Chronos: Before the Ashes was once a VR exclusive on the Oculus Rift that launched in 2016. Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t realize it was developed by Gunfire Games or that the game even existed up until recently when it was revealed to be coming to consoles. As it were, it did reasonably well as an exclusive but now that the game has hit a wider audience, how does it fare as a third-person action-adventure title? Surprisingly decent, and for fans of Remnant: From the Ashes, this serves as a prequel to last year’s hit that does enough but never really hits any highs.
While a lot of the game remains faithful to the VR-exclusive, there have been adjustments made to appeal to a wider audience who don’t have an Oculus to play this on. Gunfire’s retooling of the controls and camera angles serve the game decently but you know that this was never the intended idea when the developer released this game.
While Remnant: From the Ashes combines the use of guns with the mechanics of a Souls games, and surprisingly played well. The mechanics were sound and the gameplay was engaging. I spent about 30 hours with it when it launched on Xbox Game Pass before calling it quits. Hearing this was a prequel to that, I was a bit worried I’d burn out faster than I did with the original and while this game is more traditional, it still uses similar mechanics that are hard to play with for an extended period.
So, what’s Chronos: Before the Ashes exactly about? Well, it’s set within an interconnected world and takes place roughly a month or so before Remnant: From the Ashes. The mythology and story are rather interesting and you play as a young, unnamed hero tasked who must descend into the Labyrinth, a place that opens once a year in-game. The interesting mechanic the game offers is how time is utilized and how if you fail in the Labyrinth, you must wait a whole year to be able to return. I found the mechanic to be refreshing and the reasoning behind using such a young protagonist makes sense, and the longer you play, your character ages, so your stats like strength begin higher and begin to drop the older you get in-game.
To balance this, you can use traits to make your time in the Labyrinth to make each visit easier, and these occur during larger 10-year increments. And I noticed my character’s appearance change over time, looking older with time. It’s a neat way to show progression.
Incidentally, the combat uses the familiar light and heavy attacks paired with the ability to parry and dodge attacks. The opening hours ease you into the action but never really take off. Combat is often easy but can feel a bit sluggish at times and the use of a Dragon Heart lets players heal when needed and refills each run. There is no stamina to worry about and the lock-on targeting works but often leaves the camera in odd positions. Paired with several enemy types, you’ll be tasked with learning their patterns and parry them but I had little trouble with their tells and combat falls flat in this regard.
With the action being slower than Remnant: From the Ashes, a lot of the enemies are centered around personal encounters when compared to large groups of enemies in Remnant. Bosses are also not up to par with what ones you’d encounter in a proper Souls game, and they fall much easier.
Puzzles also play a role within the game with comparisons to The Legend of Zelda series but I was never able to find the connection. If anything, I can say it seems like it pays homage to the Resident Evil series by collecting items then using them later on to discover new pathways, doors, and what have you. None of the puzzles are challenging so I’m a bit disappointed in that regard.
Chronos: Before the Ashes is a decent game but shows its shackles from the Oculus Rift exclusivity. Do I like the game for what it is? I do, but it comes at a time where games like Demon’s Souls recently launched. But it’s a more cartoonish take on the Souls series with some decent ideas, interesting lore, and interesting enemies to tackle. Combat is also much more forgiving than any clones so you can get away with outlandish mistakes and not be penalized. For what it offers, the game is decent but it’s nothing you won’t get the fear of missing out on.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]