It has occurred to me that there a plethora of souls-like games on the market now and they are varying levels of decent. Chronos: From the Ashes unfortunately is one that props up the league table somewhat.
It is disappointing, as I wanted to like the game. There are plenty of good ideas and it is clear it was made with some love. Yet the end product feels like a mish-mash of ideas without a cohesive feel to proceedings.
I will get onto the various bits soon, however, I think a souls-like must do one thing to get players on board. That is to have things to do from the very first moments. Whilst the Dark and Demons Souls games, as well as Bloodborne, are slow burners, they still get you into the action nigh on instantly.
Chronos: Before The Ashes, on the other hand, has you wandering around an empty feeling bland area for way too long. The first 20 or so minutes have no combat at all and the first time you do eventually meet an enemy, they are simple to dispose of.
There is a distinct lack of fear that is vital to these games. The minions here felt like fodder for the sake of being there, rather than actually being a vital part of the world. My guard was let down due to the nothingness beforehand and wasn’t awoken with the first few encounters. It was boring.
Another issue comes from the world you are in and the way it fits with the story and character. Your playable character is provided with a wooden shield and basic sword which would be fine in the right setting. But here we are in a world where there are other better materials already around that would be better to supply you with.
Again, to go back to the Souls games, or even such titles are the recently released Morbid. The starting weapons, armour, etc makes sense within the world and your situation. Here is doesn’t.
I was expecting the game to be based in some far-flung world, or an ancient time. But no, instead we are dated in the 20th century and basic computers are even around. There is an industrial feel but everyone dresses like they haven’t learned about the modern world.
If there was a reason for this in the writing, then fair enough, but there just wasn’t. It was almost as if their world was built using various pre-built asset packs and then a half-arsed effort to tie them together.
It didn’t help that the storytelling gave me absolutely no reason to care about anyone in the game. There was no intrigue and no real development. Once again we point back to the games that started it all and they managed to world and character build in interesting ways. Something Chronos: Before The Ashes was completely devoid of.
As I stated early though, all this wraps around a bunch of decent ideas. the puzzle elements whilst basic are well structured and I enjoyed the combat when it did finally mean something. I also thing the worlds they made looked lovely. The lighting, the atmosphere, it was all there and it is clear work had been put into making the graphics really hit home.
The various areas look lovely in isolation, but just never work together., If we had some kind of anthology-style story to use these individual worlds, then we may have had a much better experience. But alas, the developers of Chronos: Before The Ashes went all-in on a souls-like and missed the mark by such a distance the inevitable counter was bound to end their run.
I am not sure what can be salvaged for this particular release, but I would like to see them take what they learn from this experience and try again. Even within the same genre. This time focusing on improving the cohesion of all the external elements outside of combat.
Once again, some nice ideas are here, but the execution is leaving way to much to make up. Which is a shame.