Reviews from

in the past


THE game that made me cry of all time

Wasted 100+ hours of my life and probably going to a little more just to 100% this game eventually. and it was completely worth it just so I can see Siffrin and his friends move on together. Light Spoilers Ahead.

This is one of the best RPGMaker games I have ever played next to the Hello Charlotte series and dare I say the one with the funny dog. This grabbed me the moment I saw a scrimblo lil guy with a wizard hat and sold me the more I kept playing, I have never played a rpgmaker game with such tight writing and characterization before, just seeing Siffrins slowly going desperate and insane in all the big and small ways the game presents to you was a treat to behold and I just wanna hold and protect the little guy. also this is just Higurashi minus the bloodshed I'm just saying, but in a good way.

You eventually just start feeling like him too, going through the motions, seeing the same dialogue, afraid you'll miss something even though you know it's always the same, the actors playing their roles... especially if you're achievement hunting. The game >can< get repetitive, yes, but I believe that's the point, and the game always lets you know what you have to do through your friendly neighborhood Loop.

It's hard of me to choose a favorite, mostly bc they're all great, but it's between Isabelle and Odile, Odile's design and just her personality in general is peak hag and I really really really like her :) while Isa is a lovable himbo and I just, that one scene where he's in bed does something to be man I wanna be bearhugged by him and have a friend like him that's all I love the refrigerator :> I am totally normal about him as much as he's normal about Siffrin. Cute Himbo aside,

If any of you related to Siffrin, even as much as I did, please, talk to someone, talk to people about your problems. I know it's hard, it's scary, and you don't want to get hurt. I understand. Wouldn't it be nice to go back in time? Wouldn't it be nice to freeze everything just so you could breathe? There are many times in my life where, I just wanted everything to stop. But everything has to change, move on, grow, live, keeping that all inside of you, to fester, to brood, to rot, it never ends well, and you might do something you'll regret. Whatever problems you are facing, you are never alone.

I loved this game, and I can't wait to see what the dev does next.

It’s been almost two months since I’ve finished this game, and I’m still thinking about it. I’ve written and rewritten this review several times since then, trying to explain how a game that wears its flaws on its sleeve ended up as my game of the year. Because in all honesty, this should not work as well as it does in practice. This is a game about the most tedious parts of a RPG and uses them to drag you into the shoes of a character going through a depression spiral. It uses its time loop narrative to numb you, the boss battles whose gimmicks you figured out hours ago to bore you, and a slow drip feed of information to keep you going. Maybe this is the run! Maybe this time something different will happen! After all, three acts is a typical story structure—

But as much as this game clicked for me and refuses to leave my brain, I think the main reason that it did work for me was because I came into this already invested in these characters and wanting to know more about their world and their story. This leads to the hottest take I have about this game: the prologue version serves as a better introduction because we’re thrown right into the middle of things and have to piece together the context for ourselves. If I’d been introduced to this story through the slow opening of the final town, I’m not sure if I would’ve been as immediately invested or charmed as I was through the mystery of the prologue version. And thanks to extremely late game reveals (if you know, you know), I think that prologue should’ve made it into the main game. It’s a good litmus test to see if this will work for you, because if it does? The storytelling in this game will hit you like a bus.

That personal investment got me through a chunk in the middle where I just could not parse what the game wanted from me. I spent more than a few hours stuck on a hint, and after not getting it through several runs, I had to look at someone else’s playthrough to continue the story. A section of the finale had some dialogue in a room that I never went to in any of my loops (but I recognized the text from the prologue, so it was fine). Audio cues from battles would load strangely on my Switch (although I’m not sure if this is RPG Maker’s fault or not).

This is all to say that the game isn’t without flaws. But, I think it’s fascinating when game mechanics are used in service of a story instead of the other way around. In Stars and Time is definitely One Of Those, where the mechanics - the time looping, the boss fights, the battle system, the equipment, etc. - are not the point so much as how those things make you, the player, feel as the story unwinds itself in front of you. As a result, how much you, the player again, are willing to put up with these mechanics directly correlates into how much you personally care about the story, its characters, and its world.

