Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers is a turn-based JRPG about time travel and protecting the ones you love. When a young girl named Sherry and her friend Pegreo witness the folks of Clocknee being replaced with hostile machines on the turn of the millennium, they, and their time-travelling robot Isaac, must travel through time to change the course of destiny.
JRPGs are a dime a dozen and if you’re interested enough in the genre to be looking at Destiny Connect, then chances are you know how to play them. The opening few chapters firmly holds your hand with many lines of tutorial dialogue that explain basics that are arguably self-explanatory. This can turn off players with continuing with the story as the initial slow-pace makes you want to bang your head against a wall. However once you’re passed all that, Destiny Connect really picks up in both gameplay and plot development.
As you run around, battles are initiated by walking into enemies; if you’re sneaky enough, you can walk up behind them to get a free round of attacks at the start of battle but if your opponents get the jump on you, then they too can receive that bonus. On a negative point, traversing the world feels awkward as the character that you choose to control feels too zippy for their own good. This can make initiating battles frustrating as you want to walk into them before they notice you in order to gain an initial advantage.
In terms of the turn-based combat, it seems slightly behind the times with a more traditionally slow-paced setup (however, you can hold down either of the triggers to speed up animations, so that’s nice). Where the combat shines however is in its skills and type advantages. Skills work similar to how you’d expect them to in a turn-based RPG, but some of them have typings that can be both effective or not so to certain enemies (much like you’d expect to see in a core Pokémon entry). There are three stage tiers of skills for each character to learn that indicates how effective they are in combat. Each party member has 300% worth of Skill Points (SP) with Tier 1 skills costing 100%, Tier 2 200% and Tier 3 300% respectively. You regain your SP by performing standard attacks or defending. You will learn more skills as you level up which can also be upgraded in the skills menu with the use of Skill Elixirs that you either find or are rewarded in battles with. This skill system does a great job at keeping what could have been a monotonous turn-based combat system engaging.
Something else that I was surprised to learn about is that it is game over if Isaac, the robot companion (who in my opinion resembles the android phone mascot), falls in battle. Without spoiling too much, this makes perfect sense in the context of the plot and whilst the machine certainly has more defence than the other characters, it raises the stakes in exciting ways.
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I always find myself disappointed when a Switch game has no HD Rumble, and Destiny Connect contains absolutely no traces of it. A little bit of forced feedback on powerful attacks would have been nice and yet, the Joy-Cons remain perfectly still without a hint of movement throughout the entire game.
If I was forced to compare Destiny Connect’s world design with another RPG, it would have to be Earthbound. Whilst playing through the game and proceeding from one area to the next, the industrial/modern setting gave me ideas of what a modern 3D Earthbound/Mother game would look like. And much like Shigesato Itoi’s original concept for Mother 3, Destiny Connect takes place entirely within a single town… just not at the same time.
With the inclusion of markers on the map in a world that doesn’t offer much in terms of interactivity, you will most often find yourself wandering from one point to the next simply in order to advance the plot. An RPG without any hint of side/optional questing sticks out like a sore thumb, making the adventure a particularly linear one. On the odd occasion, I even found myself finishing up a cutscene, walking for 30 seconds with no hint of interactivity (battles, NPCs, etc.) just to reach the next marker which triggered another cutscene.
In the opening few chapters, I found the game’s plot to be generic and lacking in heart. However the more I played, the more wrong I was. A lot of love has gone into its story to the point that I found myself getting choked up during certain points. The idea of time travel is a concept that has certainly been played out many times before in both film and video games, but Destiny Connect does so from a much more personal approach and despite being on a mission to save all of Clocknee, personal character development and relationships are built in a way that may just bring a tear to your eye.
Graphics / Art Direction
On first glance, Destiny Connect reminded me of a modern Saturday morning cartoon with oddly rounded models and stiff character animations. However, they soon begin to grow on you with details that you may not notice at first glance. I particularly appreciate Isaac the robot’s design as there is an impressive amount of detail that has gone into his seemingly simplistic approach. For one, you can notice a lot of attention-to-detail with his construction, including bolts, hinges, shading and more. Isaac also seems to have a nice reflective sheen to him that makes me question just how often the party must polish him in their downtime. During combat, the team also went the extra mile to reflect the surroundings off of his polished exterior – nice touch! Lastly as the game progresses, you will unlock transformations for Isaac, giving you new abilities but also, creative designs that often made me chuckle.
Music / Sound Design
The game’s soundtrack is something that I found absolutely no fault in. It’s always whimsical and catchy, with appropriate settings to accompany it. The battle music is boisterous with heavy guitars over an energetic drum beat and boss battle music raises that intensity just right. I often found myself humming these tracks to myself hours after I had put the game down.
Final Score: 82%
Destiny Connect was a surprise as I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. The gameplay becomes increasingly complex without overcomplicating the system and the plot takes exciting twists that I personally didn’t see coming.It’s definitely a slow-burner to start out with and you may be tempted to put it down after the first hour, but I highly recommend sticking it out to the end.
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