Thursday, 20 May 2010

Time Hollow

Publisher - Konami

Developer – Tenky

Format - Nintendo DS

I've been trying to track down this game for a while, I enjoy point and click games on the DS (think Hotel Dusk and the Ace Attorney games), but they all tend to suffer from a similar problem. They struggle to justify their retail price. Time hollow takes between five and six hours to finish; most of which are full of gripping story but the point and click genres nemesis rears it head aplenty. Wandering about because you missed a tiny detail is frequent and slows things down to the pace of a three legged spider limping about it's web.

Playing as Ethan Kairos (this is one of the subtler names in the whole game, every character is named with a time based pun in mind, even the pet cat) you inherit the hollow pen which allows you to open up portals back in time if certain circumstances are fulfilled. The overarching story concerns returning reality back to how the main character remembers it before obtaining the pen. Soon discovering the dangers of changing the past Ethan is over-run changing this and that to avoid that pesky thing called consequence.

The game is pretty much completely linear. Occasionally you can complete one objective before another but that's it. Calling this a game could very well be where my problem lies. This isn't a game. This is a story, an interactive story. So lets judge it as one.

The length suits it. Ethan's reality is constantly changing and at some points it can get somewhat overwhelming to keep track of it all and towards the end thinking about the amount of parallel worlds that must have been spawned as a result of changing time starts to make your brain feel like a chocolate rabbit that's lounging next to an open fire.

This is where I don't quite know what to think. It's short which suits it, but I want more for my money. This game never deserved a full retail price of £30/$40. It has good points but as many ones that drag it down.

The character design is great but the music is terrible. After listening to the same few loops of sounds over and over again I felt like I'd rather be listening to whales getting harpooned, it'd be less repetitive for one. After say the first chapter turn the volume off and just listen to your own music, Time Hollows doesn't change, hell yours might even set a better mood.

The games interface is fine, I'd have liked for it to have been tweaked and somethings smoothed out but it works without hassle.

I paid £14/$20 for this game and I struggle to say it was worth it. The puzzles are minimal, this isn't Hotel Dusk where you are guiding the protagonist around actively and feel like you're a necessary cog in the process of solving the mysteries going on. In time Hollow you feel like a spectator following Ethan around, a passive observer at best.

If you see this game for say £8/$12 or under, pick it up. It's enthralling while it lasts.

Price Verdict - £8/£12

Ways it could have been pushed up – Lengthening this game by adding to the story would only bore the people playing it. But maybe if they had adapted a choose your own adventure gimmick (multiple endings) where upon once most of the endings are unlocked you activate the true ending could have added to both the length of the game and it's re-playability.

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