REVIEW: ‘Chronos: Before the Ashes’ (PS4)

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Chronos: Before the Ashes

Chronos: Before the Ashes is an atmospheric action-RPG developed by Gunfire Games and published by THQ NordicChronos’s story acts as a prelude to Remnant: From the Ashes and chronicles a hero’s lifelong quest to slay a great evil and save their homeland.

Chronos: Before the Ashes sets itself before Remnant but not so far in the past that it becomes unrecognizable. Chronologically, the events of Chronos occur after the invasion of the Root but before our hero in Remnant sets out to remove the Root’s presence from the world. In Chronos, once a year, a World Stone awakens and opens a doorway to another world. As the most skilled warrior amongst your people, the player is chosen to brave this new world, to make their way through the Tower, and to ultimately slay the dragon that has brought evil to their world.

To do this, players begin at the age of 18 and will interact with the World Stone which will first send players to a castle filled to the brim with enemies. Traversing the familiar yet alien stone hallways, players will be tasked with slaying enemies, solving puzzles, finding new equipment, upgrading both your weapons and your character traits, and ultimately finding new worlds to traverse.

Unlike Remnant, your character’s age has a great deal of influence on your playthrough. Although everyone starts at the age of 18, each death results in your character aging an entire year. This year is supposedly spent outside the realm of the World Stone, but players will only have to deal with a long loading screen before getting back into the game. This age has a rather novel influence on game mechanics, however. Every ten years unlocks a special Trait that, for the most part, acts as a boon on your journey. When young, your character is attuned to being nimble and quick but when you reach a certain seniority, you won’t be able to upgrade your agility or strength but, instead, you’ll be more attuned to the arcane arts. Each time players fail, they’ll become wiser but their character will also change, requiring players to adapt.

Although you have the choice of two weapons starting out, a sword or an ax, the weapons you’ll stumble upon in the game expand the playstyles significantly. Most of these weapons are locked behind puzzles or hidden away in areas that are easy to miss, so being thorough in your explorations is a boon.

Mechanically, Chronos is rather similar to Remnant. Players utilize melee weapons that have both a quick and heavy attack. A Dragon Heart can be found at the start of the game which allows players to heal themselves. However, each Dragon Heart only lends to one heal so players will need to find more on their journey. The dodging and movement are also familiar along with the blocking mechanics.

Chronos also takes a note from Remnant in that each enemy type has vastly different movements and attacks which will require the player to adapt or die. In fact, some of the common enemies will probably be familiar to some. Many of the worlds you explore will be similar to those in Remnant which is why it shouldn’t be a surprise when you stumble upon the same enemies.

Chronos: Before the Ashes

But that is where the similarities end. Players will not be able to use guns or find any armor. The addition of magic is interesting, but it mostly just imbues your weapons with a powerful element for a short period. Interacting with World Stones no longer heals players, refills Dragon Hearts, or respawns enemies. The only way to do all the above is to die. And dying ages you another year.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Chronos’s levels are randomly generated like Remnant. This is pretty understandable because of the puzzles in the game—you can’t have key items spawning in random places. But this definitely means Chronos doesn’t have as much replayability.

While Remnant had some very good action and challenging boss fights, Chronos takes the action slower. There are few instances where you’ll encounter large mobs of enemies and although the bosses are aesthetically interesting, many of them don’t have multiple parts or require great skill to conquer.

Chronos particularly shines in its puzzles and its story. Players familiar with Remnant will recognize the handful of locations you get to explore along with many of the references to characters and events that are also referenced in Remnant.

The puzzles are never too overtly challenging, but they do require a decent amount of exploration and thought. There’s a wide variety of puzzles you’ll encounter from the simple collection of key items to figuring out which floor tiles are safe to step on. My personal favorite was finding a way to shrink yourself to grab a key from inside a locked bookshelf. Especially with less challenging foes to encounter, the puzzles are a great addition and make up for the lull in the action.

Where Chronos: Before the Ashes goes wrong is in comparison to Remnant: From the Ashes. As a prequel, this comparison can’t be helped. The reduction in action, lack of complicated boss fights, and the removal of guns are a step-down. But alone, it’s a good game. The puzzles are fun, and the story is interesting, especially when used as a foundation for the events of Remnant.

Chronos: Before the Ashes is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.


Chronos: Before the Ashes
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Where Chronos: Before the Ashes goes wrong is in comparison to Remnant: From the Ashes. As a prequel, this comparison can’t be helped. The reduction in action, lack of complicated boss fights, and the removal of guns are a step-down. But alone, it’s a good game. The puzzles are fun, and the story is interesting, especially when used as a foundation for the events of Remnant.