This review is a bit different from my usual reviews, for this review I will be looking at the game in general, but will be more about using Time Travelers as a study tool for Japanese rather then a study of the game mechanics as a whole. I’d recommend at intermediate understanding of japanese to takle this game, cause of the complex forms it uses. Luckily the vocab can be looked up with any dictionary quite easily for it uses Furagana throughout.
First, let me talk a bit about the game. Time Travelers was developed by Level 5 the company behind Nino Kuni one of the most adorable RPGs to date. Now this game is in no way an RPG, is simple a novel game with a few QTE sections thrown in the mix to spice it up. The gamer has control over 5 different characters, or more like 5 different story timelines, and as each one plays out over the course of 5 hours. For the world will end at 20:00 pm. Of the five characters there’s the police officer that has had his family kidnapped by the masked men, and is being forced to help them in their crimes, the news reported that seeks the truth, the high school student that really just trying to deal with his crush on the main girl Mikoto, my favorite character the real life hero that is a cos-player that is convinced he’s a real hero all the while trying to keep his girlfriend impressed, and finally the Doctor (はかせ) the father of the Mikoto and also the scientist involved in inventing time travel for the mafia…
Now what makes the story interesting is how each characters choices influence each other. A simple example of this is the doctor is riding his bike with his daughter on the back running from the Mafia men he just ripped off. As he’s peddling he damnedest to get away, his daughter Mikoto gets a phone call and cause she’s a high schooler she answers causing the bike to crash. Now that phone call without giving any spoilers comes from the high school boy’s timeline. If he can prevent that phone call from happening it will stop the Doctor from crashing the bike. Now cause each character has the ability to repeat time correcting the timeline, the high schooler goes back stopping the phone call and helping the doctor escape his pursuers.
Now this seems like a Taletell game, and in someways it is. Parts play out and your given a short period of time to respond setting your characters on their path. But the big difference is in Taletell games, your choice is alway right, even if you end up killing everyone off by mistake. In Time Travelers there is only one correct answer to each part, once in a while there’s two but the end result is always the same if done correctly. If I was reviewing the game with the assumption I understood it fluently I’d have a hard time recommending at full price for the game has one path that is correct. But as a study guide for people learning Japanese its great.
First off your forced to make a choice with in 10 to 5 seconds from a list of usually 3 choices. Working as a test to make sure you understand whats happening in the story up to that point, as well as testing your reading in a flash. Now if your like me and you read at snails pace, no problem cause you can still fail, bring up all the dialog including the choices read them, translate them if needed and retry as many times as you need.
Failing also doesn’t mean it simply ends right there it often goes in interesting directions or leads to subtle hints at the bad guys identity. In one case, the Police officer sees a girl drop a bag in the middle of the street, the first choice is investigate the bag, while the second is to tell the girl she dropped her bag. If you choose the second choice you are arrest as a pervert and come to the TIME STOP the games form of a dead end, while the other choice leads to him discovering a bomb and needing to disarm it. And not all choices lead to failure, some simply lead to a side tangent to return on the set path. One of my favorite parts is when the Real Life Hero is sitting next to Mikoto as he waits for a job interview. As he sits there he’s given three options to try and talk to her. The first, has him come of as a player hitting on her, the second is him confessing his real identity as a Hero and them running of together to fight crime, and the final one is to simply ignore her. With all choices they game goes off telling how these different choice would play out, some with some hilarious turn of events. But again it always comes back to the same main result.
And Yes that is a DeLorean.
As for the dialog pacing, theres two parts to it, the first is the characters inner thoughts, these are done in the common novel style of just a shit ton of text that you click on when your ready for the next line of text, and the second part is done in movies fully acted out, with some wonderful animation and voice acting. As a learning tool, all parts are fully subtitled in Japanese, but more importantly they all use furagana. Making those damned Kanji easy to read, and to be learned in the process.
QTE part also called “Playing Cinema Event”
Now to further the practice of Japanese as a written language, and one thing about this game that really makes it stand out as a learning tool is that each character uses different forms while they think to themselves and talk. The new reporter speaks and strangely think to herself in the ますform. The high school boy uses short form with おれ, the real life hero uses a slightly more formal form using ぼく, and the Doctor uses おれmixed with a ton of short form 東京弁. In most novel games the games told from one or maybe two character perspectives limiting the forms to usually one form with the simple differences being a gentler female form using あたし、and the male form using ぼくor おれ. This game on the other hand jumps constantly from short form, long for, and everything in between giving the learner great practice in their forms.
My one warning is the main story has to do with terrorist and time travel, so be prepared to translate a ton of word you probably haven’t learned in your Japanese classes. But that said, most of the dialogs aren’t about science or police terms they are about the human drama that each character is going through.
Finally, I’ll simply say, if you willing to trophy hunt this game, it has by far the best trophy list I’ve ever seen. Not as in difficulty or fun things to do, it’s actually really basic, but visually it’s awesome. Though I will say, the main game as a learning tool is totally worth the price of admission, the dating sim after the main game to fluff up the time it takes to beat is horrible. It’s a real time dating sim, and assuming you play it legitly you’d have to play it for over half a year for it actually requires real time for it to function. and if you mess up when your changing the clock as i did it will erase all your data forcing you to restart.
From the Dating Sim part with Mikoto.
In Conclusion, this game has been one of the best study guides for Japanese I’ve experience with the range of forms it uses, the actual animation during cut scenes to help visual illustrate the meaning behind things, and it’s trail and error format. Now if I read Japanese fluently I’d have an harder time completely recommending this game, but as study tool it has been one of my best investments. But plan to translate a lot for it goes into science speak during the Doctors explanation of Time Travel. But usually the game has more to do with character drama and story rather then science speak. And finally by the end I think I cried like a baby a good few times as the story unfolded. I played my first playthrough on the Vita, and the second on my Vita TV and loved the experience on there. It really made the cut scenes feel more like movies then a game.