In 2016, Gunfire Games released the RPG Chronos, which a lot of folks compared to titles like Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda.
While the game was generally well received, it had an extremely limited audience because it was a VR game on PC promoted by Oculus. So, you had to VR to play it.
Now the game has been overhauled and the VR removed, and this new version dubbed Chronos: Before The Ashes is now available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch and Stadia. Of course, with backwards compatibility, it’s on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S as well.
This review is the PS4 version running on a PS5.
Chronos: Before The Ashes (PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One, PC, Switch, Stadia)
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Released: December 1, 2020
ESRB Rating: T – Teen
Chronos: Before The Ashes serves as the prequel to Gunfire Game’s popular ARPG shooter Remnant: From the Ashes. Unlike Remnant, there is no multiplayer in this game
In Chronos, you play as either a male or female tasked with slaying a dragon inside a massive labyrinth.
You begin this quest as a fresh-faced 18-year-old. If, and when, you die you reenter the labyrinth a year older. Aging has its benefits, every decade you get to choose a trait to unlock that is beneficial (I guess they all are, I didn’t see the later ones). At age 20 you can get a super useful one that gives more XP, so you level up faster.
It also has drawbacks if you start getting too old. When you’re young, it takes two skill points to level your Arcane skill and just one point for Strength, Agility, and Vitality. As you become older, and I don’t know the exact age, it’ll start take two points for those and one point for Arcane. And naturally, an 80-year-old isn’t going to be as agile or strong as a 20-year-old.
Combat in Chronos is fairly basic; you have a few types of melee weapons that you can use for light and heavy attacks (and a charged heavy attack), a shield to block or parry with, and you can roll to dodge out of the way.
Just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy, especially on harder difficulties. This game is inspired in parts by Dark Souls after all.
Enemies hit hard. Some enemies are actually quite challenging. Most of the time however, with the exception of a few enemy types (like the big guys with the shield), 1v1 battles are pretty easy. Things can get a little tricky when you’re up against two or more enemies, especially if you get close to a wall due to how the camera works in the game.
When you’re not in combat, you’re traversing the labyrinth gathering items and solving puzzles.
For the most part, the puzzles aren’t all that difficulty. Unless you’re following a guide or have played through the game before, there will likely be some that’s going to make you pause for a minute before realizing that you need to go into your inventory and combine two items to make one, or you may have to backtrack and find a key or something that you missed.
Luckily, when you need to backtrack, enemies only respawn when you die. So you’re free to explore and look for whatever item you missed without needing to fight your way through again.
While the puzzles aren’t hard, they do serve as a nice change of pace from the combat and make exploring worthwhile since some of them just have a new weapon or dragon box behind a door.
And of course it wouldn’t be a good RPG game if it didn’t have good boss fights. Chronos has boss fights that are story based, meaning you’ll need to do them to progress, and optional bosses that aren’t necessarily needed but you’ll probably encounter anyway.
I can’t speak for the hard difficult because I didn’t play on that, but for the most part the boss fights don’t get too crazy. There’s different phases where they’ll begin to change their attack up, so that’ll keep you on your toes some, but for the most part they’re telegraphed well and you’re just rinse and repeating attacks with evades.
They’re fun encounters though. The first boss I came across, the Cyclops, I immediately ran up to not knowing I couldn’t actually do damage (there’s a puzzle you have to do to actually be able to fight the boss) and immediately killed me. Once I actually initiated the fight though, he went down without ever connecting an attack on me.
There are six boss fights in the game.
Once you learn the puzzles and know the paths and know where everything is at, subsequent playthroughs of the game (if you choose to play it more than once) likely won’t be more than a few hours long.
All around, Chronos looks good, sounds good and plays good. For a budget priced title at $30, I don’t think you can ask or expect much more.
You’re getting a fun RPG here that you can tackle on three difficulty settings, and the replay factor here for those looking for it would be seeing how fast you can clear the game on the hardest difficulty setting and with the fewest amount of deaths.
While the story isn’t interesting or seemingly relevant, maybe more so for players of Remnant (not sure, haven’t played it), the gameplay itself is engaging enough to hold attention.
Character levels fast enough that you can grow more powerful, and actually feel more powerful, that you’re never slogging along for too long.
There’s enough fun here to last several hours, more if you really enjoy it and want to master the game and speedrun it (which I’d venture to guess would be a very small percentage of the playerbase). Definitely enough to justify the asking price.
If you’re looking for a good, fun RPG that’s not going to take up a whole lot of time and is also fairly cheap, the Chronos: Before the Ashes should be a definite pick up for you.
Chronos: Before the Ashes gets a three out of five: GOOD.
* Digital code provided by the publisher for review.