obviously lower than it should be maybe I don't want them reviewing a title that actually is good.

hhsquall
hhsquall

I enjoyed the game; though the 2D over 3D was a bit weird, the rest was good. On a side note, I like JRPG in general as well as anime.

One thing regarding JRPG reviews on GameSpot, & other famous (at least in NA) game review sites, is that I've found them biased towards JRPG genre in general. While many games with 'not-so-much-Japanese-and-anime-references' have more or less similar flaws, the rating on the said websites are higher.

So, dear GameSpot reviewers, if you want to review a JRPG, pick a reviewer who is into the genre! I don't write review for fighting games, as I hate them, no matter how well they are done! Because I don't see myself qualified to review a fighting game when I am biased.

And to the good users who go around picking games 'just to try and see if it is like animated version of your run-of-the-mill RPG, please hold on to your biased opinion, or please write a bit about your personal preferences before trashing a title. 


Just to clarify, I don't say this is anything above 7/10, or has much special to offer; It is indeed not Valkyria Cronicles, FF, or SO3 - SO4! I am trying to say that a gamer who enjoys a JRPG could find this title fun to play.

HyouVizer
HyouVizer

i could tell this game was gonna bomb but not this bad 

something a long the lines of a 6.5 but a 3.5 lmfao

BillyColeman
BillyColeman

Eh next time do a Vid Review and iv played worse the game was not very good but iv played things that were much more crappy 

Rock_Lord14
Rock_Lord14

Every JRPG gets the "Annoying characters" "award"(don't know what else to call it XP)- I'm sensing a pattern here and if this were a real problem, I think developers would've already stoped doing it... Well written review, though. Loved the part of "making the mistake of gaining a level" LOL. I haven't played the game so I won't comment on anything else but you were right about the awesome illustrations part I've only used T&E XMB themes ever since I found them and the box art looks really cool too. I might give it a try when the price drops

WantYouBad
WantYouBad

The "weeaboos" will love it no matter what, you know the lonely ponies.

Earthbound_X
Earthbound_X

Sounds like it could have been a bit better, if they let you switch between the characters at will, and not at level ups or item use.

humanoid_K
humanoid_K

You know, there is something called ANIME where you can have your good share of cliché and school girls with huge eyes talking shit here and there, and monsters poping out and cool dudes with efeminate characters and all that...Why would we need all that packed in a blueray disc that barely "plays" on a console? LOL

retsmot
retsmot

forget this, there's dragon's crown and xillia in 2 weeks. 

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

lol had a feeling this would be bad...... I'm sure weaboos will enjoy it though.... I'll wait for Tales of Xilia 

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

Two-dimensional characters with limited animations set in a 3D world can work well if the gameplay is great: Just look at the Paper Mario games!

IceJester45
IceJester45

Apparently, the preferred method of defending this game is to not defend it at all and instead attack first-person shooters. That really says something about this game.

malymac
malymac

Probably the second game I ever actually returned within the seven day period. Just going to wait for Xillia and Disgaea D2.

fbgbdk4
fbgbdk4

"you start to become keenly aware of constant animation sequence recycling."

Oh my god.... Animation recycling is the rule on all games, not the exception. Surprise: your walk animation in all games, even Call of Duty, is the same little walk animation repeated over and over.

Supabul
Supabul

Tales of Xillia please come out now

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Wow really..  Has anyone from gamespot ever played anything from NIS America other then Disgaea?  Nis America truly is a dev that honestly just caters to its fanbase all the while tries new things in their IP's.  If Time and Eternity sales well its pretty much certain the quality will go up, I say this because if anyone has played any of the alchemists series you can see a big jump and refinement from game to game not to mention Disgaea also.  Honestly if your not a fan of cliche anime themed games your probably just gonna hate it out right..

Big_Pecks
Big_Pecks

The design choices in this game are truly bad.

Tidus1012
Tidus1012

Getting the game when the price drops, wont take much.

jecomans
jecomans

It may of helped a little, but most of the issues are intentional design elements. More money wouldn't of helped with the bad characters, or with the look of it. I mean, the artwork was lovely, but the way they used it and the way the camera moved were obviously bad design choices. 

jovipman
jovipman

 nice  nice  nice  nice 

DahLong
DahLong

This game looks kind of boring

LGAR2000
LGAR2000

I'm amazed people act like this game isn't bad. It's horrible! If you like anime don't buy this, and go buy your favorite anime. Or save your money and buy a better JRPG like SMT or Tales. 