Even with the parts that frustrated me, all of it was worth it for that ending, and for the story that has remained in my mind since I finished it. The character writing is amazing, the worldbuilding is incredible, and the mystery at the center of this time loop had me thinking about this game even when I wasn't playing it. I loved this game, and anyone with any level of interest in it should at least give it a try. Play the prologue first if you’re curious about it and then move on to the full game. I hope it grabs you by the heart the way that it did with me.

This was an amazing game overall. I feel as though it was heavily inspired by Omori and Undertale for all the right reasons.

It starts off with such a creative way to jump into a plot and just runs with it, the ideas in it are very unique, and the themes in it are something many adults can relate to feeling at one point or another.

I've never seen a game have such little faith in the player to figure things out until now. If you have fun walking back and forth between rooms for 30 minutes, then walking upwards, play this game.

At least the characters were funny sometimes.


This review contains spoilers

I really wish I left this game more satisfied. I had a fantastic time through the entire game, I think the characters are great, the writing is fun, the game's structure and slowly unfolding web of relationships and setting never stop keeping me glued to my seat, it does a really good job driving in the mental state of Siffrin on multiple levels, and most impressively I never got excessively bored re-clicking the same barrels and npcs for the 50th time. But ultimately, the game decided to end in a way that didn't fulfill everything I was hoping it would do. It's focused on the characters, not the world building and the lore. That's not inherently a bad thing, but I'm just left going "but what about THE THINGSSSSSSSSSSSSSS", hoping it was all gonna tie back together more on some awesome climactic level.

This review contains spoilers

Really solid game, I picked it up on a whim and gotta say it really impressed me. I have a few minor problems, the forced loops in act 2 are kinda annoying, some bits of the game aren't very clear with where you're supposed to go even with Loop which leads to guess work, the enemy encounters can be pretty annoying, you only get a way for immediate looping till like near the end of the game etc.

But these are pretty minor compared to what this game does well. it's world building is really solid, making the mysterious looping all the more interesting as you uncover more and more on what makes it tick. Like any good RPG party the cast is varied and likeable, they've got their own problems and wants, reasons for being who they are and depth outside that surface level, hell even our protag has loads of personality which is great because one of the charms of time loop stories is how they affect the protagonist's mental state.

Siffrin's slow decent into insanity is VERY slow, I've seen people say it comes out of nowhere in act 5 but that's just not true, throughout the game Siffrin's using more and more stage talk, like they're coping with everything that's happening by it "not being real" just a show, because if it is real they have to accept all the awful things they've done, it makes them sink more and more into this rabbit hole of dejecting everything around them.

The game in general is one hell of a slow burn, it's not for everyone. But at the same time I think that slow burn and the game's intentional monotony is what helped me be put into Siffrin's shoes so effectively, I was just as bored and dejected as they were in the middle, skipping through dialogue, ignoring items, only picking up what I needed. I don't think it got TOO boring for me to the point where I wanted to drop it though thanks to the writing and narrative. And I def think the ending was absolutely worth trudging for.

In Stars and Time is a unique story-based RPG-maker RPG that I am glad I was made aware of. This type of game is right up my alley and I very much enjoyed my time with this, learning more about the excellently written and designed characters and the world.

Besides being an RPG, if such a genre for games existed I would categorize this as a mystery, as learning why the main character, Siffrin, is looping in time, by gathering information around the game's small world is required for progression, and at times it can be quite confusing. The game is divided into acts, with major story points separating each. By the end of the game you will have "looped" dozens of times, and while going back through the same areas does get tedious after awhile, this is both (1) intentional as a method of storytelling (understanding what the main character is going through and becoming increasingly frustrated and hopeless as they are) and (2) done in a way that I believe respects your time as much as possible. Through the use of a pretty easily acquirable resource, you can loop not only back but forwards in time as well, taking you to the save point you choose that had the highest level you ever had had when previous saving there.

