It’s always a tough financial decision to make a VR-only game. Sure, they can create certain kinds of immersive experiences that might serve the game better, but they also massively reduce a game’s audience size. Chronos: Before the Ashes was released for VR nearly five years ago and it’s finally available for people who don’t own or have access to a VR setup. Some changes have been made and the landscape has shifted some since it’s initial release, so the question stands: is it worth it?
Chronos: Before the Ashes has a subtitle added to bill it as a prequel to Gunfire Games’ later title, Remnant: From the Ashes. More specifically, the original game created the world and Remnant came to fruition later. As that game ended up being much better known than its older sibling, Gunfire is making that connection more obvious this time around. This game is certainly similar to its successor in numerous ways. There are World Stones, mentions of the Wards, and general stylistic similarities. It should be noted that they’re incredibly different games though.
This game’s setup is as standard as action-adventure games come. You play as a person who is destined to slay a dragon for the supposed betterment of the world. In order to fight the dragon, Chronos: Before the Ashes has you dispatch different guardians that live in three different places. Along the way, your player character, whose sex you choose at the start, has their arm mutated by a tree creature who gives them magic abilities to aid them in fighting the dragon. There’s plenty of lore to be found and dialogue is fully voice-acted. Much like Remnant, the story isn’t all that interesting.
Stab, don’t shoot
Speaking of which, Remnant is a third-person looter shooter with Souls-like elements. But Chronos: Before the Ashes is a straight-up Souls-like. You have nimble or slower weapons, can equip a shield, have access to magic, and progression is tied to bonfire stand-ins. The game is much less difficult than its inspiration if you play on normal, but it still has some challenges up its sleeves. The combat is enjoyable, and I like that dodging and attacking doesn’t use up stamina. It’s a bit of a Souls-lite, I suppose. And you don’t lose experience upon death. Depending on your perspective, the penalty for dying is either much lighter or infinitely harsher.
When you die in Chronos: Before the Ashes, your character ages a year. You start the game at 18 and can age until you hit 80. You can’t lose your save, though, as each new decade of age grants perks and the only one you get at 80 is immortality. The main difference that age makes other than cosmetic changes is that it dictates how many points it takes to level up stats. A young character will spend one point on strength to level it up and three points on magic. An old character will need to do the inverse. It’s a nifty idea, even if it means that players that are bad at the game can screw themselves.
Chronos: Before the Ashes is very much worth playing five years later. The original release had fixed camera angles and this one switches to third-person. This is mostly fine other than some instances where the camera freaks out or when you can’t see items very well due to the shift in perspective. It’s an excellent Souls-like, especially if you appreciate adventure game elements where you need to search for items and figure out where to use them. If you like Souls-likes and even if you don’t like Remnant, I’d say this game is worth it.