RPGs tend to take themselves too seriously these days. Whether it’s in the art style, setting, story, or characters, this genre of games rarely embraces something approaching child-like wonder. I think back to the 16-bit glory days of JRPGS where everything seemed new and exciting. Earthbound sticks in my head as a standout in the genre with memorable characters and setting and I found the same to be true of Destiny Connect. It features charming characters with cute graphics and a memorable plot, which is desperately needed on the Switch to stand out from the deluge of games coming out on a weekly basis.
The story follows a young girl named Sherry, a resident of the town of Clocknee. One day the entire town gets frozen in time, but Sherry and a very select few other people are seemingly unaffected. After discovering her father’s hidden invention named Isaac, she discovers that she can travel to the past and the future to try and unravel the mysterious condition that has impacted everyone else in the world. From there the plot goes all over the place, intertwining the various party members from each timeline via a pivotal event. While the story is mostly lighthearted there are some serious undertones in the story, such as alternate timelines where things have gone to hell.
There’s a lot of charm in this game, and that goes beyond the visuals. Obviously the cartoony art style is the most appealing factor, but that is supported by a plethora of smaller details. The enemies are all appliances turned evil, meaning you’ll be fighting things such as rogue toasters and tyrannical pinball machines. You can switch between characters to walk as in the overworld, each with their own unique run cycle. You recover health and SP with cute snacks like pie and biscuits, and the character’s weapons range from a Rubber Ducky to a Laser Gun. You can dress up Sherry in a variety of outfits, and your robot partner Isaac can transform himself into other professions, such as a fireman or a cowboy. These extra details help support the game beyond its appealing aesthetics.
As with all RPGs, nailing the combat is essential and I’m happy to report that Destiny Connect does just that. You get your traditional turn-based fighting where the speed stat decides the order of the characters. Of course you can attack, defend, use and item, or run, but you also have the skill command, which allows each character to utilize special abilities in the heat of battle. Each character comes with their own unique skills, so you have a nice variety of options in terms of team formations. Isaac is the exception as he is the only member that can never leave the party. However, he comes with an exclusive ability no other character has: the ability to transform into a variety of different forms, each with their own abilities and fighting styles.
The combat is very easy to pick up and play; however as the game progresses you will be introduced to quite a nice challenge. Enemies are not pushovers; even weak enemies can deal a good chunk of damage to you. While brute forcing your way through the game is a viable option at first, eventually you will have to start tactfully using your skills. This goes for the Isaac transformations as well, since his exclusive form skills have a variety of uses for debuffing enemies or breaking their shields. You can also upgrade him with gears that you obtain from defeating enemies, which increase his stats and unlock new skills.
Although the game looks great and I love the designs of the characters and enemies, the world building leaves much to be desired. Every area feels like a bland and barren wasteland, even the populated cities you visit. There’s really nothing special to each location and all of the sections are structured in a similar way with lots of corridors to run through with nearly no interactions with the environment. The town section only has two buildings you can walk into making the area feel less like a town and more like an empty room. The level design feels so lazy that when you travel 30 years into the past, absolutely nothing changes about the town. Visually it’s the exact same, which hurts the immersion of the story. Clearly a bigger budget and more time could have been utilized for this facet of the game.
There are also some story problems as well. Sometimes what’s happening on-screen feels very detached from the narrative. One example is with the first boss in the game who is sucking up the souls of every human in town. The main characters confront him, but then realize that they aren’t strong enough to fight him. So they just walk away from the boss, with the boss doing absolutely nothing to stop them from leaving to talk about strategies to defeat him. Strange moments like that ruin any illusion of danger or urgency. Likewise the music often doesn’t jive with what’s going on in the game, almost as if the soundtrack was created separately and then shoehorned in.
Even with those negatives, the game does try and make up for it with some great quality of life features. There’s a button that can skip almost every scene in the game, from normal cutscenes to standard dialogue. The load times are almost non-existent, with many of them only taking a few seconds. The game has a fast travel system that can be used at any time, making it easy to reach your objectives without having to backtrack across areas you’ve just been. Destiny Connect definitely has some modern day elements that help keep the game moving along at a nice pace.
Although the game isn’t perfect, I still had a very fun time playing through the adventure. Memorable characters, fun combat, and an entertaining story (albeit with some strange plot points) kept me coming back for more. It’s not the best RPG on the Switch, but it can definitely hold its own against all of the others vying for you attention.
Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Destiny Connect is a charming JRPG that gets a lot of things right. With a fun combat system, smooth graphical performance, and some quality of life options, most fans of the genre should find something to like here. The bland level design, strange plot points, and odd music aren’t enough to ruin what is otherwise a great choice on the Switch.