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E3 2008: Time Hollow Hands-On

We change time with a magic pen in this Nintendo DS adventure.


Time Hollow is a traditional point-and-click-style adventure game for the Nintendo DS. You play as Ethan, a young boy with a big problem--his family is lost and you have no idea where they are. Luckily, you are armed with the hollow pen, a tool that can draw a hole in the universe and directly change things that have happened in the past. Though Ethan is only concerned with finding his family and helping fix his friends' many problems, there is also an evil person with his own hollow pen out there causing all sorts of chaos. We went hands-on with this interesting adventure and came away impressed.

The gameplay centers more on talking to people and accumulating clues than the pixel-hunt style of other adventure games. You are shown brief flashbacks with the appropriate information (who, what, where, and when) missing. It's your job to fill in those blanks, figure out a solution, and change the past to make sure it never becomes a problem in the present.

In the time we played, two sisters got into a fight over lost money and the younger one ran away. In most other adventure games, you would have to set out to find the lost sibling, but when you wield the hollow pen, you face no such restrictions. Instead, we were supposed to stop the fight from ever happening. We found the missing money (hidden conveniently in an envelope) and then tried to figure out exactly when and where the sisters fought. Once we had all the data, we drew a circle into the past with the pen and slyly placed the money between them. With the money found, they had no reason to fight. Problem prevented.

The use of the hollow pen is restricted to certain moments. Only after we had all the data and the precious envelope were we allowed to use the pen and change time. You're not allowed to just change the past however you see fit and let whatever damage you caused stand; you have to play responsibly.

The game takes place over eight days, with each taking an hour or more depending on your adventuring proficiency. The portion we played was certainly promising, though it does seem to focus more on story and character development than supersleuthing. It will certainly be interesting to see what sort of crazy time-changing ideas are in the final product. Time Hollow is scheduled to come out this fall.

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