Switch Lights

The lights are on

31/31 Day VIII: New 7 Days

Time. Time is something that's universally known about, and is a very important thing to some people.The usage of time in entertainment as a plot device is one of my favorite fantasy/sci-fi elements. Several of my favorite games-Xenoblade Chronicles, Chrono Trigger, Radiant Historia, TWEwY, and others all have time used in some way. Today, I thought I'd explore several ways time is used throughout video games, and my own personal thoughts on them.

Time is used in several ways-whether is be a passive story telling device, a clock ticking down to a game over screen, or even a vision of the future. Some of these usages are awesomely executed, and sometimes, they can be a little frustrating.

The Past(Back-and-Forth Travel)

Some of the most acclaimed games in the industry focus on a player moving back and forth between time, like Ocarina of Time, Chrono Trigger, and The Wind Waker. Usually with this sort of implementation, a game has two periods, and the player must complete actions in both to allow the story to move forward. However, some other games have more than one, the most famous being the aforementioned Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger has several distinctly different time periods, with all of them featuring decidedly different villains with different motivations. Also, the SNES classic contained several missions that required the visiting of multiple time periods, with some being completely optional. 

While several video games have greatly used this implementation of time to great acclaim, it isn't always perfect. Sometimes the multiple timelines can confuse a player, and turn them away. Also, this is one of the aspects that has become move overused, being prolific in the industry, and sometimes used shallowly, or just in a minimal way that doesn't really work as well(one notable example being the ending of Skyward Sword, I think).

The Present(Gameplay Usage, Time-Attacks, and Days)

Some games also use time as a gameplay device-whether it be a power that allows the player to slow down time within a game(bullet time anyone?), or an old fashioned countdown clock like in Metroid. I myself have never really loved the latter-you're forced to run through environments instead of savoring them; though, the adrenaline rush can be great in these moments too. As for things like bullet time, or Dishonored's bend time-I really love these kinds of moments, even if time is also slowed down for the player, not just enemies. It allows you to plan out your attacks more, and ten relish them when they're executed flawlessly.

However, I actually like the other sort of countdown clock better in games-the way in which it's more a story device, but not where you jump in-between, but where you have a certain amount of time before something happens, but not like Metroid. What I'm talking about is more of what's seen in The World Ends with You-the fact that the game is driven by you only having seven days to complete each objective is really engaging to me, even if there's no real countdown clock. I don't know why, I've just always been partial to this soft of thing.

There's also one very famous usage of time in a way that's sort of both of these-Majora's Mask. While you do have the ability to reset time, and thus have an actual infinite amount to complete the game, your actions are bound by when you do them-if you reset the 3 day cycle, you'll need to do complete a quest again.

The Future(Premonitions)

The third and final part of time is the future, of what is to come. This is the part of time that is almost always reserved exclusively to be used with a game's story. An untold amount of games have some sort of prophecy, or premonition, that foreshadows the end of the world, with the player tasked to stop it, from Mass Effect to Xenoblade(I know that Chrono Trigger also dealt with the "future" technically, but I'm reserving that to the past, which had actual time travel-this is just based off "seeing" the future in games). But, Xenoblade also used premonitions as a gameplay device, where you would see enemy attacks before they happened, and could adjust your strategy towards them. While I did like this idea, it was frustrating sometimes, since I was powerless to stop them, or because one would happen mere seconds after another had just finished. Regardless, it was nice to see this part of time being used in a unique way, and I look forward to see if Monolith implements it another way in their Wii U title.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of any of these, or do you prefer time to stay out of your games?