The upcoming jRPG Cris Tales looks set to use split-screen multiplayer unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. That’s because the game incorporates local co-op through a unique time manipulation system. You can be playing at one point in time, while your partner is either in the past, present, or future.
This news comes from a Goombastop interview with Cris Tales Lead Producer Derek Neal. When asked about split-screen, he says that “you can see past, present, and future all on the same screen and all at the same time.” This creates a scenario where three versions of any event can take place at a given time. How this will emerge in-game hasn’t been revealed yet, but if you die and your teammate stays alive, then it might create this time differentiation.
Coming up with an idea as innovative as this was no easy feat. Neal says that there was “a lot of prototyping” to perfect the formula. Early versions of the mechanic made it difficult to differentiate between past, present, and future. Now optimized for all consoles, performances will be stable.
The ability to manipulate time comes thanks to protagonist Crisbell’s special powers. As confirmed in a recent gameplay preview, Crisbell’s powers emerge from a magic frog, with whom she works to take down the Empress of the Ages. Even more than just in multiplayer, this time manipulation comes into the single-player campaign too. They’re a key part of the combat system, allowing Crisbell to transition between times mid-battle to defeat foes. They’ll also work alongside Crisbell’s companions and other NPCs, though how this happens isn’t clear yet.
Luckily, the wait for Cris Tales is very nearly over. After releasing more gameplay last week, developers Dreams Uncorporated are gearing up for the July 20 release date. It’s releasing for both previous-gen and current-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles as well as Nintendo Switch and PC. There’s also some astounding collector’s edition extras, too.