I don’t think I’ve ever said “man this VR game is great. They should make a non-VR version of this.” To be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever said “man this VR game is great….” Had I the opportunity to play Chronos in 2016, perhaps I would have though. Before the Ashes is the VR game, reimagined as a regular 3rd person RPG.
With so many souls like or souls-bourne games around nowadays it can be difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. That being said Before the Ashes does an admirable job at doing things just a bit different.
The story is simple; You’re a hero who gets sent into a labyrinth to slay a dragon and save the world, and like any souls like you will most likely die a lot. You can access the labyrinth through giant glowing and rune etched crystals much like the sequel Remnant: From the Ashes. This constant death throughout your journey is tied to the story because each death pushes the in-game time forward 1 year and thus your characters age. This is the main gimmick that as you age you unlock traits, these traits as well as your stats change as you get older where it becomes more difficult to gain strength and agility but easier to gain arcane.
Unlike most souls games this one has multiple difficulty levels that allow you to choose to experience the story unimpeded if you so wish. Leveling is pretty simple overall you gain xp fighting enemies as normal and then attribute points to put into strength, agility, arcane, and vitality. These stats improve your damage with different weapons or improve your blocking or evading. This combined with the choice of traits at certain age milestones allow for a bit of customizing but certainly not as much as some other games of the genre. You are locked into using melee weapons and shields, probably since that was the easiest way to design it from a VR perspective originally.
There are some basic puzzles sprinkled throughout but I found them to be a bit watered down without much difficulty. Combine two items to unlock something else or match symbols to open a portal was about the jist of it.
Controls feel fluid, with attacks having some weight behind them. Most enemies feel a bit like damage sponges with easily telegraphed attacks, however if you do get hit it hurts. Combat will be pretty familiar to those who have played other souls games. Weak and strong attacks thrown into combos between moments of blocking. One small difference is evading or parrying gives a magical buff depending on what you have equipped at the time.
Visuals are okay, not amazing but they gets the job done considering their source. I think the one big highlight would be the lighting which looks great even for 2016 graphics. Audio is also sufficient with decent ambience and sound effects.
Overall Chronos: Before the Ashes is a decent souls-lite which does it’s best to set itself apart. This was probably an amazing VR game but just feels a little basic once you change it to a regular ARPG. Still, far from an awful game if you’re looking to try a more simplified souls experience that will only take you half a dozen hours or so, maybe this game will be for you.