I was honestly pretty impressed by the combat, it’s a very simple weapon triangle turn-based system that manages to be deep enough to have some respectable difficulty in the first few loops when you are initially beating the game’s main content for the first time. As you grow stronger and you go through the acts, the combat ends up becoming a breeze, and so luckily you don’t have to really beat anything when it’s very difficult more than a couple times.

The main draw of this game is the main cast of characters, who I all learned to love pretty quickly. Siffrin does as well, and you understand each of the party members through his eyes, for better or for worse over time. I really loved the way that the perspective of Siffrin was so essential to the way the story was told, as you are going through the frustration of the loops right along-side him, questioning things and seeing character development of his friends through the same couple days just as he is. This is all implemented quite well and I can say that I really do love each of the characters in the game in different ways.

There are unfortunately a few plot threads that I felt did not get resolved in an entirely satisfying way by the end of the game, and mostly end up serving as mysterious sub-plot, when I was hoping we would get actual answers. It’s also very easy to miss very important information, and as I said previously it is very easy to get completely lost on how to progress at all. I still very much enjoyed my experience with this game and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone that feels this subject matter and style of game checks any boxes for them. I really do hope it gets more attention, as it I think it deserves to sit alongside many of the great indie RPG maker classics of the past decade or two.

8/10

I really liked the demo! I really like the concept! I really like the characters! I’m sure I’ll like it when I get round to it!

groundhog day for gay people
While I think the time loop gimmick & repetition of this game could be offputting for some, I didn't mind it. The cast itself is loveable enough where I didn't mind being stuck in a loop, or doing things over and over again to the point of insanity. I will say there are parts of this game that are hard to get through, just on the fact that they're obnoxious, however it's a very small portion (Act 5) near the end, and the payoff is worth it. The art is gorgeous, the writing is good (I achievement hunted JUST to see the extra scenes, 100% worth), and the battle system is simple but fun. If you like Undertale and games like it, you'll like this.

Weird how it made me feel SO BAD. and SO GOOD. reminds me of nier.

charming, heartwarming, soulcrushing, painful, lovely.

Brillante sotto molteplici punti di vista, seppur io possa ben comprendere come la frustrazione di tutto il gameplay sia funzionale alla frustrazione causata dal trauma del protagonista non posso comunque nascondere la pesantezza per almeno la metà del gioco se non di più delle varie interazioni e in tutti i vari scontri anche perché la ripetizione di ogni cosa è finalizzata a pochi momenti che seppur brillanti sembrano lontanissimi tra loro. Questo gioco forse più di altri esplicitamente appartenenti alla sfera "cozy" ti ricorda che alcuni giochi è bene toccarli per un'oretta e basta invece che arrivare al punto di rottura di coglioni

I love "In Stars and Time" - it appears to be a simple RPG at first glance. The game is all in black and white. There’s nothing flashy about the presentation. The battle system is based on rock, paper, and scissors. But digging into the game, it’s soon apparent that there’s a lot of depth here. The story, the character, and the world-building absolutely won me over. The looping mechanic is interesting and could be a real hindrance to the game if not implemented correctly. But so much love and attention went into this game - everything works perfectly together. "In Stars and Time" is a hidden gem - for those new to RPGs, this is a great game to start with. And seasoned veterans in the genre will appreciate the deep storytelling, looping, and battle mechanics.

esse jogo mudou minha vida e meu ser para todo sempre não consigo elaborar, siffrin babygirl

This game was an absolute joy to play, and I would recommend it to anyone. The story was incredibly compelling and every single character oozed with personality. Watching as the protagonist slowly spiraled into insanity as the loops broke them was heart wrenching; and the conclusion was by far one of my favorite video game endings of all time. I wish there was more to play!

