Konami’s Time Hollow is a point-and-click adventure that trades the genre’s usual emphasis on puzzles and inventory management for some fourth-dimensional thinking. Hero Ethan Karios inherits a strange item from his father that allows him to essentially poke a hole through time to make small changes to the past. Of course, right before he receives this item his parents go missing and apparently perished over a decade ago. Ethan’s ultimate mission is to save his parents and restore the timeline he remembers, but along the way he’ll have to solve several other issues with his friends and family. One thing is for certain: whoever has made these changes is playing for keeps.
Ethan can only open a hole to certain places and certain times. He will occasionally receive “flashbacks” to scenes that are important. As he investigates them, he uncovers details about them (since many of them never happened as he remembers). Once he has all of the details he can open a hole (by drawing a circle with the stylus) and attempt to correct the past, but how he can accomplish this may not be immediately apparent. Further complicating the issue is the fact that it costs him some of his “own time” (as in “life span”) to open a hole, so he can’t just poke around randomly without serious consequences. Finally, the change you make might affect the time line in unexpected ways…
When looking around in the present, you can pan to the left or right a little (using either the stylus or shoulder buttons). Often important details lie at the periphery of a scene, so it pays to look around. And although the flashbacks are static, photograph-like images, once you create the hole you can still pan around within the hole you’ve opened to find things that can’t be seen in the image. You don’t get too many shots at making holes, and later on you’ll need to open several (and have less time left to do so) in order to succeed. You can occasionally find “chronons” around town to replenish some of your lost time, but you still need to be cautious (and probably judicious with your saves).
While the time-altering mechanics are fairly consistent, the game play is sadly linear. You can’t avoid a poor outcome just because you know it’s going to happen, and you can’t experiment with alternate solutions. For example, in one early mission an acquaintance of Ethan’s is killed in a car accident; Ethan changes things so she isn’t there at the time but a dog is killed in the same accident instead. Even knowing that your first change will have that outcome, you have no choice but to “cause” the dog’s death to happen (don’t worry, Ethan soon corrects that problem too). The events surrounding that mission affect future ones, but you can’t intercept them and shortcut the whole process. The “new game+” is something of an exception, but I don’t want to spoil too much.
Time Hollow is very by-the-numbers, and not really something I would recommend hunting down to own; it was released in small quantities 2008 and copies can be hard to find (although the one I picked up was unopened, so they’re out there). However, it’s definitely worth at least a rent and makes a nice addition to your collection if you’re a fan of the genre. If you liked Trace Memory and/or Hotel Dusk then Time Hollow probably deserves to sit next to them in your collection.
Plays like: Other point-and-click adventures
Pros: Interesting concept
Cons: Static game play; little to no room for innovation