ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Review – Immersive and Emotional
Title: ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos
Release Date: December 3, 2020
Reviewed On: Oculus Quest 2
Genre: Visual Novel
The visual novel genre has seen some significant advances in recent years, which has garnered the niche gameplay style some more attention in the west. This leads me to respect the developers on the frontline trying new things for fans with quality stories using various means. Developer MyDearest is one of those who have brought their expertise in VR to create memorable narratives using the most immersive technology available. The result is the Chronos series, and now fans get to continue to explore this futuristic world in ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos.
ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos puts players in the mind of Chloe, a sort of test-tube baby who has been genetically modified to be the perfect soldier for the organization known as Prometheus. We are introduced to her well into her career as she defends the city of Makhia against invading creatures known as Meteoras. It’s revealed that years before, she was tasked with protecting a young girl named Coco, who ended up getting killed by one of the creatures.
Prometheus has two choices when facing off against the Meteoras, destroy them, or capture them for research. After losing Coco, Chloe’s only goal is revenge against them by killing them all. The tools used to take these creatures out are giant mechs assisted by an AI character named Noa. Throughout the story, we’ll learn more about these invading creatures, but what genuinely held my attention were the complicated relationships between each of the characters. The story seems to be inspired by popular cyberpunk media, including Blade Runner and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Chloe is not very likable at first, but I believe this is by design because we know little about her. Through flashbacks, we learn what fuels her desires, but players also play small roles in her fate. During the dialogue, players will be able to see Chloe’s Libra, an augmented choice-making system that has been put into the brains of people to help them make choices. These choices also reveal the effects on the user’s stats. This affects the branching narrative, but it’s important to note how the choice system has been implemented as part of the lore. Many of the gameplay elements that players can interact with are fine-tuned to keep immersion high without breaking the connection between the player and this world.
More importantly, the relationships between the characters are explored across the game’s multiple endings. You see different sides of them needed to get a firm grasp on the true ending. Each character has a range of emotions that play off their unique personalities. It’s almost scary at times as you explore their individual resolves and learn more about them. Sadly, I think Chloe’s character is the weakest in the opening hours because her need for revenge is just a bit overbearing at times on the player. Sure, she lost her friend, but that doesn’t mean she needs to make everyone around her miserable. Luckily, we see more sides of her in the following routes, but her early impressions just made the opening messy.
The cast is kept relatively small, but the story does find time to explain the world and how it is run. The technological advancements of humans seem to be focused on keeping citizens in a fantasy world as Prometheus wages war on the surface. Once that layer of naivety is removed, things become more interesting, and this is explored in certain routes. The themes revolve around politics, love, and sabotage for the most part as the Meteora the killed Coco reappears and ignites a whole series of events. It’s a roller coaster to the end, but it’s one that understands pacing and emotional delivery.
Creating this game in VR caused me to have a closer relationship with the characters as I was face to face with them. Having some control over the mech was also an entertaining system, even if it was mostly based on timing and small gestures. The graphics and character animations have been wildly improved when compared to Tokyo Chronos, including the environments. I should also add that both the English and Japanese audio tracks were amazing and brought a much-needed layer of immersion to the game.
My only issues were how some interactive adventure systems slowed the story down, such as needing music box oil for a music box when conveniently on the shelf behind you. I didn’t feel this added layer of gameplay helped the story as much as it just kept me from progressing. Additionally, a timeline system could have been explained a little better in the opening segments because it’s there but isn’t needed until after you complete a route.
ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos presents some exciting advancements in the VR visual novel space. It excels in creating a world with characters you care about across some emotional and action field story beats. I think a lot of feedback was brought into this project from the developer’s previous games, which have made it a stand-out adventure title and a must-play for VR owners.
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