Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Time Hollow DS Game Review

If you haven't figured it out by now, I love anime style games and this one was an obvious choice to play... even if it is a VERY short game... and the game play is extremely linear, though the story redeems it slightly.

The design of the box art is actually very true to the game and the story, and the whole idea of the portal and time freezing on the other side... which I like about this... It is simple and features the main character, Ethan Kairos, who will be the one doing the time-jumping.

Time jumping?? Let me set the scene. Ethan Kairos, on the eve of his sixteenth birthday is told he will receive a present from his father. He finds a magical pen that can open time portals and after a flashback occurs, he finds that his father and mother disappeared over 12 years ago.

Using the pen and clues he finds from people and places, he can unlock all the information of his flashbacks and draw a portal to that time and place, changing the events that occurred. The main story of the game is for Ethan to rescue his parents, but this isn't put in focus until the very end. Side plots stem from this main one, including:

- Saving Ethan's uncle Derek multiple times...
- Saving Kori...
- Saving Ashley...
- Saving Jason's dog...

The game plays out over six chapters, each representing a new day. You begin by getting flashbacks which usually means something is wrong and you must unlock all the information in order to change it.

This is done through travelling to different places via the map, and exiting with the top right icon... I find this extremely tedious and slow although there is no other way!! Speaking to people is easy, although finding them is another matter... Given the limited locations, just trial and error will get you by when you are stuck. In this way, the game play is extremely linear and there is absolutely no room for deviation- you'd just be visiting locations with no events of interest!

Once you have found all the clues, the pen will automatically start glowing in the correct location and you can draw a ring around the area you want to reach through to the past. The "life" bar at the top indicates how many times you can open a portal, and when that is drained, it is game over. I have never ran out of life, not even close, as you can recharge your life by finding Sox (Ethan's cat) around the neighbourhood.

What I do like about this game is the comic book style replay of events and the short movie clips (thankfully voiced) that are shown. This animates the game and makes the story so much more enjoyable to watch. I really like the story and the deja vu element, but as a game it just doesn't work. It is too linear and boring to play. My only motivation was to find the ending!

Speaking about endings, it was not substantial at all. The short ending is unjustified after so much hard work playing it. I don't want to spoil it but it was vague and I wish they'd just made it so that something happens beyond returning to normality!

NOTE: there is a slightly different ending after you've finished the whole game which is interesting to watch, although it doesn't warrant another play through. I advise you find a FAQ, as it can be done within five minutes of the second play through.

The game can be controlled by the D-pad and buttons or using the stylus. I prefer using the stylus as it is so much smoother and easier to control.

As the game is so linear, I finished the game within a few days, playing sparsely. This can most likely be completed within 5-10 hours.

The anime style drawings of the game are nice and the movie scenes are relayed very well. I just wish there was more of them!! The opening sequence is fantastic and very engrossing. I love the song!!! The music throughout is nothing special, but can be listened to. It adds a slight mysticism but nothing amazing.

This isn't a game. It is an engrossing story that uses game elements for the story to be slowly revealed. It is done in a very un-gamely way which turns out to be a short, linear and boring game. The story however, is deep, engrossing and absolutely fantastic. It has great potential, but the characters lacked depth, the history of the pen was non-existent and the freedom to roam lacking. If only they used the money on the game to make a movie instead.

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