Time Limits in Video Games

I have a confession to make……… I have never like the “time limit” system in video games.

To name some examples, Pandora’s Tower, Lightning Returns and the Atelier series, are some games that impose time limits of some form to the game mechanics. Of course, the time limit isn’t particularly tough from the ones I experienced, and once I’ve done most of the things I needed, I still have some free time to burn. I still don’t particularly care for the system though.

People may say “The game gives you more than enough time to complete everything! You will have more time then you ever need!” I just dislike the fact that I have to be constantly aware of the time limit, and while I mostly like playing games in my own pace, having time limit just takes away that freedom.

Don’t let this cute game fool you!

It’s one reason why I have never really sunk too deep into the Atelier series, which is extremely time-based. Nothing’s more frustrating than missing an ingredient or two to craft something, and having to waste a couple of days (even weeks, depending on the distance) just to collect them in the fields. Worse, I remember there are some specific ingredients or events you can only get on certain days. The game’s cute and pleasant, but time management’s stressful. When I’m playing Atelier games, it’s like I’m halfway getting healed, only to take my cure away by stressing me to hell with all the time limits. Man, what a fucking tease. Atelier games to me, are vicious sadists. Don’t let the cute atmosphere fool you!

Even at the time of this post, I’m only just barely done with the Arland trilogy (which is ancient by now). I heard the new ones no longer have time limits, though I still have the Dusk trilogy to slog through. At this pace I’m going, it will be 10 years before I’m even close to catching up with the series.

Strangely enough, I’m mostly fine with games like Persona. I think it’s the way they implement their time system that doesn’t feel as forceful. For these games, you can feel the time system is there to make you feel the flow of time, not to force you to complete your tasks faster. Thus the inclusion of time mechanics isn’t detrimental to the experience, but rather an improvement. Though admittedly, finding the best of both worlds may be the tricky part.

Nonetheless, immersion is important in video games, especially RPGs at that. It feels amazing to be able to enjoy the scenery, listen to the music and to explore every nook and cranny of the world. It’s important to implement time limit mechanics into them without losing that adventurous charm. Games like Persona are few and far in between though, and from my experience, I’m usually more worried about finishing my tasks than taking in the scenery and world, which isn’t the ideal way for me to tackle my RPGs.

Video games to me are fun, with an immersive fictional world for me to explore. Video games help me forget about the bustling real life where everyone is always in a rush. The “time limit” system however, is like an anti-thesis of all of those, and turns gaming into a sort of a chore — it turns gaming into another one of your many life obligations. I guess to that end, to encapsulate my point, implementing time limits in RPG is a bad idea all around in my opinion, even if there are rare titles that do get it right like Persona.

What do you think of time limits in video games?

This entry was posted by Kai.

2 thoughts on “Time Limits in Video Games

  1. I pretty much played all the most recent Atelier games and yes, Time management can be a pain, but it does lead to effectively using your time and forces the player to synthesize items that will work better and make better equipment opposed to creating tons of crappy bombs and having to use multiple ones to take down a monster along with planning out tasks and requests while wasting less time as possible.

    The time limit is not a big deal with Escha and Logy since you will probably finish all the main tasks to advance with a lot of time left over. Not to mention the health and items replenish when you return to town, reducing the need to recreate items and rest. Atelier Shallie got rid of the time limit all together, although Atelier Firis did bring it back with a 1 year limit as you need to get three letters. However, there is plenty of time to at least get all five letters and take the exam. Once you take the exam, there is no more time limit, allowing you to spend whatever much time to do all those quests and exploring.

    But yes, time limits can give an interesting game play, though I do agree that it can hurt the exploration aspect since everything takes time.

    • I will admit I still wasn’t used to it when I first played Rorona (my first Atelier game). I only did enough to progress through main story quests and had semi-decent items and equipment at best. After finishing Totori and Meruru, I tried going back for Overtime with my existing save file and found out the hard way just how bad I was, lol. I planned a little bit to see if I can make up for lost time and craft as many good items as possible for all the insanely OP bosses in Overtime, but figured it just wasn’t worth it since I missed too many things. Nothing short of replaying the whole thing is going to salvage this, lol.

      Yeah, the newer Atelier games sound more like my thing. Really exhausted after the Arland trilogy though and I have other games in my backlog I would like to prioritize first. Someday, I suppose.

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