Hard to give a final rating before completing it, BUT i have enjoyed it quite a bit so far! I have felt a bit of a tedious memory challenge in my playthrough, but it's a great one if you enjoy games with that classic time loop meta

Takes a while to get going, maybe even too long.
But once it has gotten going it really just doesn't stop.

It's a bit difficult to talk about without spoiling anything (and I don't wanna write a spoiler tagged review either because I don't feel like I actually have that much to say about it) but this game hit me really hard at an emotional spot that I have been incredibly vulnerable at for the past year or so.
And then the ending was just incredibly carthatic.

Of course, a game hitting me this close to something so personal to me, while making it a game I deeply care about, also makes it a bit more tricky to recommend. What if other people feel differently about this?
But also I feel like even though the game feels incredibly personal to me, it is actually about a fairly universal feeling. Now that I think about it, that might actually be what the game is about.

ive had enough time to think about it now and i think this is actually my favourite game of all time. all of the annoying bits of the game (of which there are quite a few) honestly just never really got me! i was enjoying the game too much!!! i love this game!!!!!!! damn!!!!!!!!!!!

...this was recommended late last year by IGN's Rebekah Valentine on the Axe of the Blood God podcast. Me being the sucker for time loop games that I am, I simply had to take a look at it.

Pros:
+ makes the most of its Game Maker origins
+ monochrome art style is unique and memorable
+ rock-paper-scissors combat system is easy to learn
+ enemy designs are memorable and change over time
+ optional equipment heavily affects the combat tactics
+ time loop mechanic is implemented mostly hassle-free
+ some of the music themes are really good
+ the characters are engaging and grow on you
+ different playstyles lead to differing story paths
+ gameplay and storytelling get closely intertwined towards the end
+ the story does become more intriguing as it goes on...

Cons:
- ...but lacks subtext, and any ambiguity is smothered by the verbose writing style
- even meaningless objects get two screens of meaningless text
- text font and animation shenanigans feel juvenile
- 4:3 aspect ratio feels weird...
- ...and the painted bezels impact the quiter, darker moments
- even at the fastest setting, dialog still requires constant button inputs..
- ...and are frequently interrupted by meaningless dialog options
- culture war aspects are too obvious and blatant for my taste
- combat can only be skipped after it has started
- the reasons for further loops get really flimsy towards the end
- requirements for progress are not always clearly indicated
- even with an optional item, the final fight seriously drags
- playing for longer leads to serious, repeatable visual glitches
- the internal gametime clock continues when the Switch is on standby

Playtime: 18 hours, with a lot of optional content and dialog explored, but still a lot of paths untaken. A complete playthrough requires at least two playthroughs as far as I know.

Magic Moment: Meeting Loop for the first time. Winning the last fight and not knowing where it would lead to.

Blagic Moment: Searching for specific documents in the castle without being given clear instructions where they are. Using an optional item against the final boss and seeing it land like a dud.

Favorite Character: My girl Mirabelle. Please never grow up.

Verdict:
It's clear that In Stars and Time was created with great care and an eye for character and storytelling. However, with the creative team clearly being influenced by games like Earthbound, they somehow refused to implement the anti-frustration features of those games. Avoiding combat is tedious, the later loops send you back to the beginning for miniscule reasons, and having to fight enemies to loop forward in time is a deliberate but time-consuming design decision that really becomes a problem the longer the game goes on. The writing was also really not my style, but your milage may very much vary on that. Still, the technical aspects are troubling, and the gamebreaking glitches during longer play sessions are verboten for a finished product.

I believe this would have worked better as a straight visual novel instead, and if you are a fan of those, In Stars and Time could well be worth your time. Fans of RPGs however will not find much to enjoy here.

But then again...

I don't... know how to write this.

This was such an experience. A powerful, emotional one.

