Being Timed in Games: Awesomeness or Stress?

I’ve admittedly slacked when it comes to the Final Fantasy series, and this whole Lightning saga, for the most part, has completely dropped off of my radar. It really makes me kind of a sad human being because some of my fondest youngin’ gaming day memories stem from Final Fantasy.

But this isn’t a “woe is me” Final Fantasy-esque post, rather it has something to do with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13’s doomsday clock. I suppose the best way to describe this thing is as a…well, a doomsday clock. During the game the doomsday clock (TAKE A SHOT EVERY TIME YOU READ DOOMSDAY CLOCK) will be constantly ticking to the tune of a 13 day countdown, during which players have to “accomplish certain things” within the time frame to beat Lighting Returns. While I wouldn’t be super thrilled with that feature (more on that in a second), all of this time/doomsday clock mambo-jumbo allows developers to do some fun stuff with in-game characters.

“The characters inside the game will live a life according to their 24-hour clock.”

And I think that’s super cool. I’m all for making my in-game friends as realistic as humanly possible. Assigning characters unique actions/lifestyles absolutely fuels mah realism fire, so I’m all about it; it turns my crank; it flips my switch. (If you’ve ever played the Harvest Moon series you’re probably familiar with this concept, and although basic, I remember appreciating the shit out of it.)


Delegating one-off, special “lives” (or whatever your want to call them) to characters requires a LOT of work and planning, so I commend Square Enix for this and I’m quite interested in seeing how in-depth they can make these schedules. (Y’know, moving characters from one location to another every other day or every few hours ain’t that impressive, but I think they’re gonna push it farther than that.) But here’s when my upside-down frown flips a bitch: According the video, “The clock limits the time that players have to accomplish certain things in the game. To beat the game you have to do these certain things in 13 days.”

Bahhhh. Okay, if there’s a doomsday clock (SHOT!) it’s pretty evident you’re going to be timed. But, like, BAHHH!

Personally I’m not, nor have I ever been, a huge fan of anything where I feel way pressured to rush through a segment. You know, being TIMED. But let’s say during the course of the game some seamless timed segment pops up, like a “HOLYSHIT!” need to escape from an exploding laboratory (THANKS UMBRELLA) I’m cool with it as long as, again, whatever timed segment it is fits with the story and doesn’t feel like a cheap challenge booster.

odd mushroom
I’ll let this one slide simply because it’s freakin’ Ocarina of Time.

But from the sound of it this entire game is going to be timed. Therefore my first *obvious* gut reaction is to be all, “EWWW THE ENTIRE GAME IS TIMED GET AWAY GET AWAY GET AWAY!” But on the other hand, I totally dug Majora’s Mask. Of course that was, erm, after figuring out I could easily redo the days. I guess my biggest concern with this system – and honestly it’s not like I have the biggest right to bitch and complain because I will likely never play this game – is my time is pretty limited, and after I wrap something up I don’t have much desire to fire up a second playthrough. I want to experience EVERYTHING I can on the first run. But what if I miss a crucial aspect of the game? I already know I’m going to feel pressured as hell, so I can’t imagine I’d be able to sit down and relax knowing that big ol’ clock is ticking down.

Now, whether or not this doomsday clock in Lighting Returns is going to be a you-better-bust-your-ass-broseph-timed or a psssh-don’t-worry-that-clock-is-really-just-there-for-effect-timed remains to be seen. That could make a world of difference for yours truly.

I’VE SPILLED MY HEART. I want to know what you think of this lil’ feature. Are you a fan of it? Do you think it’ll add a fun twist on the series? Let me know!


  1. If it’s done the way Majora’s Mask was then I think it could be a good game. One thing I’m curious about though is that in most of the FF series (I’ve played through FF1 – FFX, kind of fell away after that…) there was usually something else to do besides the main storyline where you could waste a lot of time basically doing nothing but having fun. If it’s an entirely timed game, how will that effect all the side stuff. Will there be little or none at all, who knows… Also being timed to 13 days, will it be a short FF game (well short for FF standards, haha)

    • Yeah! That’s my biggest concern. I want to aimlessly walk around and find those sidequesty things myself. We’ll see!

      • Walking around aimlessly and finding all that kool stuff you wouldn’t normally find is one of the best parts of the game!!

  2. The whole point of JRPG’s is too spend TONS of time doing other stuff, ESPECIALLY in the Final Fantasy and Star Ocean Franchises. This is just stupid and chaotic…

    • I’m a bit inclined to feel the same way, but I guess until we know the full deets it’s hard to really say. I’m curious how they’re going to make this work.

  3. Timing in games drives me BONKERS. I’m always like “ACK! WHAT DO I? HOW?? WHERE?!??!” and it tends to make me 3x more confused and stressed and I’m yelling at the TV and scaring my parents and…ugh. Even when the game easily gives you plenty of time I still feel anxious LIKE I HAVE TO BEAT THAT DAMNED CLOCK. It’s so ridiculous. The only time I even remotely liked that particular in game feature was Majora’s Mask (which coincidental since is also my favorite game of all time). I have yet to play FF XIII or it’s numerous sequels but I do have the game and plan on getting to it…at some point. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the concept of this particular game but it does sound really cool and more than likely I will own it eventually (if I get time to actually play it is a completely different issue). I’m also curious, is it like Majora’s Mask in that 3 days is actually only x amount of game hours? Or is it LITERALLY 3 days as in 72 hours? Does time pass when you aren’t playing? I’m really interested in where this project is going. All in all I’m equally upset with myself about slacking in the FF department,. The last game I truly finished was FF X-2. I really need to get my shit together!

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