But whilst Ni No Kuni was hand-drawn by the legendary Studio Ghibli – whose fantastic animes such as My Neighbour Totoro, Howls Moving Castle and KiKi’s Delivery Service hold a deep place in my heart – the beautiful looks transcend into the gameplay and the moving story, which is also brilliantly acted, and a pleasure to play, making for a truly breathtaking experience.
Whilst Time and Eternity is also hand-drawn, the overall game isn’t quite as magical. In all fairness, as it is a JRPG, those that are looking to buy TaE are already familiar with the over-the-top antics common in JRPGs, but the repetitive nature of cutscenes are sometimes bizarre, even for fans.
There are a handful of animations that get used frequently, followed by a quick flash of the screen as they switch to a new one, which isn’t that bad once you get accustomed to it, but it is a far cry from the enchanting Ni No Kuni.
The English acting is also, shall we say, cringeworthy. Sexual humour is of the essence with most of Zack’s lines, but they’re delivered mostly with some awkwardness. On the other hand, and in the same light, they’re similar to what you’ll find in actual anime, so its difficult to be too put off if you’re a fan of animes.
The game takes place at a wedding (yours!) between Toki and her fiancé Zack. Just as the service is swinging on, there is an assassin attack, and as Zack jumps to defend Toki, he is killed. But not before muttering, “Dying a hero…chicks will dig this”.
Upon the death of her fiance, Toki’s rage brings out her meaner alter ego, Towa. Now joined by Towa and her pet dragon (who is inhabited by Zack’s soul) Toki must travel back in time to prevent the attack.
This begins the story, but in all honesty, the poor acting means the player never actually takes away any particular story. My experience with this is that after some trips to the hospital with my pregnant fiancée, I didn’t get to play TaE for around two days. But even after such a short time, I couldn’t remember what had happened, so I had to load an earlier save and repeat what I’d done in order to gain some story back.
Two days. 48 hours, and I’d forgotten. That’s not a sign of great storytelling.
Aesthetically, TaE is rather pleasant. As stated earlier, the characters are hand-drawn, and you see your 2D Toki/Towa exploring 3D worlds (dungeons). To start with, this looks really nice, but the backgrounds lack any feeling, which is a shame. Exploring also leads to random battle encounters in the traditional RPG fashion, and whilst some may find this annoying – especially when you just want to run to save point – it is regular fair in this genre.
Battles run as real-time turn-based attacks, but the enemies attack pretty much the same way, with identical enemies even attacking with the same attacks, in the same order, which is a shame as it takes away any sense of tactical flair.
It’s hard to reccomend Time and Eternity to anyone other than JRPG fans, and it’s hard to find a good reason to pick it up even if you’re a fan. The colourful aesthetics are really the most attractive point, but even these fall flat, which is a genuine shame, as the ideas in Time and Eternity are all really great – they’re just not delivered well at all.
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Time and Eternity is rated M 12+ (Mature) by the ESRB for Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Fantasy Violence.