In many ways Chronos is a return to the golden era of PC gaming. With the industry is heading more and more down the path of micro transactions, paid DLC and yearly rehashed sequels, Chronos is a game for the player. Everything has a clear design and purpose, no need to spend hours planning out your base stats or deciding which gloves and boots best complement your build. While this may seem like a backwards step for RPGs compared to your Fallouts and your Witchers it feels more like a refined distillation. There’s no thick manual to read or story to catch up on, you just jump right in and enjoy the experience.
For everything it borrows from the past however it also takes from the present. Combat is tactical and brutal, you will die many times. But rather than a setback like the Dark Souls games it borrows from, death in Chronos is actually a good thing. In a stroke of design genius every time you die your character ages one year. Young warriors rely on strength and speed but these ability fade and are naturally replaced by wisdom and magic. You don’t have to choose between swords or spells, you progress from one to the next. In this way you are rewarded for taking risks.
Being one of the launch titles for the Rift, Gunfire Games made sure Chronos would be a comfortable experience. Essentially a 3rd person game where you are a stationary observer, the clever camera placement means you are always looking in the right direction. This is used to great effect for both comfort and setting you up to be amazed by the scenery. And amazed you will be, this is a beautiful world reminiscent Myst and Riven but in a more painterly style. Many VR developers use the platform to mess with your sense of dimension and reality and Chronos is no exception. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil the surprise suffice to say this game provided some of the best eurika moments I’ve ever had.
One thing I found lacking is the item list. Only a handful of weapons and powerups with no armour to speak of means it wont be the most replayable game ever. There are a few difficulty levels and weapon classes to chose from but I’m not sure it’s enough to pull me back in. Another niggling issue relates to the death-progression system. Obviously the game needs you to die enough times to level up, but being blindsided by a boss or doing an evasive roll straight off a ledge you didn’t notice can feel a bit unfair. But generally it’s cleverly balanced with limited healing potions available in each life. This means eventually you will die and have to retrace your steps, clearing the same areas again and gaining more experience.
The overall polish and design however easily makes up for any of it’s shortcomings. The animations are perfection. Sword swings have exactly the right amount of weight and ferocity. Shield blocks crash and rattle the character and he sidesteps like a man truly afraid for his life. It all adds up to really draw you into the world and invest in the story. While the story is your basic “chosen one sent to restore the fate of his people” cliché, the world has a real sense of history. From temple ruins to ancient artwork to mystical beings that speak in metaphors there is a strong feeling of hidden backstory.
When I first got my Rift I wanted to know how long I could spend in it. Would a proper gaming session make me feel ill or would the weight on my head prove to much? With 3 full chapters, and a thrilling world to explore Chronos was the perfect game to answer these questions. After knocking out the first chapter in one 5 hour sitting I knew two things. The Rift feels like a second skin and unlike a lot of VR games, Chronos has a full length campaign to justify its AAA price tag.
Chronos VR Final Review Rating
Final Score: 9/10 – A few niggling issues are all that hold it back from being a modern masterpiece.
- Excellent tactical combat
- Fun original puzzles
- Comfortable and beautiful
- Not many items to collect
- Story is a bit thin
- Game wants you dead