I was rather enthusiastic in my preview of Toki Towa (aka Time and Eternity in the West). I was a bit optimistic, because the magic didn’t last.
/!\ Caution! The video contains spoilers /!\
Some aspects hold true : ImageEpoch wanted to bring a bit of fresh air to the JRPG scene by making Toki Towa in full anime style, and they did it right imho. The characters’ animations may be somewhat repetitive, the art style is charming and looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s clear that Toki and Towa are the main attraction of this, so it’s more than ever a matter of opinion. The humor is particular also, very ludicrous similarly to what you can see in actual anime (the clear source of inspiration again), while heavily leaning towards ecchi (including the illustrations that come together). But in the result, it’s super effective and I had awesome laughs quite a couple of times. Be careful though because I don’t know how well it can be transcribed in English!
The first thing that falls into pieces pretty quickly is the gameplay. For starters, enemies of the same type do always the same actions in the same order. Consequently, you always attack them the same way, that is to say in the few openings they leave. Let’s be absolutely clear about this, battles in Toki Towa are not repetitive, they’re IDENTICAL. Skills are extremely unbalanced, since magic can OHKO most enemies and even 2HKO bosses up until the first half of the game. Physical attacks as well counter are then left unused because underpowered and imprecise. Time Magic is not really better : the only useful one is the one that freezes your opponent. The others I still don’t know what they are here for, except for the time-acceleration magic which is clearly here to kill you since you take damage anyway! If you add a not so engaging quest system and a insane surge in difficulty in the 3rd chapter, you realize that you need a great deal of patience to finish Toki Towa.
On the graphics side and independently from design which I’ve already talked about Toki Towa is again fairly modest and it’s clear that the company has privileged an economical development. Dongeons aren’t that varied and backgrounds are as empty as Moon landscape, whilst suffering from framerate drops and clipping on the top of things! NPCs aren’t fully animated or even displayed on the field… In short, Toki Towa is kind of halfway between JRPG and visual novel.
It is therefore hard to recommend Toki Towa to regular JRPGs players. It is mostly destined to Japanese anime/games fans you are deep into ecchi design/visual novels. So if you’ve fallen in love with the art direction, Toki or Towa, you might try this out, but the risk of disillusionment remains high.