Time loops are a thing that games, understandably, don't tackle often. Doing something over and over again, isn't in most people's wheelhouse for an enjoyable gameplay experience.

But when done right, it's incredible. Proof; this game.

Siffrin's character arc... their slow mental decline... it feels palpable and real. It's a very visceral depiction of derealization and their slow spiral, his occasional outbursts... feel... so engaging.

Games that choose to intentionally pull negative emotions from you are often times my favorite experiences in the medium - there's a quote from the developer that says something similar - games are in a unique place to create a mechanically 'unfun' experience. Often times, this isn't done well or a game is unfun when it's trying not to be.

This game, I believe succeeds a lot (with some exceptions, see below).

Trauma... trauma, trauma. Never seen a game handle it quite like this, yeah?

Okay, lets get real.

Life can be unfair. Sometimes, traumatic experiences can come in waves, they can come so rapidly and so harshly that it feels like the universe itself is targeting you specifically. "Why?!" We've all cried before. "Why me?!?! What did I do?!"

It's hard to reach out for help. Even when people you love - family, friends, are right there, it can be so hard. You convince yourself they hate you. Make up what they're thinking in your head.

"I shouldn't bother them." "They don't care."

Yeah? Follow me so far?

If you resonated, with any of that, play this game. Check the content warnings, first, but play this game.

Because it resonated with me on a level I cannot even describe. I've never seen a game ever be so blindingly human.

This game isn't perfect. Act 2, drags a bit and has some weird design choices, and Act 5 is a bit frustrating to navigate...

But I can't not rate it as high as I can, because of that.

Oh. Gameplay is fun, too.

The game is cute, but has a very unfounded confidence in extremely barebones combat system and makes avoiding it deliberately hard.
The writing is nice, but didn't keep me engaged enough to trudge through the gameplay I kind of hated.
Maybe I'll finish it one day.

Smartly-designed and smartly-written. Timeloop games feel like they've become a bit of a trope recently, but what surprised me here was how much it has to say with it and how well-executed it is.

Getting a 35-hour RPG out of a single dungeon the player has to repeatedly loop through has so much room for things to go wrong, for it to become tedious for all the wrong reasons, and I'm shocked it works this well. The writing is sharp, interesting enough I convinced myself I'd keep reading it every time, then eventually I started zoning out and skipping it exactly the same way the main character diegetically is as he's getting increasingly distant from reality for having seen it so many times. Mechanically it doesn't change too much, but enough things open up to make repeated trips through the one dungeon feel different in a way that still keeps it interesting while still giving you the diegetic tedium of repeating the same steps over and over.

If I have any real complaints, it's just that the ending is a bit too neat and tidy. The buildup to the ending is increasingly harrowing and tense, but the climax feels like it's over in a blink. It just doesn't quite feel like it's spent enough time on its consequences or on the experience of its entire cast.

absolutely gorgeous game, continues the age old tradition of examining the relationship between player and game and relationships and love and loss and furthers the conversation. it's incredible what it does with such few, but artfully crafted resources. one of my all time faves.

Not as in love with some aspects as others but still think the writing is pretty good and ultimately I enjoyed my time with it. Trades off some polish for being interesting which ends up being somewhat worthwhile but results in about 5 hours I wish weren't in the game.

I'm always wary of western indie devs inspired by classic jrpgs--they usually miss what was actually fun about those games and opt for some awful mix of mechanics done better in those old games glossed over with some pretty paint. So, I went into In Stars and Time with a bit of a prejudice.

And...it was pretty good! For one, this game borrows its core from the classic rpgmaker game on dlsite--the rpg mechanics here are threadbare and function more as a narrative tool than "something you play", and the narrative thrust is all about the main character Siffrin delving deeper and deeper into every time loop, trying to find how to beat King.

