Time Hollow Review: No Time Like The Present

Konami’s latest DS title, “Time Hollow” might as well have been named “Butterfly Effect: The Game,” since it borrows so heavily from the scientific theory that the movie was based on. The basic gist of the theory (and the game) is that if you go back in time and change something, no matter how small it is, it will have some kind of repercussions on the future. If you can wrap your head around that concept, and enjoy tinkering with the past courtesy of a pretty sweet point and click adventure, then “Time Hollow” could be the perfect game for you.

In the game, you play as Ethan Kairos who wakes up on the morning of his seventeenth birthday to find a pen that can draw holes that allow him to see and interact with events in the past. The catch being that he can only interact with specific occurrences, and only if he has all the pertinent information, like the exact time and place. Essentially, Ethan must play detective (and God) to find out what has happened to his parents who have disappeared in the parallel time that he wakes up in. As Ethan begins to change things in the past, his actions effect the present, and alter the way the world is – sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

The game starts off with mundane investigation to get you used to using the pen, but it very quickly turns into a murder mystery the likes of nothing the DS has seen before. A true villain rises up, and it’s in Ethan’s hands to put the pieces together to make sure that everything and everyone in the future is taken care of and made right. Murder, revenge, deceit, and love all play vital roles in “Time Hollow,” all of which drive home the idea that the ethical decisions that Ethan is forced to make in the game may be a bit too much for the DS’s younger crowd to really comprehend.

“Time Hollow” is your basic point and click adventure. You navigate around Ethan’s town by choosing the location you’d like to investigate on an overhead map, and then use your stylus to investigate the particulars of that inanimate locale. Much like other point and click games the investigations are almost too simple, and can usually be accomplished by pointing at everything on the screen on your stylus. There’s usually very little that goes on at each location. For example, you may need to talk to someone at the local coffee shop, and then they’ll disappear once they’ve said everything. Then you proceed to the next local, and repeat.

The only time there’s some level of action in the game is when you open a hole to change the past. However, it only really demonstrates your ability to draw a circle, (I drew a square at one point just to change things up). While the cut scenes are well done, full animations, it might have been nice to see a little bit more effort go into creating some rich locations for exploration, where you spent most of your time.

The slow, static gamplay isn’t my only complaint. While there were maybe two times over the course of the game that I got a little stuck, the game basically holds your hand as you progress. “Time Hollow”’s HUD flashes to point you in the right direction if you have any question about what to do next. While this might be a great way to handle a game that is a bit confusing, it felt like it took a lot of the thinking out of the gamplay, and made it a fairly easy experience.

There’s no denying the game has an overarching complex theme of time alteration, but it takes a lot of focus to really follow everything that’s going on in the story. It does get a little confusing as the game progresses, but, like a great movie, by the time the ending rolls around, everything falls into place and makes sense. Overall, it was a rather satisfying experience; unlike anything else I have played on the DS. “Time Hollow”’s closest point and click relative may be “Professor Layton,” but that’s like comparing humans and chimps. There’s a really deep story here, and quite a few hours of gameplay, which make it a completely worthwhile purchase for point and click fans, as well as anyone looking for a unique experience on the DS, just be prepared to do a lot of reading.

“Time Hollow” gets a 21 out of $30.

*2.0’s reviews are based on a sliding scale to help you, the gamer, make better purchasing decisions. The review ratings are based on the cost of the game, so, if an Xbox 360 or PS3 game costs $60, they can get a rating of what the game should cost, somewhere in the range of 0-60. So for this review, “Time Hollow” received a 21 out of $30, meaning the price that seems appropriate is $21, and if it is ever priced $21 it is a definite purchase. In more traditional terms, 21 out of $30 equals a 7.0.

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