Chronos in the test: Slimmed down Soulslike with great ideas

Chronos in the test: Slimmed down Soulslike with great ideas
The prequel for Remnant: From the Ashes, published by THQ Nordic and developed by Gunfire Games, has been available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia since December 1st. This is called Chronos: Before the Ashes and takes a completely different direction than the survival shooter released in 2019. An action role-playing game with a subtle soul-like touch awaits us here. It's not a completely new game, by the way, in 2016 Chronos was released without the title addition exclusively for VR glasses. The new version has been massively revised and redesigned so that it also works as a "classic" video game. You can find out in our test whether the adventure is just as demanding as Dark Souls and Co. and what other qualities it has.

Table of contents

1 Into the cold water! 2 Wisdom comes with age 3 Soulslike or Soulslite? 4 A well-rounded affair

Off to the deep end!

The story begins with an old lady who packs the basic cornerstones of the story into a small narrative. Accordingly, there is not much left of the world as we know it after it has been ruined by beings from another world. Since then there are only a few people who have united in tribes and have been catapulted back to the Middle Ages in terms of sociopoliticalism and technology.

Apart from this intro and writings and books distributed here and there around the world, however, we hardly receive any more Insight into what happened a year before Remnant: From the Ashes began.

Opponents surprise you even in the smallest of spaces, which makes fighting and evading not always easy. Source: PC Games What do we have to do with this post-apocalyptic situation? As the chosen or chosen, we receive the privilege of killing the dragon responsible for this dilemma, who leads the beings who have reduced the world to rubble and ashes. He lingers in another dimension, so it's time to bring the war to him! At the beginning we are in a dilapidated bunker complex before we go into its territory armed with sword and shield. We only get the opportunity to step through one of several dimension portals once a year, which is why we should make the best possible use of this time.

Wisdom comes with age

The chic portal We often use stones for fast travel, which makes backtracking much easier. Source: PC Games This travel restriction without any corona rules is not just part of the cart. After a game over, we always come back to life a year later on the portal we visited last. With every death our character ages by a year, so an inexperienced person, who is 18 years old at the beginning, becomes a battle-tested and wise hero in the course of failures. This is reflected not only in the way we look but also in the way we fight. At the beginning, increases in physical attributes such as strength or skill cost much less than the investment in magic, but this trend is reversed with increasing age and more maturity. Accordingly, you should devote the majority of your younger years to physical exercise in order to be reasonably agile even at an advanced age. As in real life, the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to work on your physical condition. In addition, for our anniversaries, starting with the age of 20, we each receive one of three additional bonuses, such as increasing future experience points or more effective evasion of enemy attacks. We receive the last bonus when we are 80 years old! Failure is never nice, but at least it has a use in Chronos!

The menu is kept relatively classic, as are the attributes available to us. Source: PC Games Apart from this successful aging mechanics, which provide a little more tactical flavor, we are offered more classic role-playing elements. By defeating adversaries, we get experience points, which give us level ascents and thus attribute points, which we in turn invest in increasing our status values. On the way we find a handful of different shields and weapons that we can further strengthen in exchange for dragon shards. It is also important to create synergies between weapons and attributes. For example, a hammer can swing much more devastatingly if we have a pronounced power value, whereas a sword requires sufficient skill.

Soulslike or Soulslite?

Automatically saved regularly, mostly at passages or when changing areas. Source: PC Games In terms of the feel of the game, Chronos: Before the Ashes (buy now € 29.23) is clearly reminiscent of the genre-definers Dark Souls or Demon's Souls. When attacking, we can choose between a light and a heavy attack and our shield is used to repel or parry enemy attacks. This repertoire of possible actions is rounded off by the equally essential evasion and the use of the energizing dragon hearts that we accumulate in the course of our adventure. However, such a dragon heart can only be activated once per run and can only be used again after we have previously blessed the time. Finally, the equally rare dragon eyes give us different magical powers, depending on which one we equip ourselves with. For example, we can wrap ourselves in flames to make our subsequent attacks even more powerful.

The first boss fight takes a while and is not particularly demanding. Source: PC Games The fights are definitely not as intense and demanding as in classic Souls games.

Basically mistakes are more likely to be forgiven. The availability of healing items can be compared to Dark Souls in terms of quantity, but in contrast to this we are always completely healed. In addition, there is a hail of completely healing level increases, especially at the beginning. If we want to, these quick level-ups let us think twice. So you can say that we are dealing with a somewhat simpler and therefore more accessible Dark Souls.

There are clear differences in terms of boss fights. If we are warmly greeted and rammed into the ground soon after the start of Dark Souls, the first boss fight in Before the Ashes is a long time coming and is not even particularly spectacular or demanding. Both against bosses and standard enemies, the fights are not only objectively easier, they also feel less "massive" than in the Souls games from From Software. The attacks are less cumbersome, evasive action and defense are less direct and there is no jumping at all. In addition, only blocks and evasion consume stamina, not like in Dark Souls, where attacks should be carefully considered due to their stamina consumption. Before we jump into the game, we also have the choice between three levels of difficulty - something that is otherwise pretty frowned upon in the Souls genre.

A well-rounded affair

You can tell Chronos graphically : Before the Ashes clearly shows its VR origins. The game looks like a polished PS3 game and has little to offer to the eye apart from the atmospheric lighting effects. Here and there you walk through beautiful scenery, but most of the time you get lost in monotonous corridors and facilities. In any case, this look by no means justifies the quite long loading screens.

Nevertheless, the game world with its different backdrops manages to create a certain atmosphere. Our adventure is pretty linear in itself, but here and there we are not spared from returning to areas already visited. Fortunately, this traveling around is made easier for us thanks to special high-speed travel portals. Thankfully, backtracking is surprisingly a lot of fun, as you often grit your teeth at doors, riddles or puzzles only to find out later that a key item was simply missing. In some situations, items can even be combined, for example, if we have to abseil into a deeper hole with the help of a hook and rope. This alternation between fighting and puzzles is what makes the game fun. Only the lack of a map is annoying, as the individual rooms and corridors often hardly differ from each other and you often wander around too long in search of "that one place" where the previously found item would fit perfectly. Here the connection to the Souls shines through at a point where we would have liked to have done without it.

With this clunker in our hands that we need for some switches, we almost have Indiana Jones flair. Source: PC Games Visually as well as technically, Chronos: Before the Ashes is definitely not a milestone. But what it does makes it good. In any case, the lack of storytelling is a shame, potential is wasted here. But you are offered a pleasant challenge without frustrating, the interesting and very well implemented aging mechanics provide the necessary pinch of independence and thanks to the motivating puzzle and role play elements there is enough variety.

Mine Opinion

By Christian Volynskij

Author Less is not always more, but it is often perfectly okay. So far, I've always enjoyed dedicating myself to the soul-like genre, but only for a short time. Strangely enough, Chronos: Before the Ashes has now managed to keep me going a little longer than its big role models. I didn't find the simple appearance to be a problem at all, on the contrary, it ultimately depends on the inner values. Before the Ashes can score here despite the wasted potential of the narrative, because motivating fun and an appealing atmosphere are definitely offered here. Chronos: Before the Ashes (PC) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Chronos: Before the Ashes (PS4) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Chronos: Before the Ashes (XBO) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pros & Cons Simple, but well-functioning RPG elements Interesting aging mechanics Motivating puzzles Not very frustrating despite frequent deaths Hardly any storytelling Missing card inconvenient for backtracking More pros & Cons ... Conclusion A slimmed-down Dark Souls that does its job very well

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