My other worry coming into the game was that it'd be too...wholesome and twee? I was on tumblr in the 2010s, I've seen this art style acutely, the sort of overly-cute "lets hold hands and talk about our feelings and everything will be okay" sort of thing was completely endemic, and this game sort of has it but its not like, annoying about it?

In fact, its actually quite a delight learning more about how that sort of ethos is presented as worldbuilding. See, basically every single object in the game has copious amounts of flavor text if you interact with them--like, obscene amounts. You very quickly learn the interior lives of every person you meet, every little belief or habit of everyone and the world around you, in near-excrutiating detail. At first, I thought this was just a bit of narrative flourish--but then I beat the final boss the first time, the time loop nature became clearly apparent, and I understood.

See, this game really sells you on the tedium. You will likely go through "the game" 30 to 40 times over the course of the game, and all that flavor text adds up. You will get to the end of one run to see something new, learn oops you fucked up and forgot the random doodad you couldn't know you needed back at the beginning of the game, then loop back go through all that fucking dialogue(which yes has a skip feature for some of it), get the doodad, go back again before finding more shit you didn't know you needed. You start optimizing your runs--dodge the corner here so you can bait the random trash mob into walking in the other direction to skip that encounter, interact with only the few objects you need to continue progressing, skip over that room you don't technically need to, take the left-hand path around an atrium so your barrier maiden doesn't see her friend dead, keep going...it'll still take 20-30 minutes to go from beginning to end, but its faster.

it's all to wonderful effect. You are stuck in this loop too, watching the same shit happen again and again, its incredibly tedious to go through and makes you as a player mimic Siffrin's decent. But, it works, and I love it for it--because the game is well-paced and in spite of the repetition, there is always narrative thrust, always one more thing to investigate, or a new line you somehow missed before that makes it all never feel dull. I genuinely think adding more qol, more ways to skip past the uninteresting parts would hinder this game and it's impact.

Of course, it all wouldn't work if it was in service of an uninteresting narrative--which it definitely doesn't have. The game I think I compare it the most to is perhaps Disco Elysium--there's a similar conceit at play, whereas Revechol is initially presented as a pretty normal pastiche of east europe in that game, and all the weird fucky worldbuilding slowly creeps up and takes over the setting there, its similar for this--the game presents itself as a cutesy maou/yuusha story, and its only through repeated loops and investigation do you see how weird the world actually is. And, in perfect time loop tradition, it brings it all back home in the finale--it won't surprise you if you've read any number of past time loop stories, but the execution is quite good.

Altogether, a good time that I don't regret at all.


isa please kiss me my catboy charm can only last so long isa im dying of gay deficiency isa please the star blorbo is going to post on their twitter account how much of a loser i am isa think of my follower count ISA

The funnest thing this game has ever done is make me cry : '( sniff-

But! This game isn't perfect- and I want to get through the flaws first before I highlight the good.

I'm just going to be honest. I. Hate. How tedious this game is. And- I get it- it was a deliberate choice! One thing this game excels at is really putting you in the mindset of someone trapped in a timeloop. Forced to repeat the same things again. And again. And again. And again. And I can't stand it. Oh, it just makes my blood boil everytime I need to loop back to Dormont or an earlier floor because oh-so-conveniently- the thing I need RIGHT THIS SECOND whilst I'm on floor 3 about to finish the run is juuuust out of reach, sorry! Better loop!

BARK. BARK. GRRR. HISS.

Anyway, like I said- it works thematically. But does it make for an enjoyable gaming experience? Uhhh- no, not really. I stopped being impressed at my ability to relate to Siffrin's pain twenty loops ago. Now... I'm just tired.

