in the Time HollowTime travel is a painful, tangled, and sloppy mess that makes history worse with each intervention. A spiritual sequel to another game I liked to name Shadow of memories It actually took me a while to track down this obscure visual novel from Nintendo DS, published by Konami in 2008. When I found out that it was headed by Junko Kawano, one of the developers who helped create the project Suikoden Series I made it a priority to play it.
The game revolves around Ethan Kairos, who looks like a normal student. Then he wakes up one morning to find out that his parents died twelve years ago, although he had only seen them the night before. Someone associates their own version of the story and Ethan is the only one who seems to be aware of how much things have changed. That’s because he has a special item, the hollow pencil, a family heirloom with the ability to change history. This pen is more powerful than time itself as long as it knows where to draw the circles that make it leap into the past.
Ethan travels through several alternate worlds, making small changes from saving a dog’s life to preventing a friend from being arrested after attacking someone. Sometimes the circumstances that change someone’s life are so tiny and trivial that I thought about how different our lives would be if, for example, we hadn’t met that one person or missed a chance encounter that had deeper implications. Time Hollow does a good job showing how volatile and unpredictable the circumstances are; In one story, Ethan’s uncle Derek is a distant and cold figure of authority. A few strokes of the pen makes Derek a warm-hearted guardian who is also a successful coffee shop owner and tries his best to stand up for the parents Ethan lost.
Time Hollow is most successful when focused on the whims and melodrama of the time. It also doesn’t inundate players with text and skips much of the everyday school routine (it’s not person, immerse yourself in classes and participate in everyday activities). The story focuses mainly on Ethan’s role as editor of the manuscript of his friend’s life. The flashbacks, frozen photos showing key points, become a personal index of the revelations Ethan must uncover with every jump. When the story changes gears and focuses on unraveling the machinations that killed his parents, it gets a little more complicated and confusing. Ethan has a rival hollow pen user, Irving, who upsets things, fueled by a misguided sense of revenge over his mother’s death. The actual resolution is not as satisfactory as the complexity of the gradients that make up a person’s tapestry. The narrative vies between two seemingly contradicting concepts; The idea that a single moment can change someone’s life and the more fatalistic topic that some people’s fate can never be changed no matter how hard you try.
Despite the serpentine threads of history, this visual novel is linear in its vectorized approach. The path winds everywhere, but there isn’t much freedom when it comes to choosing the chronological diction. It’s also a very short outing with the mysterious girl Kori Twelves who is kind of at the heart of the confused puzzle. If every life were a maze, she would be there to make sure things get even more cryptic, playing both the victim and the savior, whose roles change while somehow remaining untouched. If it sounds contradicting itself, it’s because time travel stories are usually like that. The paradox is to change the past and still be aware of the change when it has theoretically no longer occurred. It is difficult to juggle the different timelines while trying to maintain a coherent arc. Time Hollow Probably those familiar with the time travel genre won’t be satisfied, but it’s entertaining enough to dispel disputes over plot inconsistencies (the game actually reminded me of the plot of one Star Trek: Voyager
The game resonated with me on a personal level. I’m a bit vague here on privacy concerns, but something traumatic happened to someone I love earlier this year. It was shocking to see how this person changed after the event. The direct cause of this was something that seemed so minor that I wished I could have used something like the pen to quickly fix the cause. The way that time and its events can deepen emotionally and mentally was breathtaking. I keep thinking about how different things would be if there was a way to prevent the incident from ever happening.
Time Hollow is wish fulfillment. In the end, everything is somehow resolved or improved for the better. Real life is not that gossipy. Historical revisionists aside, most of us get stuck with our decisions and the regrets that result from them. Even if we tell ourselves that we are not going to deal with previous choices, it is hard not to. I wish there was a hollow pen to remove the suffering. But I can’t do anything to drive my personal pain out with the ink of everyday life and hope in hopes that the next page will be a little better.