Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers Review – The Pixar-Like Prodigy

Destiny Connect pretty much crept out of nowhere from NIS, the guys behind the retro-styled Disgaea series. When a game suddenly appears from a developer with beautiful 3D western-style animation resembling an early Pixar film when the best you can usually expect is a dark, isometric 2D game with some light comedic dialogue, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It really is a gorgeous game, and the JRPG we never knew we needed.


Our story takes place in the town of Clocknee at the turn of the millennium, on December 31st, 1999. It’s a small, yet modern hamlet, filled with eccentric locals and quirky traditions. New Year celebrations serve a second purpose in Clocknee, as they also include the Soulman festival, a tribute to a local celebrity who disappeared after saving the town from some mysterious threat in the past, yet very little is actually known about the Soulman, with some considering him a rockstar, while others claim he’s nothing less than a superhero.

The game focuses on 10-year-old Sherry Aldeis, who eagerly awaits the return of her frequently absent father, a travelling inventor. At midnight, as the town and its residents celebrate the new year, all time suddenly freezes. People stop moving in place, the fireworks are frozen in the air, and aggressive machines, from television sets to steam irons appear and begin attacking and abducting the frozen people.

Only Sherry, her best friend Pegreo Bachfaren, and a few other friends and family members, including the eccentric Dr. Cheatstein, are somehow immune to the phenomenon. Sherry must piece together why time has stopped in the town of Clocknee at the turn of the millennium, why those frozen in time are disappearing and where exactly her father disappeared to prior to this.

Sherry also discovers a powerful ally in the form of her father’s time-travelling robot, Isaac, who is tasked with protecting her. Sherry, Pegreo, and Isaac begin investigating what caused time to freeze and how to save their town, with their adventures taking them back and forth throughout time, meeting more fascinating allies along the way.


Destiny Connect plays like a typical classic JRPG, in which you explore Clocknee in the past, present and future, investigating mysteries in order to return the present-day Clocknee back to normal. Exploration is fairly simple, as you navigate various environments, engaging enemies, opening treasure box microwaves, and finding collectable orbs hidden around the town.

Combat is fairly quick and works with a nice, simple turn-based formula, though battles aren’t random and can be avoided if you’re nimble enough, however you may still get the occasional game over screen if you neglect to heal and properly equip your party. You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to level-up your stats and farm items as Clocknee’s territory cleverly expands during the story.

If you hit an enemy before they see you on the map, you get a first-attack bonus. On the other hand, if an enemy touches you first, they get the initiative, and you are put at a disadvantage. Human characters can attack, use skills and items, whereas Isaac can take on a variety of combat roles, transforming into various forms to give him an edge in battle, with skills adapted to suit his class.

By levelling up, your characters unlock new skills which can be upgraded by using certain items you can find out in the world and from battles. Each character’s ability set is very different, and it gives them a unique role that allows you to strategize accordingly. Human characters don’t change their weapons very often; instead, you can equip mods to their weapons that will enhance their capabilities.

Isaac is unique in that if his health drops to zero, you get an automatic game over. Additionally, Isaac doesn’t always learn skills by levelling, and he cannot equip armour and accessories as the human characters can. Instead, he can equip gears which vary in quality to upgrade his stats and unlock new skills.

As Isaac levels up, he unlocks more gear slots, which means you can slowly enhance his capabilities over time. Additionally, you can upgrade gears you have slotted to a higher tier, to get higher stat bonuses and make the most of your gear slots. Gears can be crafted using parts which you get out of treasure box microwaves or from killing enemies.

Isaac also cannot use items, which means that if his health gets low, one of your other characters will need to use an item or a skill on him, however Isaac’s variety of transformations change his battle capabilities and make him able to fill multiple combat roles in a single battle. Transformations do not consume a turn, so you can easily swap Isaac’s role to suit any situation.