...And the developers know its tedious! Why do you think they have a skip option for most dialogue and cutscenes? They KNOW if they made it EVEN MORE TEDIOUS THAN IT ALREADY IS no one would like playing this game. There has to be a balance. You can tell your themes- you can make us relate to Siffrin- without making us dread even continuing. I like the skip function- I wish you could do it more and I wish that- oh stars- you can't accidentally skip dialogue you've never seen before. AAA!! THATS WHAT IM HERE FOR! THE NEW STUFF! DONT PENALIZE ME FOR A MECHANIC YOU ENCOURAGE THE PLAYER TO USE AAAAA HOW DO DATING SIMS KNOW HOW TO MAKE A BETTER SKIP FUNCTION THAN THIS GAME NOOOOO

Alright, so I've had my mental breakdown. Is there anything else bad about the game?

YES ACTUALLY BECAUSE WAIT TILL I TELL YOU ABOUT THE SECRET TRUE ENDING AND HOW YOU CAN ENTIRELY MISS IT IF YOU DONT DO THIS ONE THING THAT THE GAME BARELY WARNS YOU TO DO UH OH YOU DIDNT DO IT? OOPS! NOW YOU DONT KNOW THIS VERY VALUABLE THING ABOUT THIS VERY IMPORTANT CHARACTER YOU LIKE SO MUCH EVEN THOUGH YOU TRIED SO HARD WITH THEMBAND THOUGHT YOU DID EVERYTHING ELSE RIGHT BY THEM ooh im so mad. im so mad. catboy hours are over it is time to KILL

Okay, okay. It's not all bad. In fact- that last part only got to me so much because of how much I just love these characters. I love this story. So much! It's so good! These characters are SO good! It's SUCH a great game and it's frustrating that I have to give a game that I think deserves a perfect 5/5 score a 4/5 score instead because of its frustrating game design. I want to replay this game. I want to discover every little thing I might've missed- to learn more to experience more- I don't want the loop to end- I love it here!

...But I'm not going to replay the game. It's just. Too. Frustrating. And it's been so long. And I think... once is enough for me.

I guess I really do know how Siffrin feels. Despite the frustration- I'm glad I got to experience this with him. It touches so deep for me- as someone who is also going through the motions- just like he is.

If you ever feel like you're stuck in a timeloop in your life- and if you're afraid of change- this game does a really good job of making you feel seen.

I had so much fun, despite everything. I don't want it to end. But all things do. Maybe- that's a good thing.

In Stars and Time is a rare experience where the credits roll and you sit in your chair staring at the ceiling for 10 minutes. I'm torn because there are a lot of things that would typically turn me off from a game here, and it's in no way a completely 'fun' game. Viewing this purely as a video game, sure, it's not that great. There's a LOT of backtracking and inconveniences to the gameplay that I'd rather have not been there. But as an entire experience? This is something really fucking special. If not for the fact that Act 3 is REALLY repetitive without adding as much narrative weight as the others, this would be a 10/10 experience, but sacrificing some fun for the overall experience does make a 10+ hour game lag a little in some areas.

I really recommend that people give this one a shot, because this kind of game only comes around every so often

This review contains spoilers

homo groundhog day gave me a headache

For a full hour after I finished this game, I looked through my game collection and my backloggery (my entries on this website are incomplete as of the time of writing). I have never played a game that I've felt this divided on. Throughout playing the game, I entered different ratings on here to gauge how I felt, and they went from 5 stars to half a star. In Stars and Time has some truly dreadful ideas that would tank any other game, ideas so bad that you question how the hell nobody during the lengthy development of this game didn't point out how bad they were. The first line of this review isn't a joke, I have a pounding headache after finishing this game.

With all of that typed out, you gotta understand how good the writing and characters are in this game. I adore the entire main cast unconditionally. In terms of my favorite party members in a RPG, they're all probably in the top ten. The game starts at the end of a long journey, there's character interactions and development that we clearly missed, and yet the characters were written well enough that I had a deep connection to everyone and would look forward to seeing new bits of dialogue around the main dungeon. I'm not generous towards this game at all, and I tried to look for specific lines or scenes that might not have sat well, and I couldn't find anything.

