Time and Eternity has all the hallmarks of a playable anime. All the character graphics are hand-drawn, the storyline follows a maudlin tale with a quirky twist, and the combat is largely reactionary. Unfortunately, none of these components have been handled particularly well, and the final product is unenjoyable as a result.
Time and Eternity belongs in that small club of "solve your own murder" games. You play as Princess Toki and the murder victim is Zack, her fiancée, killed, of all days, on their wedding day. Since Toki is playable and Zack is relegated as a mere support character (in the body of a poorly animated pet dragon, no less), their dual narrative often feels imbalanced and clumsy. It doesn’t help that Zack’s lechery and Toki’s inexplicable attraction to him makes them equally unlikable.
Toki is also Towa, the less ladylike blonde palette swap of the red-haired heroine. This unconventional multiple personality character design isn’t unusual by JRPG standards and witnessing this woman switch between Toki and Towa is amusing at first. Then you remember that you’re still stuck with only one playable character at any given time. Even more annoying are the hoops you have to go through to toggle between personalities, as they only switch each time you level up.
Even if you enjoy grinding levels, Time and Eternity doesn't make the combat environments very welcoming. Palette swapping works for Toki and Towa, but not so much with the world you explore and the creatures you encounter. When many environments and monsters are short on variety, boredom sets in early. The missions, such as item fetching and hunting down key enemies, are very common in many other JRPGs, but in the context of this game's unimaginative landscapes and repetitive battles, they do nothing to improve the experience. It's a mixed blessing that beating all the mainline missions takes no more than 15 hours.
If you’re the kind of JRPG combatant who would rather wait for the enemy to act first, you’ll find the battles in Time and Eternity to be the game’s one redeeming feature. On the other hand, these encounters can be frustrating experiences for proactive players who like to take the initiative. The game presents mild depth through its skill tree but this does not present opportunities to change this reactionary playstyle.
Since Time and Eternity’s hand-drawn art is animated in real-time, most any screenshot gives this game a novel appeal at first glance, with the promise of actually playing an anime-turned-game. Seeing it in motion is a different matter. Like many anime series with a very limited budget, the best examples of animation are devoted to the action scenes while corners are cut during conversations. When you combine these visual inconsistencies with the game-wide palette swapping, the graphical monotony can be a lot to bear.
Time and Eternity's disappointing animation is matched by its equally poor script. Coming home after a series of missions is an unpleasant undertaking since Toki’s obnoxious and one-dimensional gal pals are waiting to chat. Since the tone of every character reeks of self-involvement, it’s hard to care about their trivialities--desires for a man who can bake or whether it's OK to receive a kiss without consent.
Compared to Imageepoch's decent track record of niche RPGs, Time and Eternity is a resounding disappointment. And that's compounded by the game’s promising 2D visual concept falling short. As there is nothing especially remarkable with the game's world exploration, battles, or anything else for that matter, the only audience that would appreciate Time and Eternity is the one that buys anything publisher NIS America releases. Even then, this one's a hard sale.