Time Hollow Review for Nintendo DS

Keeping Time in Check

Do you like The Butterfly Effect? Check. Manga books? Check. Homer’s time-traveling toaster episode? Check. Hiro Nakamura? Check. If you were taking a test and those were your answers, I’d say you’re in for a nice ride. Making use of the exciting and intriguing time-travel wild card, Time Hollow will absorb players into a quite engaging story. Perhaps we’ve heard or seen this kind of story before, but it’s just nice to come across it one more time.

Time Hollow screenshot

Time Hollow tells you the story of a young boy named Ethan Kairos. Just before his 17th birthday, he finds himself into something really out of the ordinary. He wakes up drenched in sweat and, before the nightmare is over, he realizes a hole has opened right in front of his eyes. Somehow his bedroom has turned into a time portal, and he doesn’t even know it yet! It will take less than a chapter to figure out what’s going on, but the problem is…How are we going to fix it? How can we bring things back to normal? And that’s where you come into play. You’ll have to learn about the powers of the magical Hollow Pen and make the right decisions in order to fix things. I assure you it won’t be an easy task, though it’ll be rewarding at the very least.

Time and again, players will find themselves thinking, drawing time holes, and going back and forth between parallel worlds. One will have to understand the reasoning behind cause and effect, and even still, things won’t always go as planned. The story is actually very engaging and full of interesting plot twists. That’s probably the main reason why players will remain glued to their DS for hours. I have to admit I would have been just as happy watching a two hour anime movie with the same topic, but I guess in this case I was meant to make the extra effort and get through the story using my own head.

As you know, most point-and-click adventures require a lot of thinking but not much gaming skill, and this is not different. You’ll advance through the story by just tapping on the characters to make them talk, tapping on the map to reach the desired location, and again, tapping on certain objects in order to interact with them. The basic controls are only enhanced by the use of the Hollow Pen. On some occasions, players will be prompted to use that magical tool by drawing a circle in a particular area of the screen. This allows you to interact with the past.

Time Hollow screenshot

But, how do you find out where to go next and where exactly you should draw the circles? This is how: Ethan constantly sees flashbacks that clue him into what his life and his surroundings are like within that specific world he’s living. As he adjusts the past, the present and the future constantly change, giving place to new situations and new flashbacks. If you determine something from the past must be changed in order to obtain a better outcome, it’s in your hands to visit that area and “fix” what was wrong before it’s too late. Of course, you’re not guaranteed immediate success, which is why you’ll be sucked into the game for about eight to ten hours before you can actually see the ends meet.

As far as visuals go, this tiny DS game delivers a nice, almost cinematic experience. The game is loaded with lots of appealing cutscenes that will manage to drive your interest even further. Also, the character design is just charming. If you’re into manga / anime, you’ll love all the different characters and their unique personalities, which shine right through their simple, hand-drawn designs. Even though you won’t see full-on animations, everything has been carefully put together in a way that’s almost as attractive as watching an animated feature.

Time Hollow screenshot

Same thing can be said about the soundtrack. The music is also very appealing, and it definitely contributes to the overall suspenseful feel of the game. I found it to be very pleasing, as opposed to other games that just make you move the volume switch all the way down. It’s true the game could have used a few more sound effects and some voice acting to bring the story to the next level, but overall, there’s not much of a reason to complain about this. After all, it’s just a DS game; we’re used to “basic.”

Time Hollow screenshot

Of course, you know what basic means; it means there’s not a whole lot to it, which is the case with this game once you finish the six-chapter story mode. There are no other modes to extend the replayability, which is what makes the $30 price tag a little steep. However, there’s one thing that could bring a few more hours of gameplay to the table. Depending on a couple of specific choices that you make throughout the game, you’ll be able to reach an alternate ending. If you follow the most reasonable path, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to, but if you decide to go for the twist, the story will become a little shorter and will take you elsewhere. If you’d like more information about this, you’ll have to read a walkthrough!

In conclusion, Time Hollow offers an enticing story, cool cinematics, and a nice soundtrack. It’s possible some players will be bored after a while, especially with things constantly changing back and forth. Others might be left wanting for more, especially because there’s only one game mode available. However, this is a quality title that some of you should explore. It’s worth at least a rental if you’re into games like Phoenix Wright. A purchase only makes sense if you’re a game collector like me or if you plan to pass this game along after you’re done playing.

Anime cutscenes are very appealing. Charming character design lets you see their personalities. 3.5 Control
Basic point-and-click action. Nothing remarkable here, but at least it works. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Engaging, high-quality music produces the right effect on players. Additional sound effects would have been nice to hear. 3.5

Play Value
This is the kind of story game you only need to play once. However, it’s engaging while it lasts.

3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Deep storyline with clever puzzles that will challenge and intrigue gamers as they search for answers in the mystery that unravels around them.
  • New storytelling and puzzle-solving mechanic of the Hollow Pen will have players exploring both the present and the past simultaneously.
  • Cinematics are created by the famous anime studio AIC, producers of such shows as Blood+ and Gun X Sword.
  • A variety of interesting characters that come to life via the writing of popular Japanese writers Junko Kawano and Takehiko Hata.

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