Publisher: THQ Nordic | Developer: Gunfire Games | Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed on PS5), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Stadia | Code Provided to We Got Comms for Review Purposes
Chronos: Before The Ashes on consoles is a direct port of the 2016 Oculus Rift exclusive of the same name — and it shows. As you can imagine from a title going back to the early days of virtual reality, it’s not super graphically detailed or combat intensive as you would expect from other flat-screened action games. Regardless, Chronos is still a good 10+ hour action RPG that most closely resembles a Demon’s Souls LITE where even the smallest enemies can be threatening and capable of taking you out with a few swipes. Like the Souls series inspiration that it wears proudly on its sleeves, Chronos tasks you with a combat system that is equal parts patience as you wait to react to enemy attacks and calculated when delivering your counters. It’s “aging” mechanic is interesting, but it simply boils down to making sure you allocate upgrades to certain stats before you become “too old” and have to switch up your strategy a bit. I would’ve liked the graphics to have received a visual makeover, or even a slight spit shine, on their way to the flat screen — and some kind of map system to get you through some of the tedium when finding your way through the different stages. Despite that, Chronos still delivers on what can be a rewarding experience when finally taking down powerful enemy foes and it’s a more forgiving Demon’s Souls at half the price.
7/10 – Good
On the Cutting Room Floor…
Chronos is considered a prequel to the third-person action RPG: Remnant: From the Ashes and there’s plenty there for returning fans and new players alike. Having played Remnant is not a requirement, though, as Chronos tells its own self-contained tale told through the environments you explore, books and terminals strewn about in a world of industrial decay crossed with mythical beings that gave me vibes reminiscent of Team Ico games.
When in Doubt…Heavy Attack!
Leveling in RPGs is always a tricky thing. Most games want to introduce fresh mechanics while still retaining some of the basics that have been staples in the genre. For Chronos, there’s the expected magic moves and melee weapon attacks but also an “aging” mechanic. Ultimately, the aging mechanic is interesting but it doesn’t really seem to matter much…at least not from what I could tell. Yes, you want to allocate upgrades to Strength and Agility first and as you get “older” they will cost you more to upgrade, but really, that just meant I poured most everything into those two stats early on and was able to beat the game at the age of 56 before seeing any adverse effects from it. There’s some good “magic stones” and weapons found throughout your adventure; I mostly stuck to my trusty sword and Fire and Shadow Stones. And, remember, if it goes from bad to worse, you can always trap an enemy in a corner and heavy attack away!