Chronos: Before The Ashes Review

Chronos: Before the Ashes a prequel to Remnant: From the Ashes. Developed by Gunfire games. Chronos: Before the Ashes was originally a VR game with the name Chronos that was well received by critics and players alike but then suddenly faded from view.

It has now been optimised for consoles with the camera being over the shoulder, 3rd person. Having played everything Fromsoft has to offer up to this point I personally feel Chronos holds it own as a Souls-like.

Chronos has 3 difficulty settings to choose from; Casual, the easiest setting focused for those who wish to learn more about the cryptic lore that Souls-likes are known for, with no real challenge from the enemies you will encounter; Adventure, which I haven’t personally tried though I understand will give those a balanced experience; and Heroic difficulty, which is the one I decided to go with and it gave me, in my opinion, the best experience I could hope for. On Heroic you will die, and die, until you give Chronos exactly what it wants…

Your very best.

Puzzles, as far as I could tell, are not affected by difficulty level. You will come across many puzzles with them getting progressively more difficult, but they didn’t need more than an hours attention. 

The story of Chronos begins much like Remnant: From The Ashes, where you start on a beach with a storm raging on around you. Taking on bosses as you progress though the areas that will seem very familiar if you played Remnant.

Each area looks vastly different than the previous ones, which helps create a diverse atmosphere with beautiful visuals that did impress me, all with their own puzzles and enemies becoming increasingly difficult as you progress. The audio work across them is also excellent, really immersing you in the environment and gameplay. Unlike most Souls-like games, the checkpoint system which Chronos offers (a stone rather than a bonfire) will not heal you and reset the area. Instead you will have to die, and resurrect, in order to gain your healing items back.

Due to the Souls-like genre becoming more saturated, it would have been easy for Chronos to fade in the background much like the fate of its VR counterpart. However with Remnant having a reasonable following, I think many will flock to the game to discover its roots (pun intended). That said, Chronos is certainly it’s own game.

The combat is tight and very fluid with it becoming better and better as you die, which brings us to the games main mechanic: In Chronos, when you die, you age. I personally felt intrigued to find out just what that would entail. Every time you die you age 1 year. Every 10 years you are given a choice between 3 passive skills, each having their own benefits for the levelling route you’ve decided to go down, all the while looking more grey and battle worn to the tests of time.

There are 4 attributes you can level; Vitality increases your health; Strength will increase your blocking capability while also increasing the parry chance window; Agility will be for those that would rather dodge, increasing the I-frames dodge chance window; and Arcane, which I’ll get to in a second.

Both Strength and Agility increase the base damage you do with your weapon of choice, each having a specific attribute that they benefit from. Unfortunately the weapons don’t get very extravagant so I ended up with sticking to a weapon type I most enjoy on games such as this.

As I say, Arcane is different. You will eventually gain access to an ability that only activates when you either use the ability when you’ve filled the gauge, get a parry, or dodge successfully. Levelling Arcane will increase how much these abilities benefit from it. You focus more on Arcane as your character inevitably ages, getting locked out of levelling Agility and Strength if you die too often.

My biggest issue with Chronos: Before The Ashes is that it had no customization other than a gender change. Part of the experience for me is being able to create and customise my hero either by making them look heroic or downright ridiculous and there is no armour to be seen throughout the game.

Conclusion

I could not put Chronos: Before the Ashes down and fully enjoyed every minute of it. I could only wish it was longer with me clocking in 20 hours on Heroic difficulty. All in all a phenomenal experience, albeit shorter than I would like, though due to its VR roots I expect this had some factor in that.

The story of a valiant hero slaying the dragon isn’t ground breaking but sets the tone perfectly for what is a very fun experience. The audio and visuals are both fantastic complimenting each other perfectly. I cannot wait to see what Gunfire Games have in store for the future of the Ashes franchise.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Ambitious age mechanic that pays off
  • Combat feels slow but fair and easy to master
  • The puzzles are creative
  • Audio and visuals are great
Bad
  • Would have liked to see it a last a little longer
  • Zero customisation
  • No New Game+
7.8
Good
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 8
Audio - 8
Longevity - 6
Written by
I've been playing videogames since my mum bought me an amiga for Christmas. I don't have a favourite platform but I like to play as many games as I can with the Souls series being my favourite. Fromsoftware are my preferred developers - the more difficult the videogame the better! I have a soft spot for 8-bit games and 8-bit soundtracks. Co-op games are also high up on my list.

2 Comments

  1. Do you know if you can age out of the game? The way the age system seems, it stops after a certain point. It makes me less willing to experiment or take chances (something encouraged by the Souls games) because it seems like the player is only allowed to die so many times.

    Reply
    • The only answer I can give you without spoilng too much is there is no perma death.

      Reply

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