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Time Hollow Package Art

Time Hollow

Who knew that saving a dog's life ten years in the past could prevent someone from going to jail in the present?

Well, shortly, everyone will, as that's one of the dozens of changes to history that can be made in Konami's Time Hollow. While the DS game does tend to stick to the tried and true elements of adventure games, it does offer some new concepts in subject material, most notably the idea of folding history multiple times over to achieve a desired result.


Everything in Time Hollow's world is two-dimensional and sprite-based to the core. This isn't unusual for a game in this genre, but what is different is that most, if not all, environments can be scrolled to some extent. This is accomplished by sliding the DS stylus across the screen. Environments also scroll in parallax, lending a stronger feeling of realism to the areas. Items are often hidden in corners, so this is an important aspect of gameplay, as well. The game also features fully animated cut scenes sprinkled in among its chapters to add emphasis to part of the story.


The music of Time Hollow clearly lets the player know what's going on at any given point in the game. When things turn bad -- as they often do, and quickly -- the soundtrack is full of dark, ominous tones, countered by far happier tracks when things are fixed or changed for the better. The cut scenes are also fully voiced, as are parts of the game. Hero Ethan Kairos gives the player aural cues when digging through time holes, illustrating by his spoken words whether the player is on the right track. This is one of the more ingenious elements of the game, although it takes a while to catch on without knowing about it in advance.


To say that the bulk of Time Hollow plays like the investigation in games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney or Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is an oversimplification, but it's not entirely inaccurate. Some aspects of adventure games are universal, of course, but others are unique to Time Hollow. What really sets the game apart is the story. After having a pre-birthday dinner with his mother and father, Ethan Kairos wakes up on his seventeenth birthday to discover both of his parents have been missing for twelve years and that his uncle has been raising him since kindergarten.

The rest of the game's plot follows Ethan as he tries to solve the big mystery, the disappearance of his parents, and the several little mysteries and issues that follow. After discovering he is the heir to the Hollow Pen, a glowing device that can open rifts in time, Ethan's job becomes much easier. In order to change history, though, Ethan needs to know exactly when and where events have happened in the past. These events appear in the form of flashbacks, and once Ethan has filled out all the blanks in his mind, he can often use the Hollow Pen to change history by drawing a hole in the time stream. After the timeline has been altered, Ethan will see a new series of flashbacks, indicating the changes that have occurred.

Ethan can only affect time in a limited way, by adding or removing objects from a scene in the past, by leaving notes, or by attempting to change the position of people within a frozen moment in time. Despite being about time travel, the game itself proceeds in a fairly linear fashion. Being able to influence time in more ways would have been interesting, although there are far less of the confusing "what should I do?" moments than in some adventure games. There are a few surprising moments, such as finding out who is actually the root cause of most of the problems plaguing Ethan.




While Time Hollow doesn't necessarily bring a ton of new ideas to the adventure genre, it does provide a satisfying, if somewhat short, experience for fans of investigative gameplay and time travel story lines. With Junko Kawano, scenario writer for the Suikoden series and Shadow of Destiny, at the helm, an interesting story was a given, so fans of her work will also likely want to check in. If nothing else, Time Hollow answers the age-old question of what would happen if a kitty-cat jumped through a hole in the time stream upon multiple occasions.

final score 7.8/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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