From the authors of Remnant: From the Ashes, let's find out together, in our review, how Chronos: Before The Ashes behaves, a remake of a VR title dated 2016
The genre of soulslike has seen, over the years, an exponential increase in popularity which has led it to be, at least in the last few years of the last generation of consoles, a leading genre. Just think of titles like Code Vein, Sekiro or The Surge to show how much the love for these mechanics has taken hold, with titles not always of excellent quality, it is true, but with a noble soul. Dodging, parry, parry, counterattack, a not generous difficulty, equipment and death as the only certain element: the soulslike have entertained and infuriated many gamers. And the trail does not seem to want to stop here, quite the contrary. In fact, thinking that the remake of Demon's Souls, a title of two generations ago that very few had spun, is "the" first next-gen title from Sony gives hope for fans of the genre.
Our discussion on soulslike ends here, we have been too verbose. When in 2019 Gunfire Games presented its Remnant From The Ashes to the general public, the combination of soulslike and third-person shooter was able to capture the interest of many. Despite a rather weak start on the sales front, mainly caused by the excessive difficulty and woodiness of the title, the subsequent patches and the arrival of two well-structured and thought-out DLCs has enormously increased the interest of the public.
Not everyone, however, knows that there is a prequel of Remnant, called Chronos Before The Ashes, released in 2016 for VR devices. And not everyone knows that a revised non-VR version of Chronos recently came out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Now you all know, however, that this is the review of Chronos Before The Ashes.
Chronos Before The Ashes is a real prequel to the events narrated in Remnant, both for the main story and for the "lore" of the game world. Without spoiling too much, the cryptic script of Chronos tells of a protagonist, whose sex you can initially select and one of the two starting weapons (sword and ax). Our aim will be to explore the so-called Labyrinth, in search of a way to stop the Dragon who rules the monsters that have conquered the world. A world halfway between technology and medieval times, a combination that artistically makes everything truly appreciable.
From the start of the title, however, we immediately noticed something wrong. We don't talk too much about the poverty of the definition of the textures, considering the only VR birth of the title we certainly didn't expect a next-gen title, but of the commands. A word of advice: don't play Chronos Before The Ashes if you're coming from another fast-paced, fast-paced action-rpg. The commands of the Gunfire Games title are slow, flooded and with an annoying lag between the command input to the controller and the start of the protagonist's movement. It is actually something you get used to with the first two or three hours of play, it must be admitted, but it remains something that cannot be overlooked in the review.
Simple, perhaps too simple - Chronos Review: Before the Ashes
Once you have overcome the initial obstacle of getting used to the commands, solid gameplay will unfold in front of you, albeit perhaps too simple and lacking in choice. Initially, your warrior will be equipped with a simple wooden shield and a sword or an ax, based on the choice you made initially, which obviously will "climb", then increase their effectiveness, based respectively on your agility and your strength.
By grinding enemies on enemies you can level up and acquire two skill points to spend in the few features present. There will also be few weapons and shields available during the game, while as regards other types of equipment ... it is not present. The possibilities of direct customization of your hero are therefore reduced to weapon and shield, and to a mechanic that is the real beating heart of the title.
Getting older, getting wiser – Review Chronos: Before the Ashes
In fact, at every death your warrior will age by a year. If this may initially seem irrelevant for gameplay purposes, in the long run you will find that with advancing age the propensity towards some characteristics of your protagonist changes. So, if the snappy XNUMX-year-old obviously prefers strength, vitality and agility, as we age the joints start to ache and we move on to prefer arcane and magical abilities. Thus, a too old protagonist will require more skill points to increase strength, less for the arcane.
This interesting mechanic doesn't end here, because every 10 years you will be able to unlock a "perk", a permanent passive ability for the protagonist. These vary a lot according to the age of the character, ranging from the simplest ones such as an increase in life or experience obtained in the fights, to other much more intriguing (which we do not want to spoil you). The same attention, unfortunately, has not been devoted to upgrading weapons, which ultimately results in using a key within the inventory, spending stones dropped by enemies.
Occhio! – Review Chronos: Before the Ashes
The exploration of the game world of Chronos Before The Ashes is initially bored by a constant reuse of textures, which makes orientation difficult, especially in the first areas of the game. However, it must be said that, artistically speaking, the title of Gunfire Games works all right, managing to mix different styles and color palettes that make everything really pleasant. A pity for the little detail reserved for the interiors, for the most part bare and aseptic, but also here: the VR nature of the title makes itself felt.
The same nature that greatly influences the fights, slow and that are resolved with a little more patience in waiting for the right moment to attack. However, the difficulty of "soulslike" remains intrinsic, so if you are not careful enough you will see your life bar dry up in a short time. And since you won't be able to restore your healing unless you die, your attention will still have to be at quite high levels.
We also noticed a big imbalance between the arrogance and aggression of normal mobs, compared to bosses. The latter, in fact, although all very different from each other and quite inspired in the mechanics, will be practically all, with a few exceptions, really simple to beat. This is especially the case if you learn to dodge and counterattack carefully.
Between puzzles and low-resolution textures - Review Chronos: Before the Ashes
The game is also littered with environmental puzzles, all relatively simple and of little challenge, and with secrets scattered here and there, useful for finding new weapons or arcane upgrades that you can equip. However, all this does not affect the longevity of the title that much, which stands at about twenty hours. Of course it can easily be prolonged if you are particularly prone to the sad lady with the scythe. Or, more simply, if you don't have a sense of direction as effective as the writer.
Technically speaking, Chronos Before The Ashes is nothing special, which further underlines its nature as a budget title. Our test took place on a PlayStation 4 Pro and we obviously did not notice any drop in performance, nor particular bugs or crashes. The low resolution of some textures and the lack of fluidity of the animations, however, debase the general rendering of a title created with a lot of heart and many ideas in mind, but too little money.
Chronos Before The Ashes is, to close this review, another belonging to the list of titles that “could have been something more”. The mechanics of the protagonist's aging with each death is something particularly suggestive and interesting, but which is not enough to revive the fate of an overly woody combat system and a little variety in the personalization of the protagonist. The low-budget nature of the title is also reflected on the technical front, making the Gunfire Games title something just enough. A sufficiency dictated simply by the heart that the company has put into the creation of the title and which serves as a stimulus for the improvement of these little big ideas. We don't just want AAAs!6 Woody!
Points in favor
- Artistically inspired
- Interesting mechanics of aging
- Lots of good ideas
- Woody and slow
- Little customization possibilities
- Low budget in every respect