Not all marriages are hell, obviously, but Time and Eternity’s is. This clumsy attempt at RPG matchmaking throws together a super-casual dating simulation with a sluggish battle system, framing the whole thing with a story that never stops wobbling between the serious and lecherous. True weddings are predicated on commitment, and Time and Eternity seems unable to stop cheating on itself, taking every shortcut in the book—from repetitive enemy models that have had their colors changed to recycling the same four dungeon types (island, wood, garden, and canyon)—to keep up the appearances of a quality game. (Hand-drawn, full-character models can’t come cheap.) Unfortunately, it’s a sham: Even the late-game introduction of time-warping skills that allow you to freeze foes, rewind combat, or accelerate your character can’t patch up the gaping flaws in what appears to be a shotgun wedding between a halfhearted publisher and a contractually obligated developer.
The premise, which the game never rises above, is that right before Zack kisses his bride, Toki, villains appear to ruin the celebration; in four separate and more or less self-contained chapters, then, Toki travels backward in time to prevent this matrimonial carnage. On a point-and-click world or town map, you’ll pick up tasks from the local residents, slowly piecing together—and hopefully preventing—your future disaster. After a healthy dose of fetch quests, 1v1 grinds against the local monsters (who sometimes ridiculously spike in difficulty), relationship-boosting conversations with your wife-to-be, and tone-deaf jokes (is anybody afraid of the Better Business Bureau?) you’ll face off with a boss and then repeat the whole cycle once more.
Supposedly spicing up the mix is the revelation that nice-girl Toki is actually soul-sharing her body with another girl, the violent Towa. In actuality, they play almost identically: Toki has slightly better long-range stats, while Towa is supposedly better off in melee, but considering that most fights are won by casting the massively overpowered elemental magic, all you’ll really be doing is memorizing and then dodging/countering enemy attack patterns long enough to channel a spell. Things get even cheesier if you game the skill tree, for while each tier has to be tediously unlocked with the GP earned from the various quests, some abilities are far more potent than others, to the point at which major mini-bosses can be killed with a single spell. It’s a shame, too, as a more balanced game might actually encourage the strategic use of the game’s clever status ailments—like knockdown, which wipes out the enemy’s current stockpile of action points, or knockback, which pushes enemies out of melee range.
Time and Eternity goes out of its way to look like an anime (though recent Tales games and the marvelous Ni No Kuni have done this far better), but the result feels more like a series of filler episodes than an actual game. The whole affair—especially the emphatically pervy sequences in which you collect “sexy” illustrations of your future wives—feels sordid and unimaginative. It’s cheaper than a Vegas wedding, and bound to end in an annulment.