Review by Darkatheu
Time Travelers - a good introduction to visual novels
Was not successful in Japan and will likely not see a localization. I only started playing this title because it was made free on PS Plus. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I have bought it? No.
This game plays a bit like an interactive movie. Basically you watch some scenes (fully voiced and acted) and you read the character's thoughts. You can also play through some active time events where you have to press a button to do an action (avoiding shots, for instance), but they are all extremely easy and a bit pointless. You'll often need to make choices which will either advance the story or make you see a Time Stop. If you reach a time stop you'll have to rewind time and change your choice. The game has 5 characters for you to play as and sometimes you'll need to make the correct choice in character A to advance the story in character B. You can only freely choose who you want to play late in the game, at the beginning it's a very guided experience.
This game is very similar to a visual novel, but since everything is fully acted by the 3D models, it's more dynamic. You'll spend most of your time reading, though. The text is well written and it's very easy for Japanese learners to understand well since every kanji has it's furigana reading. As long as you can read kana and have some decent vocabulary you should do fine. I have around a year of study and hardly missed a point in the story. The voices also help, although the character thoughts are not voiced.
All 5 characters have decent personalities and interesting story lines, the game gets a bit slow in the beginning but it soon speeds up nicely. The game blends well humor with a serious story, never being too annoying in humor. The story line, besides featuring time travel, is not horribly convoluted and can be further clarified by reading some fan discussions to clarify some facts. In spite of having choices, the game is extremely linear, you cannot reach the ending without going through an exact path. Deviations only lead to their own bad endings. I did not mind this, but I can see why this could be a complaint.
The game took me around 18 hours to see all endings (the game has 2 main endings but you can get 69 Time Stops, which act like bad endings, most of which are optional). This is considered short by visual novel's standards, but since everything is acted I believe it would be costly to further extend this.
The game also features a mini-game that you can play after ending the story but it plays in real time and it's not very interesting. It stopped me from getting all the trophies.
The story did not truly amaze me at any point but I was never bored either. It could be a wonderful introduction to visual novels and it's a very good source of Japanese practice.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Time Travelers (JP, 07/12/12)
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