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E3 impressions - Time Hollow

by rawmeatcowboy
16 July 2008
GN 1.0 / 2.0

Time Hollow doesn’t exactly make for the best E3 demo. This is a title that you need to sit down with in a quiet room, and have a good chunk of time to dedicate to it. Regardless, the game was on the show floor…one single demo unit to its name. Of course, everyone was avoiding the game like the plague, which I hope was due to the elements I mentioned above, and not some other pre-conceived notion the gaming press has for the title.

Time Hollow is basically a point-and-click adventure. You follow along on the adventures of a young man that has a pen that allows him to peer into the past. By drawing a circle around certain objects, he can see what those things were like years ago. This also enables him to visit people and places that he never could have before, and have conversations that never actually happened. It’s a very intriguing idea, and one that really turned me onto the game back when it was first announced for Japan.

The problem is, the demo at the show floor is very restrictive, and doesn’t let you sink your teeth into the title. I played the game for over 20 minutes, and all I did was talk, talk, talk. People were talking about things that I had no reference of, flashbacks were happening that made no sense to me, and the dialog seemed to go on forever. I am not ragging on the game, I’m just saying that the E3 experience is not kind to titles like these. I love these kind of adventure titles…I just wish I could have done more clicking around instead of tapping to advance conversations.

While not talking to some of the other characters, you have the ability to search the locations you decide to visit. You can scroll through the location on-screen by dragging the stylus around, and then you can tap anything that interests you. If there’s something to learn about the object you touched, you’ll get a dialog box. Nothing new for point-and-click games, but still, very endearing. I particularly liked the idea of dragging the screen around to search the hand-drawn set pieces. It gives the impression of actually looking around, just from one perspective only.

I want to try Time Hollow in a better setting. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen until the game is released. The story definitely seemed like it could be engaging, and the nature of the pen will lead to some interesting gameplay elements, I’m sure. Fans of Phoenix Wright and Touch Detective might want to keep their eye on this.