Initial release date: December 1, 2020
Genre: Action role-playing game
Developers: Gunfire Games, THQ Nordic
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: THQ Nordic, THQ
"Review Copy Provided by THQ Nordic"
Chronos: Before the Ashes was initially a VR game set as the prequel to 2019’s smash hit Remnant: From The Ashes set about a year before the events of that game. When it released as a VR game it was massively praised for its atmosphere and gameplay and really was a game that allowed fans of Remnant to be further immersed in the world giving more context to things you saw in the previous game. Fast forward a year later, and we have the prequel remade in a third person format similar to the Souls games. The question is, does this game live up to the original VR release as well as the previous entry? Let’s find out!
You’re setting out to slay a dragon. Nuff said! Chronos Before The Ashes takes place shortly before the events of the Remnant: From the Ashes.
To explain the gameplay in its simplest form; it’s Dark Souls-lite. In no way is this game as hard as Dark Souls or Souls-style games, yet, that doesn’t mean its easy by any means.
The controls are set up with almost the same vein as a Souls game with the basic swift attack being the right bumper and the right trigger being your strong slow attack. The left bumper is your block with left trigger being the parry button which, if timed right, will allow you to open the enemy up to deal a devastating attack. You’re able to sprint with the B button which will drain your stamina gauge as well as dodge roll which doesn’t drain your stamina gauge. The A button allows you to interact with various objects such as the various scrolls that you find, and keys and items dropped by enemies. The X button allows you to activate a spell that, depending on the dragon eye quipped, will give you a lot of power or boost you defense significantly. The Y button allows you to use your Dragon Heart restoratives which are limited to how many that you have available on you; using them opens you up to being attacked as the start up is rather slow.
What sets this game apart from Dark Souls is the fact that this game is very much puzzle centric with some Resident Evil style puzzles requiring you to remember patterns for various locks and doors as well as needing to combine various items in order to solve the games various puzzles. You may need to take a certain plate that activates the flow of water in one room to one in a completely different area to progress. There are even puzzles that have you moving objects to on a pedestal to match up certain icons in order to open doors to new locations and more.
Another area that sets this apart from a standard Souls game is the fact that you don’t pick up any items for healing or weapons from defeated enemies and have to find weapons around the levels and healing items are only found from the Dragon Hearts that you find in each level. The only way to restore your healing items is to effectively die which is an interesting mechanic in and of itself because dying not only restores your Dragon Hearts but also ages you 1 year. In dying you age one year and thus it not only alters your stats but also the appearance of your character; an example being that as you get older, some stats will drop as you age such as strength and speed yet others like wisdom will continue to grow.
This game is not at all a graphical stunner as it looks very much mid-late PS3/360 like and if I’m being nice I could say it looks like…….well no I cant even honestly say it’s a last generation title because it doesn’t at all look like it at all. Environments are pretty barren with not a lot of details in them and even less to interact with. Enemies are all generic looking and don’t have anything stand out about them
Performance wise, the game runs no matter what you play it on at 30fps if not lower than that if you play it portably on the Nintendo Switch. On the Xbox Series X and One X it doesn’t have any slowdown at all, however, it is incredibly disappointing that the game does not take advantage of the consoles horsepower
There isn’t much to talk about here as there’s barely any spoken dialogue and there isn’t much in the way of a soundtrack either. It’s mainly just grunts and snarls, ambience of the environment, and that’s about that.
I covered that earlier and I’ll reiterate here; the fact that this game doesn’t utilize the power of the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro to give higher fidelity graphics and 60fps is incredibly disappointing. Even playing this game on the Xbox Series X as I am, I would expect to have some boosts in performance and yet aside from a bump in loading speed there is nothing.
Playing this on the Nintendo Switch is, for the most part, ok……. If docked and painful if in portable mode with a framerate dropping below 20fps which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If the Switch can run both Doom games then what is going on with this game running so poorly?
Gunfire games have honestly created one of the most enjoyable and accessible Souls-style games to be made and I love them all the more for it. While the game may be light on the story, it more than makes up for it with enjoyable gameplay, solid controls, and deep combat, and an approachable difficulty curve. Chronos: Before The Ashes is a solid game that you should definitely pick up and play!