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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #451: Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Reviewer: Allan Jenks

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.

Publisher: NIS America

Category: RPG

Release Date: 10.22.2019

Price: $39.99 (Digital & Physical)


Buy Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers from Amazon here.

Please Sir, May I Have Another?

There has been no shortage of great RPGs on the Switch lately, and I have been much obliged to take full advantage of the situation. Initially, when I watched the trailer for this game, I was a bit underwhelmed. Sure, it was a good-looking game, graphically speaking—it looked very cutesy, with a Jimmy-Neutron-Meets-Earthbound aesthetic going for it—but I wasn’t really sure what it was all about, as not much in the way of plot or battle mechanics was shown in the trailer. Thankfully, I played it anyway, because neither of the aforementioned features were lacking! Let’s take a look at one of my new favorite RPGs, Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers.

The Day the Town Stood Still

On New Year’s Eve of 1999, our ten-year-old protagonist, Sherry, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her father after many months away for work. While she and her mother wait for Papa’s arrival, they decide to go into town to enjoy the millennial festivities. The evening is going well, until the countdown reaches midnight and the entire town of Clocknee stops, frozen in time. The entire town, that is, except for Sherry, her friend Pegreo, and a handful of other folks who may or may not be vital to the function of the plot.

As the celebratory fireworks hang motionless in the sky, suddenly, a horde of machines appears out of thin air and begins swarming the town and trying to kill you. After barely making it back home alive, you discover a secret room in your father’s study containing Isaac, a time-traveling robot with no memories other than his name and his directive: protect Sherry at all costs. As you head back out into the town to look for answers, you are unknowingly about to embark on a journey through time and memories that will make you question destiny itself.

Save the Automaton, Save the World

As I played more and more, the story really started to grow on me. It was a bit slow to start, but after some initial setup, the game finally gets into full swing and starts to introduce the battle system to you. If you have ever played a turn-based PRG, then you will have a relatively easy time learning this system, but there are some unique elements here as well. For starters, Isaac is the heart of this story, and while his primary directive is to protect Sherry, your primary directive is to keep Isaac alive, because, while Sherry—or any of the other party members—can be knocked out and revived during battle, if Isaac’s HP reaches 0—even if all other party members are still alive—then you get a game over, at which point you can either start the battle over or start from the last save point.

It is also worth mentioning that the battles are not random encounters, but rather, based on coming into contact with the enemy on the map, at which point you enter a separate battle screen. You can avoid some enemies by running around them without being spotted, and, like Earthbound—or more recently, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered—if you can sneak up behind the enemy, you will gain a First Strike advantage when the battle starts. Like Earthbound, however, if the enemy sneaks up behind you, they will gain the same advantage, called a Back Attack, and all enemies will get to attack you first.

What Grinds My Gears?

Isaac also functions slightly differently from any other party members when it comes battle functions. He is unable to use items during battle, so if you need some food or a med kit to recover some HP, you have to keep this in mind when assigning your commands to each character. Isaac does, however, have some healing abilities and some buffs that can be used to bolster your allies’ defense and attack stats.

On top of that, he also has a skill tree system—called Form Upgrade Boards—that uses gear upgrades to increase stats and learn new abilities and forms—more on forms in a bit. These upgrades are made at the workshop locations throughout the game, where you can craft new gears out of the various bronze, silver, and gold parts you collect through battle drops and treasure chests. Once you have collected the necessary parts and money to craft the gears, then you can install the gears into the available open slots in the Form Upgrade Boards.

Your basic bronze, silver, and gold gears can be used to buff stats—attack up, dodge up, critical hit % up, etc.—and while you have to pay for the first gear installation in each slot, it is free to upgrade the gear from a bronze gear to a silver or gold gear later on to increase the stat buff percentage. Some of the slots on Isaac’s skill tree are new skills, rather than stat buffs, and these slots require a skill gear to be installed in order to learn the new ability. These skill gears can also be crafted in the workshop, as long as you have enough spare parts and money.

