Remember that one RPG that centered around a group of kids and a robot that told an epic tale that weaves through time and space after a celebration in 1999 goes awry? Now, there is no need to become “triggered,” because I’m talking about Destiny Connect. NIS software’s newest JRPG certainly seems to have many things in common with Chrono Trigger, but can it hold a candle in terms of quality to the legend? I’m happy to report that it gives a solid effort. Destiny Connect’s visual aesthetics might leave you asking “who is this RPG for?” Dive deeper into it’s gameplay however, and you’ll discover that it’s a game for everyone.
Destiny Connect clearly has a goal to be as accessible as possible for newcomers to RPGs and younger players. Having said that, there is enough to depth to keep seasoned players such as myself entertained. Combat is turn based and features the typical options to attack, use items, and execute skills. There isn’t much more here to discuss until we really analyze Isaac the Robot’s capabilities. Isaac’s customization becomes a default “job” system to tinker with. He is capable of transforming into many unique forms that grant him unique skills and attributes. I won’t dive into the many names, but in RPG terms, Isaac can become a tank, healer, guardian, a ranged specialist and myriad of other RPG roles. Most of the forms that he is capable of taking look cool and some are downright hilarious.
NIS made a point to take as much care as they could into providing the player with comfortable controls. Commands are limited to button presses but the camera settings are conveniently customizable. It can be rotated with the right analog stick, but Destiny Connect goes a step farther and offers the player 3 fixed angles. One is a close up third person perspective, while another shifts the camera a bit farther out, most similar to modern generation RPGs. The third takes the camera even farther out and slightly overhead, which provides the widest view of the surroundings. For the most part I used the medium depth option, but still found the farther-out perspective to be useful when I wasn’t quite sure of the path I needed to take. I would also switch into this perspective occasionally to catch a glance at a glimmering item waiting to be discovered.
Aesthetics and Sound
Destiny Connect isn’t going to wow you with its visuals, which are very similar to those found in the original Kingdom Hearts way back on the PS2. Disappointing for a 3D game released in 2019, but this shouldn’t hinder one from considering the game. On the bright side, I thought the lighting details were well done. The reflection and sheen of the polish reflecting off of Isaac the robot never ceased to catch my eye. Most of the game takes place during a twilight style setting, so the team made sure the brighter shades really pop, and I like that touch of detail. Unfortunately, the structures and foliage are rather generic and static. Additionally, the crispness of the display has a noticeable drop in handheld mode- borders and the lining of structures tend to become more fuzzy, so I chose to play in docked mode as often as possible.
The structures and overall environment of Destiny Connect May be somewhat dull, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the character designs. Sherry is a bubbly 10 year old with a sharp fashion sense. Her weapon of choice turns out to be a modified hair drier. How cool is that?! Isaac the robot doesn’t exactly break the robot mold in his base form, but his transformations are something to behold (and chuckle at). Isaac is similar in design to Robo from Chrono Trigger and Gill from Dragonball GT, but his extensions and gadget capabilities are completely his own. The duo are joined by Pegreo- a very young boy with a nerdy aesthetic and a skittish personality, as well as a mysterious lightsaber-wielding boy who seems to have some knowledge of what may be happening with time in the town of Clocknee.
Each character design bears some semblance to characters in Jimmy Nuetron as well as the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts series. Though the graphics may appear outdated, I loved these designs.
In the sound department, Destiny Connect: The Tick Tock Travelers manages to go above and beyond in some areas while curiously falling short in some others. Let’s start with the bad, shall we? Destiny Connect is purely text based. There are no character voiceovers at any point throughout the game, including cutscenes. This was a major gaffe on behalf of NIS, in my opinion. The development team seemed to have worked very hard to create unique, eye catching characters, only to limit their ability to display emotions through text and redundant facial expressions and body gestures. The game’s story doesn’t exactly leave the player in suspense, but it does have some twists that could’ve definitely been taken to the next level with voice acting.
Want the good news? To put it simply: Destiny Connect has the best soundtrack of the year so far as it pertains to Switch RPGs. You’ll find an eclectic blend of anthemic pop-rock songs and ambient synthesis. Each song seems to fit right where it is supposed to within the game, and they never got old for me. The “Time Capsule” special physical edition release of the game actually comes with the soundtrack included, and could be well worth a look for anyone interested in playing the game.
It’s the end of the year and protagonist Sherry is expecting her father to be home any minute. He is unfortunately a no-show, so Sherry and her mother make their way to the town of Clocknee’s annual New Year’s Celebration. At the stroke of midnight… time stands still. Everyone and everything is affected, with the only exceptions being Sherry and her aforementioned confidants. Some of the town’s technology has strangely come to life and hostile, to boot. The responsibility falls upon Sherry to sort out the strange phenomena- and time itself- and restore reality to the way it was before the stroke of midnight.
While searching for answers, Sherry stumbles upon Isaac the robot. He is also strangely immune to the time stop, and informs Sherry that he was manufactured by none other than her father for the sole purpose of serving and protecting her. The duo are later joined by Pegreo and the aforementioned enigmatic young boy on their quest for answers. It’s not the most unique storyline at this point in time for RPGs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not engaging all the while. There were a few instances that were predictable, but I was easily able to forgive that due to the more surprising and heartfelt moments within the game. Discovering the true identity of some of the characters that the party meets during the journey made for some very satisfying moments. Even when I already felt that I had an idea of the likely outcome, the game presents it in such a way that still makes these scenarios feel rewarding.
During my playthrough of Destiny Connect- and even as I write this review- I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that there are many gamers who will pass up this gem because of its accessibility and efforts to cater to a younger audience with the aesthetics. I had a great time with the game. A few missteps keep it from reaching our hallowed “Great” status, though. Voice acting could’ve truly taken this game to new heights, and gamers who choose to pay the rather high price ($34.99 USD for a 15-20 hour game) deserve it, in my opinion. Nitpicking aside, the heartwarming tale of hope, unique character designs, traditional-yet-engaging battle system, and PERFECT soundtrack make this one a very fun experience. This is a game I could see myself coming back to when I’m craving a leisure RPG to unwind with. Destiny Connect: The Tick Tock Travelers is an entry level RPG at heart but it also provides plenty of depth for veterans of the genre.