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

That's a chance i'm willing to take ;)

hhsquall
hhsquall

Tales of Xillia, Tales of Graces f, both are amazing games. I wouldn't bother looking for a review of a game that I really enjoy :)

Rock_Lord14
Rock_Lord14

@humanoid_K  (I tried to post this before but wasn't logged in and I can't find the comment so sorry if this is a re-post)

There's also a thing called ACTION MOVIES where you can have a good share of shooting and explosions and all that... Why would we need all that packed in a blue-ray disc? I wonder why COD games sell so much...

nealie
nealie

@fbgbdk4 At least in COD there is enough frames of animation that  it looks fluid,and smooth. Time,and Eternity on the other hand has like around 5-10 frames of animation give,or take which makes the motions look very awkward,and laggy. 

debatedevelop
debatedevelop

@Cl0ud retards should not reproduce wich obviously your parents failed horibly do the world a favor make sure to use a condom when you attempt at breeding.

jelloman18
jelloman18

@Cl0ud wth does Sony have to do with this? They didn't develop the game... fucking fan boy...

_tanjil_
_tanjil_

@BlackBaldwin That is the dumbest logic ever. Lets make a half assed game, if the consumers like it we'll make the next one slightly better and then the one after that a bit better...

Essentially what you're saying, whether you intend to or not. NIS is down to sell crap because they know their fans will buy it. Then reward them with something less crappy the next time so it feels like an improvement.

Which very well may be true as the game bombed in Japan, so why'd we get it here? So they could salvage whatever profit they can make here based on their guaranteed demographic.


nealie
nealie

@BlackBaldwin  NISA is a localization company,Time,and Eternity was made by Image Epoch,and Atelier series is made by GUST which is now owned by Tecmo Koei.

If Image Epoch insists on using hand drawn animation for the next installments then they will really need Time,and Eternity to sell in the high thousands to even millions,or else we will end up with the same result. I'm being serious as the hand drawn animations eating up most of the budget is what lead to many poor aspects in the game itself. 

santinegrete
santinegrete

@hhsquall hell yeah, I purchased both without waiting for the review (wich took weeks)

Stardust7
Stardust7

@MoldySponge  @hhsquall Tales of Vesperia is awesome ( characters , story , graphics ,everything about it is good ) ,but Tales of Graces F is not so good ..I mean, Its not a bad game ,but There's no comparing it with Vesperia ... Graces is Kinda boring ...I pre-ordered Xillia ,I hope it is so good as Vesperia..

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@ANUBISZER0 someone who's so obsessed with Japan they think everything japanese is superior even when it's obviously not

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Yes mr  expect who knows, all I was pointing out was the obvious track record of NISA and their games anything new they LICENSE is always on the LOW side out of the gate.  The quality of the games always gets better in the later entries.  Heck even Hyperdimension Neptunia gradually improved in later entries to the series.

hhsquall
hhsquall

@Stardust7

Tales of Xillia is awesome! I pre-ordered the collector's edition and got it on Aug. 6th with Milla's figurine. The game is amazing, I only played a little, but reminds me a great deal of Star Ocean 3 which I consider as one of the best RPGs of all time.  

Hope you get Xillia soon and enjoy it :)

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@HyouVizer And actually Otaku is anyone obsessed with things like anime and manga.... a weaboo is generally a non-asian that's overly obsessed with asian culture..... I'm sure a weaboo would love to be called an "Otaku" as it's just a Japanese word for obsession and it's extremely hard to insult a weaboo with a Japanese word 

HyouVizer
HyouVizer

  @uglypinkmoose

actually the correct term is otaku meaning a person that is obsessed with asian culture, and weaboo is a derogatory term for it 

nealie
nealie

@BlackBaldwin Image Epoch doesn't have a established track record of improving on their console games so there really is no guarantee  that the next installment will be better. 

I'll also point out that games like HDN,Disgaea,and Atelier managed to establish a niche fan base with the first installment in most of the markets. Time,and Eternity on the other hand has already failed in Japan,and the fan base in the West is almost non existent. 

Time and Eternity More Info

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  • First Released
    • PS3
    Time and Eternity is a hand-drawn animation RPG where you will witness your own death at your wedding before traveling back in time with your wife-to-be in order to track down your killer.
    6.6
    Average User RatingOut of 87 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Time and Eternity
    Developed by:
    Image Epoch
    Published by:
    NIS America, Bandai Namco Games
    Genres:
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes