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Thread - Souls of Chronos delivers a mixed bag of an experience

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#1 - 08:56, 15 Mar

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Souls of Chronos delivers a mixed bag of an experience

Sid is a young man trying to make his way in a world recovering from a horrifying event. By his side is Torii. Torii is a Chronos. A special being that feeds off of an individual’s time and in turn grants them exceptional power. Sid’s hometown of Astella is about to become the focal point of conflict as multiple factions struggle for control over it in Souls of Chronos from developer FUTU Studio and publisher Astrolabe Games.

If you can follow the story, you’re in for a creative narrative, but some areas were likely lost in translation. The conversations feel like direct translation, which makes the conversations dry, making it difficult actually to follow along. It doesn’t help that the auto-play speed moves the dialogue along as soon as it’s finished. And without recorded audio, you’re forced to read to know exactly where to go.

But Sid isn’t exactly your everyday gangster. He has a conscience, one you can choose to bring to light at certain points of the story or not. You do so via action and dialogue choices that pretty much set apart various Sid personas you may choose to have. That alone makes Souls of Chronos intriguing in that there are different ways the story could go, and to find the true ending; you may need to go through a tad bit of playthroughs. No complaints so far.

A stand-out feature of this game’s exploration is how it balances enemy refreshes as you wander areas. As the player clears out rooms, enemies don’t respond automatically when they return. Rather, the locations will only repopulate when the player chooses to rest, refilling their health. This system makes it so the player can avoid repetitive battles as long as they can work through the game’s encounters with enough skill to get by simply on the occasional healing potion. I’ve always loved when I’ve come across this mechanic in the past, and it functions just as well here.

Gameplay and encounters are pretty hectic. For the most part, they are messy and unorganized. As enemies run around, you’re at the whim of an auto-aim that points at the nearest enemy. While it works well, it’s tough to see what’s happening because everything overlaps. There is a dodge, but it’s challenging to read enemy telegraphs when you lose sight of Sid and Torii.

You’re free to upgrade and customize, either via skill points after completing each level, picking them up from slain enemies, or branching off to side quests. We mentioned how playing Sid alone could potentially become boring. It’s a pretty samey experience. Fun at first, bland at last. Fortunately, Torii saves the day.

The last element we need to talk about with Souls of Chronos is its distinct lack of polish. Dialogue boxes sometimes repeat themselves, characters are misnamed, forcing the player to reread statements to figure out what exactly is going on, character portraits sometimes don’t match who is talking, and some mission descriptions are less than helpful in pointing players toward what their actual objectives are. These hiccups are mostly small annoyances but can add up throughout the game.

Given that there isn’t any voiced audio, you will hear the game’s music over everything at all times. There are different tracks, but I opted to turn it down and put on an anime or watch Community for the millionth time because the busy work in this game is real.

When all is said and done, Souls of Chronos delivers a mixed bag of an experience. While I’m intrigued by the world and charmed by its main duo, lackluster combat and a narrative that felt at odds with its visual tone and star’s personality never allowed the game to truly come together in a way that feels satisfying.

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