There are various facilities that you will use during your time in Clocknee, such as the Café, which sells healing and supportive food items, and equipment, including weapon mods. There is also the workshop, which you use to augment Isaac. You can also take a nap at Sherry’s house to recover full health.


Graphically, it really does look superb. There’s an almost Disney quality to the characters which makes everyone look so terribly cute. It works incredibly well with Clocknee’s homely aesthetic to produce such a welcoming game.

As stunning as the visuals are, even this is outclassed by one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The music is a non-stop rollercoaster ride of power tracks, with something for every situation. Clocknee’s opening is lively and upbeat, dungeons and combat fields have an ominous chill to them, and the various combat themes are all catchy rock anthems which never fail to get the adrenaline pumping.


The slightly linear game design combined with most of Clocknee’s residents being incapacitated means there aren’t that many side-quests available. Instead, you can expand your playtime by collecting upgrade gears and water orbs. Water orbs are used to purchase costumes for Sherry and allow her to take on all sorts of different looks, from sporty, to cute, to classy, and beyond. Remember, Sherry is a child so don’t go in expecting any fan-service here.

Whilst I’m usually all about those tasty platinum trophies, there comes a point when you have to say enough is enough. When the grind required to achieve a platinum is so immense that attempting it would spoil your experience of an otherwise excellent game, you know it’s time to quit while you’re ahead. Nevertheless, Destiny Connect is something special, and worthy of a playthrough even without a platinum to show for it.

But why drop the trophy hunting? Well, an additional 20 hours of farming upgrade gears randomly dropped by enemies which are required to max out everything. Item drops are largely random and so you’ll need to really put in the hours to master each character, unlocking every last trophy. This will needlessly double your playtime, and with no ‘New Game Plus’ mode included to make for a less repetitive session, this is far too much work to ask of the player.


NIS has done incredible work with a limited budget here and whilst voice acting has been skipped entirely in order to free up funds for presentation, don’t let this put you off as you’re in for a stunning adventure and, at under 20 hours for a standard playthrough, it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome.

There are minor flaws here and there if you look out for them, mostly in the writing department. This seems to be a common trope when games take on a concept as incredibly complicated as time-travel. Games like Time and Eternity and even numerous Final Fantasy titles have suffered from hefty plot holes when tackling similar themes.

I’m largely nitpicking, yes, but the ending did seem a tad sudden and could use some fleshing out, while there are a few minor characters who fall short in the development department, such as Sherry’s troublingly uninterested mother, which can lead to some moments of strange dialogue here and there.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the writing usually hits a home run 90% of the time. Sherry is incredibly well-written as a character. She’s anything but the flirtatious teen archetype usually associated with female protagonists. Sherry is a spirited young girl with a sense of adventure and a kick-ass laser-powered hair dryer, who just wants to find her father. This isn’t a ‘coming of age’ story; it’s a tale of family bonds and fulfilling one’s destiny.

Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers is a solid JRPG that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys games with traditional mechanics but craves a homelier feel, which is usually found in very different genres. As a fan of JRPGs in general, I’m always looking for a familiar-feeling RPG that does something to set itself apart from the rest. Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers is a perfect example of this, and very nearly a perfect game too. It’s a charming, fresh, unique experience that I wasn’t expecting. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a hidden gem that the initiated shouldn’t overlook.

It’s the adorable characters you’ll fall in love with throughout the adventure, as everyone brings something to the narrative, a narrative which is complimented by one of the greatest soundtracks ever created. Get rid of those incredibly grindy trophies which require far too much effort (or at least give us a ‘New Game Plus’ mode) and you’ve got a bit of a masterpiece on your hands here. It’s simply stunning.


  • Beautiful story and characters
  • Gorgeous presentation
  • Amazing soundtrack


  • Some minor plot holes
  • Horribly grindy trophies

Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers


Destiny Connect is one of those stunning rare gems that you stumble across among the ocean of B-list games and feels all the more special because of it.

Gary Green
PS4 version reviewed