Time and Eternity Preview
JRPG fans can always count on NIS America. In the days when “genre confusion” is a very real and very frustrating reality, old-school followers of the niche genre must be selective. Thankfully, NIS and a variety of Japanese developers, such as Gust, Level-5 and Image Epoch, continue to cater to that crowd. A great example of that would be the upcoming Time and Eternity, which features beautiful hand-drawn artistry and a surprisingly unique theme. The gameplay will be a blend of traditional and real-time role-playing elements, and the adventure should prove to be awfully entertaining.
At the start, you are about to get married. That may be an odd beginning but intense drama is right around the corner… Before Toki, the flame-haired fiancé, can say “I do,” a mysterious group of assassins crash the wedding and attempt to take her down. At that moment, Toki turns into a blonde killing machine who eliminates the attackers without breaking a sweat. Thus begins a strange but hopefully engrossing quest where you control Toki and Towa, the two “dual souls” of the former bride. The man who was to be her husband finds himself inside Toki/Towa’s pet dragon, Drake. So yeah, there’s some weirdness going on, but that’s to be expected.
Toki/Towa will be able to switch back and forth at some point during her adventure, and each side of her soul will have special abilities. As you progress, you will earn more control over each side of this complex individual. As for Drake, the player won’t directly control him; the useful dragon will contribute to combat whenever – and however – he sees fit. The battles are in real-time and you can control Toki/Towa’s distance from her foes. She will have access to ranged and melee commands, while she can block, access fresh commands from a pop-up menu, and dodge with the left analog stick. Your success will be partly predicated upon your ability to react to anticipate your opponent’s moves.
Fans of the genre will enjoy the gorgeous presentation, which is a blend of the aforementioned hand-drawn animation and standard 3D environments. Characters should look pretty damn great, and some of the artwork is pretty impressive. What will be even more interesting is learning about how the relationship between Toki/Towa and her former groom (now in the dragon) progresses. It’s an interesting twist to the clichéd “save the world” theme found in many JRPGs and hopefully, the writers really focus on that particular element. As for the combat, I’m more of a fan of hybrid systems that aren’t quite so cemented in real-time action, but this mechanic obviously has lots of promise.
Time and Eternity will release exclusively on the PlayStation 3 on July 16. For those of you who enjoyed games like Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and titles in the Atelier series, this should be right up your alley. Remember that micromanagement and strategy will go hand-in-hand with reaction time and dexterity, as there are combined elements here. The game might almost start to feel like an in-depth fighting game due to the reported speed and stylish presentation of the combat. However, beneath that flashy exterior is a world map, traditional RPG exploration and character development, and what should be a compelling plot. It might be a great way for JRPG fans to escape the summer gaming doldrums.
5/9/2013 Ben Dutka