Time Hollow review

  • Excellent story
  • Well-animated cutscenes
  • Your enigmatic and adorable cat
  • No real puzzles
  • No choices to make
  • Tap, tap, tapping mindlessly

If you think of Time Hollow as a graphic novel on the DS, it succeeds brilliantly with a top-notch story and memorable characters. As a game though, which is what it’s supposed to be, it fails miserably. You “play” as Ethan Kairos, a boy who wakes up on his 17th birthday to find himself in an alternate reality where his parents disappeared many years previously. Tied to his cat Sox’s collar is a mysterious Hollow Pen that allows Ethan to draw holes in time and alter past events. With the Hollow Pen, he sets about tinkering with the past to restore his life to the happy existence he enjoyed for the first 17 years of his life.

The plot thickens immediately, as Ethan soon discovers he’s not the only one who wields the power of a Hollow Pen, and it seems he has an enemy who’s trying to screw up his past in every way possible. Adding to the mystery is a young girl named Kori who apparently hasn’t aged in over decade; she knows about the pen and Ethan’s flashbacks but appears completely helpless in the crossfire of competing timelines. With her help, Ethan must work to undo the destruction caused by his psychotic nemesis faster than said nemesis can create more trouble. 

You can’t just whip out the pen willy-nilly though – first Ethan must have a flashback of a previous event before he can return to that spot and open a hole in time. Even then, you can’t just start poking holes any old place you’ve had a flashback, because the game will only prompt you at specific times, telling you explicitly when you’re supposed to use it and what you’re supposed to do. Using the Hollow Pen is the closest Time Hollow ever comes to actual gameplay, so it’s unfortunate that you don’t really use it much, and when you do it’s always really obvious what you’re supposed to do, so there’s not much of a puzzle element at all. 

The problem with the game is that it really isn’t a game at all. We’re not just saying it’s too linear – what little (very little) gameplay you’ll find smattered throughout is completely spoon-fed to you. So if you’re expecting any kind of logic puzzles or clue collecting, forget it. Time Hollow makes Phoenix Wright look like a marvel of interactive technology. Still, if you’re looking for a pleasantly passive DS experience with a great story that’s more akin to reading a graphic novel, Time Hollow is quite enjoyable.

Oct 14, 2008

More Info

Release date: Sep 23 2008 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Mild Violence, Mild Blood


  • RonnyLive19881 - October 16, 2008 5:51 a.m.

    If you want the game get it! Its great! I thing all the websites are not being fair in reviewing this game at all. I want a sequel pronto, need more Sox comedy, he is EvErYwHeRe!
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - October 17, 2008 5:39 p.m.

    Yeah, Sox the cat was probably my favorite part of the game - I was really hoping that it would turn out that Sox was the mastermind behind everything that was going on. I actually enjoyed Time Hollow, and I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving it a try. It was just really disappointing that there weren't any puzzles or any "gameplay" really at all. It was basically like reading a book on your DS. But at least it was a good book! And yes, I can't WAIT for the Miles Edgeworth game. I am going to prosecute the crap out of those criminals.
  • Samael - October 16, 2008 1:15 a.m.

    Damn, this game looked interesting. Was kinda hoping for another Phoenix Wright. Oh well, I'll just have to wait until Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor is released stateside.
  • iluvmyDS - October 16, 2008 3:05 a.m.

    That's a shame. I wanted this game to be good.
  • RonnyLive19881 - October 16, 2008 5:51 a.m.

  • RonnyLive19881 - October 20, 2008 1:56 a.m.

    Lol me to. If the developers did the game more like a mix of Professor Layton and Hotel Dusk it would have been loads better. Sox being the master mind would have been fantastic too, but he might HAVE been. Did you catch at the end when Ethan sends him through the portal he says, yes he speaks, something to him lol. I dident notice it till some one made a topic on it at gamefaqs.
  • RonnyLive19881 - October 20, 2008 2:05 a.m.

    Oh and good guess on Bio-shock 2's story. Would be a great breeding ground for plot twists and even cliffhangers because Bio-shock 3 is announced.

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