How the Rest Get By

Each character has a unique set of skills, each of which is assigned to one of three tiers of SP usage. The higher the tier, the more powerful the skill, and the more SP it consumes. SP—or Skill Points—are like MP or mana in most turn-based RPGs, but rather than requiring an ether or SP potion to replenish your bar—though there are some items and skills that can do just that—your SP regenerates more like a power-up bar in a beat ‘em up, replenishing each time you execute a regular attack, receive damage, use an item, or defeat an enemy. Some of a character’s SP is also charged at the beginning of their turn as well.

New skills are unlocked when a character levels up. In Isaac’s case, he not only learns new skills upon leveling up, but also, as previously mentioned, by adding new skill gears when they become available—the skill gear slots in Isaac’s skill tree also only unlock as you level up, they just don’t automatically activate like skills learned solely by leveling. While some skills cannot be leveled up, many of them can be, and you do so by using skill elixirs that are dropped by certain enemies. These will make the individual skills more powerful, but will not increase the amount of SP used by the skill. It is important to think about which skills to level up for each character first in order to maximize your efficiency in battle, so choose wisely.

A Multi-Faceted Hero

Now, all characters other than Isaac have one form, and one set of skills. Isaac, however, has many different forms, ranging from his base model Guardian form to his Rescuer form, Outlaw form, Samurai form, and more. Each of these forms comes with its own set of skills unique to that form. It is essentially like having multiple characters available to swap out as you please mid-battle, which is good, because Isaac is the only party member who must remain in the party at all times and cannot be swapped out. In addition, changing forms does not count as your turn, so each time Isaac’s turn starts—and as many times as you want before executing an action command—you can switch to a different form to access the skills for that form.

The Rescuer form has skills more suited for a healer, such as health casting or defensive shields for your party, while the Outlaw form has more offense-based skills, like multiple-enemy attacks or stealing. Each form has a full range of skills that are all fairly useful—and in some battles, quite necessary to win—in battle. I felt that this aspect of the battle system really kept it interesting throughout the game, as it really encourages exploring the different strategies and tactics available to you through Isaac’s vast array of skills. It also doesn’t hurt that each transformation comes with a cool little animation and action pose from Isaac.

Audio & Video

Speaking of animations, the graphics in Destiny Connect are, as mentioned earlier, very good-looking and cutesy. Nothing too over-the-top on the cutesy side of things, but enough to maintain a unique charm that seeps into the entire experience throughout the game. The camera angles can be a bit on the annoying side at times, and I got a bit disoriented while trying to determine where to run to move to the place on the on-screen map I was trying to navigate, but I eventually either got the hang of it, or I just got used to it, as it stopped bothering me as much the more I played. You can also zoom out further to get a better feel for your surroundings. Overall though, the general look and feel was quite charming, and though the graphics are modern, they also managed to convey a certain aura of retro style, almost like this is what developers of the mid-90s golden era of RPGs would have come up with, had they had access to the Unreal Engine back then.

The soundtrack is good, though none of the songs really stole a place in my soul like some iconic soundtracks—looking at you, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III (VI)! While nothing earth-shattering, that did not stop the battle music from getting stuck in my head all day. The sound effects are spot-on, and always provide a satisfying explosion or clank when needed. I also loved the different robotic noises that the enemies made when you encounter them or when they are defeated in battle.

Wrapping Up

Based on the trailer, I really was not expecting a whole lot from Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers, but thankfully, I played it anyway, because I ended up loving this game! It has a very well-rounded and balanced battle system—though, at times, it does get a bit grindy when you are trying to get across the map in certain parts of town and there are enemies planted every few feet. It also has an excellent story that keeps you hooked, a great battle system that keeps you engaged and strategizing without becoming too insanely difficult, and an aesthetic charm that made me feel nostalgic without taking away from the benefits of the modern technological conveniences available to today’s developers. If you are looking for your next obsession in the RPG realm, then I would definitely suggest that you dive into Destiny Connect. I was not disappointed, and you won’t be either!

Score: 9.5/10

Buy Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers from Amazon here.

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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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