Saturday, December 26, 2009

Time Hollow Review

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Time Hollow is one of those games that had a great concept, but was implemented poorly. Initially I was hooked to this game, but then it was getting overly repetitive, dull, and annoying. I did manage to finish this regardless, because at on point it was an interesting game.

Warning: Risk of spoilers from reading the review.

Story: Time Hollow's story starts with Ethan Kairos (English version anyway) who wakes up on his 17th birthday finding out that his parents have disappeared 12 years ago. This is strange for him because he remembered last night he was just talking to them about his birthday. He is also seeing weird flashbacks and has no idea why he's getting them.

He also finds a pen called the "Hollow Pen" which apparently creates a small hole to the past. You can use this to fix things in the past so the present may also be fixed. Throughout the whole game Ethan uses this pen to fix things, from his parent's missing to his friend disappearing, so on and so forth.

Now, this deals with time traveling, so it at one point will start to get confusing.
What really confused me though was when Irving suddenly became Jack Twombly. If anyone can explain how time traveling can change your identity altogether other than killing that person in the past and changing your name to his, please comment, because that confused me in so many ways. There may be some loopholes and inconsistencies at this point due to all the mingling with the past, but let's overlook that (except for the Irving changing identity bit).

What am I talking about? There's a part in the game where Irving Onegin goes back to the past and seals himself there. In present time, someone who looks EXACTLY like Irving Onegin (and technically is still him) appears and becomes Jack Twombly (who note is a different person altogether and in no way related to Onegin), Ethan Kairos' homeroom teacher. Ethan of course does not understand how it's possible (neither can I) and Irving explains that he got rid of the original Jack in this reality. Yes, it doesn't make sense. This is probably the weirdest part, that also does not make sense AT all to me. Time traveling is confusing enough, but CHANGING IDENTITIES?

Gameplay: It has a simple core gameplay, and that's all it has. This made the game repetitive, and thus boring.

Here's the procedure:

1. You will be having uncomfirmed flashbacks. These are your guides when you start "digging" into the past using the Hollow Pen. They are uncomfirmed because you have no information about it. This is where you go asking information from people (You USUALLY go to the library for this).

2. Once you have the information you need, update/confirm your flashback (System Menu -> Flashbacks-> Click related flashback) and you can now start digging. Note you have to do this ALL the time, because the game will not update the flashback automatically for you. Honestly, this is a waste of tapping on the screen which could irritate some players.

3. Go to the area where the flashback is, dig, and do the appropriate fixing. (This is probably the ONLY variation you're getting from the game - you can add/remove items, examine stuff or talk to people if you can).

Now, initially this was a cool idea, but there's hardly any variety to it and it doesn't get any harder than what I just stated. Other than gathering intel, this is ALL you do...and it sucks. I think if it weren't for the slightly interesting story, I probably would have not finished it.

Another annoying thing is that this game is TOO linear. Even when the facts are really obvious that you think you can start digging, you can't. There are still certain steps to do to progress the game, regardless how unnecessary they may be.

The game also had some parallax scrolling, but it was very minimal and thus didn't give much depth to the static background. The developers sadly didn't maximize it to somehow make the game a little more challenging.

Art: This is probably one of the good points to the game. It had nice art. It had a lot of art to give the characters expression and personality. It made it eye-catching. Their videos were interesting too like a mini-sode to make things more interesting. While I do love games with cutscenes and stuff, this is still a game after all.

Characters: I don't really have much to say about them, since there was nothing interesting about them. Some barely have any impact to the story at all.

Overall, this game had good potential but it was overly simple and linear that could bore the player. This may have had been better as an anime series than an actual game.

Oh, and for those who DID finish the game once, just so you know you can play it again and given the right choices you can actually just move to the last chapter without having to do a lot of other stuff. Yes, am serious. Your second playthrough can be finished in a matter of minutes. From the first part of the game where you are at home with your folks, you can end up going to the school the next day (As if you were on the last chapter) to make everything right.

I dunno if this implies that the story could have been MUCH shorter than the one I went through, or the developers just wanted to place this for a kick, but there you have it.

That's all for now. I'm off to play Kingdom Hearts on the DS.


  1. I'm actually thinking of getting myself a DS. Haha. But I dunno what to play in it. Haha.

  2. @penngwen: haha, there are a lot of nice games to play on the DS. It all depends on what type of game you want to play.