ashogo's Time Hollow (Nintendo DS) review

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I am a big fan of point and click style adventure games, so I don't usually complain about "lack of gameplay" in the usual sense for these types of games. Time Hollow, however, literally has no gameplay.

You click around on a map to visit locations, but you never have to explore because the game almost always tells you exactly where to go. Dialogue consists of clicking on various question bubbles until the exchange has ended, but there is no real interactivity here; just move down the list.

The main hook of the game is supposed to be the hollow pen, a tool that lets you "dig" through certain points of time to alter the past. You will be presented with a scene and it's up to you to find the right place to dig a hole. Mess up too many times and it's game over. Unfortunately, none of these digging sessions encourage you to solve anything on your own-the answers are so obvious that the whole thing is over in a minute or two.

Now all of this excessive hand-holding and linearity might be forgiven if there were a good plot underneath it all-after all, adventure games like these are played for their storyline more than anything else. Time Hollow doesn't deliver here either. While the initial mystery got me interested, (what happened to Ethan's parents and who is behind it all?) by then end I found that I really didn't care what happened. The characters have little to no backstory, so you don't really care when they are put in danger. The plot feels somewhat bland and unoriginal, but the weak characters are really what pulls it down the most.

So far this has been pretty negative, but there are good points to Time Hollow: The interface is slick and fun to use. The artwork and music do a great job of setting the mood, and the plot does have it's moments (it's not terrible, just not original). What it comes down to is this: Time Hollow is a decent adventure game that is bogged down by uninteresting characters and complete lack of challenge. Also keeping in mind that it's quite short, I'd say this one is a rental.

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