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Chronos: Before The Ashes

Posted by GG Goblin On December - 10 - 2020

Before the VR, or after.

 
Gunfire Games’ Remnant: From The Ashes launched only last year and proved to be quite the sleeper success. However, many gamers without access to a VR headset will not have known that this was not the first game in the series, as Chronos launched for VR back in 2016. With the success of the sequel, it makes sense that Gunfire Games would release a non-VR version of the game, dropping in a more traditional third-person view point. Time to go before Remnant with Chronos: Before The Ashes.

 


 
Naturally set before the events of Remnant, Chronos sees the player dropped into a lifelong quest as an adventurer. The player gets to decide on the sex of their hero, along with starting weapons, but not much else before they head out to vanquish the evil that can be found in a mysterious labyrinth.

 
There are similarities here with various “Soulslike” games. The combat, while perhaps not as complex or tense, is thoughtful and involving. The hero has a heavy and light attack, along with blocking, dodging and parrying. Successfully pulling off evasion moves gives the player opportunities to improve their attack. More often than not the player will be facing individual enemies, and can then concentrate on attack patterns and dispatching them. Those worrying about the difficulty of a “Soulslike” game will be pleased to know that, on default difficulty, Chronos is not too taxing when it comes to the fighting, although it will obviously get more tricky as the game progresses. For the hardcore Souls players, the difficulty will have to be ramped up to find the challenge that they need, and even then may be a little on the easy side.

 
Other aspects, such as the enemies respawning after death and the lack of a map, also follow that “Soulslike” formula. When it comes to navigating without that map, it can be a little more tricky in Chronos due to the environments which, while are nice and varied, are perhaps not different enough to negate needless wandering. It is also made more difficult with plentiful puzzles for the player to work out when they are not fighting. The puzzles are not always especially difficult, mostly requiring taking something somewhere specific, but may take some concentration to find those “somethings” in the first place. Some of the more tricky puzzles may take a trip onto the Internet to solve, but mostly they just take a little thought and time.

 


 
As the player progresses, their character will find new equipment to use, level up and be able to improve their stats. It’s a natural progression that works well, complementing the thoughtful combat, the occasionally tricky puzzling and the labyrinth exploration. If this was all that was on offer, Chronos would be a middling adventure. However, Chronos has more tricks up its sleeve to add depth and flavour to the game.

 
Health regeneration is dealt with in a “Soulslike” manner, as in there isn’t a lot. The player will regain their health when they level up, or on using their Dragon heart. However, dragon hearts only replenish upon death, so the player will be spending much of the game panicking about their ever diminishing health, which will lead to plentiful deaths.

 
Perhaps the most interesting mechanic in Chronos is what happens when the player dies. Each death will lead to the character ageing by one year. As a young hero, agility, strength and vitality are easier to improve upon, but as they get older, it becomes more difficult. With age though, comes wisdom, and the arcane stat becomes easier to improve. Also, every ten years the player will get to choose a permanent buff for their character. This ageing mechanic adds a lot to the game, in that the player has to balance their age with how they want their character to evolve, and it certainly keeps things interesting.

 
Visually, the game looks really nice, but doesn’t have that gritty “Soulslike” feel. It is more cartoon-like and brighter, despite the muted colours in use. It’s not going to win any awards, and shows the 2016 VR origins of the game, but the visuals are not distracting. The camera can be a little awkward at times, occasionally blocking the view for the player, which can be frustrating when in battle or facing traps, but generally the game works as it should.

 


 
Chronos: Before The Ashes, the non-VR version, seemed to appear out of nowhere. It is not the longest game, but being that it started out as a VR exclusive title, this should be no surprise. The ageing mechanic works brilliantly and really adds a level of tension to progression. Outside of this, Chronos: Before The Ashes is more of a light take on the Souls game, so fans of that genre will find something here to enjoy, although raising the difficulty might be required to reach the same level of challenge. Remnant fans will also get a kick out of this prequel, even if it doesn’t quite excite to the same degree.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 



 

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