If you were one of the people who were worried about the whole Y2K phenomenon back in 1999, you'll connect with Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers as it tells what could have happened through the eyes of a child.
The town of Clocknee is celebrating the turning of the millennium when suddenly, machines attack thus causing everyone to stop in place. Time has come to a standstill and it's up to young Sherry, her friend Pegreo, and the mysterious machine in Sherry's basement to save the town from its fate. Although the humans seem to be paused indefinitely, the machines have come to life and are bent on destroying Clocknee. Thankfully, Sherry quickly makes a friend in a robot that she uncovers in her home with a ringing phone in its belly that connects her to her estranged father.
Sherry is a young lady with quite an attitude and seems to see through all of the excuses that grown-ups make. Her mum comes across as very apathetic to the fact that her dad is never around but it obviously bothers Sherry more. When Sherry and Pegreo team up with the super-cute robot, Sherry starts to learn why her dad finds it hard to spend time with her.
With help from her time-travelling robot friend Isaac and the kooky Doctor Cheatstein, Sherry and Pegreo travel back to when her dad was a boy and discover what lead to the catastrophe that has befallen Clocknee. Throughout the story, they travel between 1970 and 1999 while attempting to change fate yet soon realise how difficult it can be without causing side effects.
The robot Isaac is a charming character that takes on 6 different forms in battle including guardian, rescue, outlaw, champion, samurai, and a final secret form that can only be uncovered by collecting certain items. In the story sequences and at the beginning of every battle, Isaac takes on his standard form of guardian where he can do a good amount of damage and also act as a tank.
The other forms are unlocked as you progress the story and each one contains a bunch of unique skills and traits that are available if you switch to a given form mid-battle. It's unfortunate that when you select a form for Isaac, it doesn't persist between battles because it's annoying having to watch the animation of him changing form each time you want to review the strengths, weaknesses, and unique skills. Nevertheless, watching Isaac battle while dressed in his cowboy outfit is nothing short of adorable.
Destiny Connect's battles are ultimately quite simple. There's a wealth of abilities available across the multiple party members that come and go but overall, it involves standard weak and strong physical attacks, healing spells, buffs, and elemental attacks. Although there's a good variety in the attacks when it comes to Isaac, there really isn't much need to use them on the average enemy because the difficulty mostly comes in making sure you're healing almost every turn and ensuring that you're taking advantage of the 3 elemental weaknesses. Having said that, I appreciated Pegreo's unique ability to set traps that trigger when an enemy uses a skill. It's quite a thrill to set one and have it trigger right before an enemy is about to deal a mortal blow. Skills require SP which must be managed to ensure that you have enough to heal and use elemental attacks which was the largest hurdle for me.
The world of Destiny Connect will feel nostalgic for anyone who played JRPGs back in the PS2 era. Also, if you've ever watched the movie G-Force, you might notice a similarity in the idea of animated machines that come to life and have silly names (which is akin to monsters in Dragon Quest) such as a toaster called a Testoasterone or a blender with blades on its tail called a Blendemic. The whole world feels as if it's the made-up tale of a child who's reminiscing about their adventures or writing their first story including encounters with a superhero, eating cakes to replenish health, and breaking into a mall at night to investigate a rumour. The musical score is very well done with orchestral tracks throughout that help set the tone beautifully and the battle music got stuck in my head for days.
Unfortunately, the length of the campaign is short and the world of Clocknee is quite small. You mostly just travel through high streets, suburbs, and parks in the quaint English town with the odd adventure away from the machine-conquered Tudor-era streets. Plus, you can teleport on the map on most occasions and follow a yellow arrow to your next destination. Most of the fighting doesn't take place in dungeons but on the streets of the town. However, when you are in the odd dungeon, you'll find them to be mostly uninspired and filled with a lot of repeated backdrops and tucked-away treasure chests. Don't get me wrong; there is some great creativity that has gone into building the world of Clocknee and there are some interesting landmarks but there's just not enough to keep me interested as you keep returning to the same places over and over again merely to battle more machines and further the storyline.
Another gripe that I have about travelling is that the map shows in the top-right of the screen and it can either be in a smaller or larger view but there's no option to make it translucent so when you want to see further, you have to block half of the screen which often causes you to bump into an enemy. It's a simple concept given the hundreds of RPGs that came before and handled this well.
Destiny Connect is a charming JRPG that's full of creativity. However, it's too small and doesn't do much to break from the most basic formulas. If a short but interesting storyline is enough to keep you interested then you may get some enjoyment out of this but those looking for distinct and engaging gameplay should definitely look elsewhere.
- + Lively characters that flesh out a unique time-hopping storyline
- + Intuitive and simple combat
- + Cute and creative visuals
- - Short story set in a small world
- - Gameplay doesn't go off the beaten path
- - Skills feel superfluous