It’s always a good day when a well realised and thought out visual novel game hits the scene. Developer MYDEAREST Inc adds another immersive layer in its latest addition to the Chronos series, but this time in VR.
With the game being an interactive visual novel, it should come as no surprise that the main focal point is the unfolding story that transpires. For that reason, it’s hard to go into massive detail on the narrative and what the characters get up to. However, the basic premise follows a dystopian future, where humanity is now plagued by a strange alien race known as the Meteoras, who have inflicted massive devastation onto the world. Chased to the brink of extinction, humanity was left with no other option but to retreat and take refuge underground. Augmented Tokyo, which has become the stronghold for humanity, is where an anti-Meteora military organisation is stationed to stop the alien invaders.
From here, you assume the role of Lieutenant Chloe, an artificially modified super soldier who is assigned to pilot a gigantic mecha robot against these alien foes. Unfortunately, Chloe isn’t as cool as Captain America. She is a brooding loner who would give Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion a run for his money. Even though she has a reason for her down-look attitude as the memories of her past haunt her. Which, coincidentally, is her motivation for engaging in this war. Throughout the game, Chloe becomes more and more likeable as her motivations become clearer. When Chloe is piloting the robot, she is accompanied by a virtual idol called Noa. This cyber diva sings in combat that might sound annoying on surface value but provides some entertaining moments.
The story itself feels very reminiscent of anime classics like RahXephon and Macross, which primarily centres around robots fighting with musical influences. But there are also many dark psychological apocalyptic themes embedded into the story as well, that the likes of Neon Genesis Evangelion have explored. Even though it takes a lot of inspiration from these powerful tales, the story being told here still feels distinct and different enough to stand out.
A high point of the game is that multiple endings can be achieved by taking different pathways. These different endings can only be obtained by choosing certain characters dialogue’s, action events, and interacting with items at key points. This gave the experience great re-play value. I’ve already finished two outcomes, but I’m still looking forward to uncovering all the different pathways to see if there are still facts just waiting to be unturned.
One of the interactive features which helped make the plot so memorable was the characters you encounter. Admittedly, you only interact with a handful of them throughout the story, but I still found myself enjoying the conversations. There were a lot of opportunities to speak with them in between major plot points and allowed me to delve deeper into their different personas. There was a good mixture of personalities, including a self-proclaimed mad scientist, a hot-headed mecha pilot, and an ego-tripped electronic pop star. Seeing them up-close in VR almost gave a sense of familiarity after interacting with them, which I really grew to like.
When the dialogue between these characters took a momentary break, other game mechanics would try and draw me in. If I had the opportunity to explore the nearby surroundings, I could use the controller to look around the environments and interact with various items. Having the capability of interacting with objects in this way was a key feature that the game would often emphasize. Possessing the ability to reach out and touch items through the VR created a level of absorption that was great to experience. This was particularly striking in the piloting segments, where you would have to hit panels at the right time to activate combat in the mecha robot. This was very eye-catching and dramatic to be a part of.
Another aspect of the interaction mechanic was that it would allow me to analyse items, telling me the smallest detail. At first, I did not mind this as it helped enforce the idea that this world has advanced technology everywhere, but I did wish there were more items or at least more significance behind the items you interacted with. I like pizza just as much as the next guy, but do I really need to analyse a pizza slice? My only other small complaint was that some of the items could be slightly awkward to pick up at times.
An interesting model of gameplay introduced is the opportunity to make choices and judgements in the world with the guidance of a decision support system. When presented with a social dilemma, the libra system would spring up and give me possible options. The libra system is a virtual overlay that would display percentages of positive and negatives associated with that choice. The choice’s that were made would affect the relationships between characters and create different pathways moving forward (where was my real-life libra system, the last time I was presented with a dilemma?).
There was a lot of attention to detail put into the animation, and some of the cut scenes were truly astonishing to watch. The animation married up extremely well with the music being used. Likewise, the sounds that were used were also a crucial part of the experience. It really did try to make the most of the VR, cleverly using different sizes and overlays to its advantage. It provided a different take on the visual novel genre which was very much welcomed. I tried out the game in both English and Japanese audio with English subtitles. Even though by no means is the English portrayal bad, when I return to the game to see all the different endings, I’ll continue my playthroughs in Japanese, as they really jumped out and depicted the vital moments well.
After stepping out of the VR cockpit, how did this quirky interactive visual novel fair? Altdeus: Beyond Chronos does not shy away from the fact that it is a heavily story orientated experience and embraces this aspect with a spellbinding story, interesting characters, and multiple endings with plenty of replay value. This is made even more immersive through the VR’s abilities, adding a whole new level of immersion. This really helped elevate several experiences, from interacting with key items around your surroundings to fighting in a compact robot. If you’re on the hunt for a dark visual novel that stands out from the rest of the crowd, then this is not one to pass upon.
Altdeus: Beyond Chronos PSVR Review
- Overall - Fantastic - 8/108/10
If you’re not a fan of visual novels games, you probably won’t be converted by ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos. However, if you’re looking for the next engrossing visual novel to get your teeth into, this will provide a captivating sci-fi story with a surprising amount of replay value.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4/PSVR. Reviewed using: PS4, PSVR