The presentation of the game is, again, way too good for how bad of an idea this game ended up being. Despite being in (mostly) black and white, I never had any visual confusion towards what I was looking at. The key pieces of art during specific cut-scenes were a highlight, and somehow augmented the already stellar dialogue. The music and its permutations, even if those permutations were bad, was fitting for each of the scenes. A ton of talent went into the AV sections of the game, time well spent.

It's a shame the game itself is such an awful waste of this talent. Waste might be going too far, because what we got was still fine, but the entire time I was playing this game, I just wished I was playing the previous 45 hours of this JRPG that we're never going to get. The time looping elements of the gameplay compare poorly to other games with time travel elements. The main dungeon gets monotonous by the second time you've played through all of the floors. The final boss fight is really fun and engaging the first time you go through it, and feels like a chore the 12th time. The game has limited ways of alleviating looping frustrations for the player, like being able to warp to higher up floors or having reminders of where items are, but they come off more as band-aid solutions for an underlying system that isn't fun to play through. Why do I have to grind random fights just to warp to higher up floors? There are times in the game where the only new piece of dialogue requires that you know exactly where to go in the dungeon, and that requires either playing through 20 min of content you've seen a hundred times already, or paying this limited currency to skip that monotony for two minutes of dialogue, after which you'll speedrun killing yourself.

That frustration's supposed to be the point, right? The player is supposed to feel the frustration that Siffrin has to deal with, going through the same events over and over. Mission accomplished, when I had to go through the semi-randomized version of the dungeon at the end of the game, I was not having a good time at all. There's reviews on this website that mention how much they like elements of the game, but dropped the game because it was too repetitive. If you set out to make a bad game, and succeed, you still made a bad game.

If the game itself was just kinda butt, and the rest of the narrative was a 10/10 I'd give this game a perfect score and move on with life. There are specific narrative directions that drove me up a wall. The king being irredeemably bad was such a missed opportunity. There's an attempt midway through the game to talk to and empathize with the main antagonist, and initially I thought this was going to go in the direction of "even if you try to choose peace, the main character is still trapped in this time loop for reasons that'll be explained later". A real gut punch that fits with the tone of the game. Instead, he'll backstab the party and crush a child in his bare hands, something that doesn't fit the vibe of the game and makes the character less interesting. I didn't give a single shit about the king after that scene, he was just a monster that had to be dealt with.

The endgame also left a sour taste in my mouth, to the point I almost dropped the game. There isn't a gradual degradation of Siffrin's mental state, after hitting a specific dead end they just snap and attempt to destroy all of the relationships the game had lovingly built up to that point. I think that the way he went about this was out of character and poorly done, flat out. I hated having to sit through each of the scenes. The final permutation of the dungeon and the character's inner battle didn't work for me at all, and again, even if that's the point, it's a stupid point. Act 5 is the nadir of the game. It feels like this otherwise touching, wonderful game got its shirt stuck on the "what if we made an earthbound like game but secretly it was really fucked up" current that needs to die and never come back. We've had enough of that trope for a lifetime. I thought whatever comment the game was trying to make on mental illness was flaccid and incoherent. This game was a 1/10 for me at this point.

My frustrations with this game have been made very clear, but how I feel about the main cast may not have been. They are all still some of my favorite characters I've seen in a video game in years. How they react to Siffrin at the end, and their not-parting dialogue made it worth it. In Stars and Time, despite being critically flawed, makes you feel every emotional beat that it wants you to. This game will play you like a damn fiddle, in ways that nothing else that came out this year can. Despite the game's many issues, In Stars and Time stuck the landing. It won.

im a sucker for time loop plots and stuff so this one had potential but the characters and dialogue ultimately broke this one for me. i was too scared to interact with anything in this world cause it always resulted in a 20 hour conversation full of quirky remarks and ❀✦ wholesome ✦❀ moments. also what type of preteen has gages? whats up with that?

mirabelle was precious tho she was the reason why i kept playing