Good question especially since Level-5 talked more about the cast of characters in Time Travelers than the gameplay. Time Travelers takes place in Tokyo on April 28, 2031 – eighteen years after Tokyo is destroyed by an explosion from the Lost Hole. A Space Elevator towers over the city and provides power to the metropolis.
The demo at Level-5 World took place at 15:00 with Yuri and Mikoto, two high school students standing on a rooftop with the Space Elevator in the background, sharing what could be a romantic moment. Mikoto was unusually direct and requested a kiss from Yuri. Aloof to the situation, he asked why. Mikoto said she likes him, she leans in for a kiss, and then the game paused with two options – kiss or don’t. I had seconds to pick an option and selected kiss. Mikoto moved forward and Yuri, a bit shocked by the whole situation, reluctantly lets Mikoto kiss him. Mikoto smiles and walks away saying she’ll see Yuri later.
What happens if you don’t accept the kiss? I was curious and played Time Travelers twice to find out. Refuse the kiss and Yuri turns away. Mikoto is disappointed, but she doesn’t give up hope. My initial feeling after the scene was Time Travelers shares quite a bit with Jiro Ishii’s top rated visual novel 428, which is also a story driven game with an ensemble cast. The difference is, Time Travelers has 3D models on the top screen and white text over a black screen was on the bottom while 428 uses actors. Most of the scenes in the demo had voice acting too.
After Mikoto walked away the scene switched to Ressenti Man, a college dropout who masquerades as a costumed hero. These events also took place at 15:00, which means players will see parallel events in Time Travelers. While Ressenti Man believes he’s a hero, he’s hardly in shape for the job. He tries to stop two thugs, but gets beat up in the process. Two troublemakers continue to kick him when he’s down on the ground curled up like a baby until a homeless man drives them away. We get a glimpse of Ressenti Man’s phone (it looks like an iPhone), which has a photo of him and his girlfriend on a date. Both look happy, but it sounds like that’s going to change. Ressenti Man gets a text from her saying she needs to talk to him about something. That’s never a good sign.
The third scene switched to the Hina Fushimi and jumped to 15:50. Hina is in the editing room in the TV Five news station when suddenly a man named Big barges in demanding a videotape. Enraged, he attacks the crew and Hina has seconds to escape by pressing the L button (shown as a giant icon on the top screen). Then Big goes in for a punch and another quick time event popped up. I could have pressed Y, but I wanted to see what happened if I missed the QTE. After three or so seconds the game stopped and the words Time Stop popped up. The game then rewound the scene as if I was watching the events through a grainy VCR.
Hina time traveled to the beginning, before Big entered the room. I raced through the text and noticed the quick time events, at least in the demo, had the same sequence of buttons. This time I avoided getting clonked on the head and in the final QTE motion Hina pulled a taser from her purse and shocked Big. The demo ended here so I didn’t get to see the two other characters in Time Travelers.
Level-5 is making Time Travelers for PSP and PlayStation Vita, but only the Nintendo 3DS version was on display. The game had stereoscopic 3D graphics for event scenes with a few pop out effects. 3D effects were used to add depth to the scene like making the skyline seem further away while Yuri and Mikoto were standing on the room.
Back to our original question: what kind of game is Time Travelers? It’s a story centered game with choices and quick time events. Time Travelers is slated for release in 2012 and right now the title has only been announced for Japan.