ALYDEUS: Beyond Chronos comes to PlayStation VR, and its evolving narrative and strong production values make it a high-quality virtual reality visual novel.
The “virtual reality visual novel” is an almost cumbersome description, but the PS VR remake of ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos clearly wants to defend this very specific genre. With deceptive depth, a high level of polish, and an impressive high-concept dive, this powerful port makes a strong argument for the stories told in this way. There are more complicated or experimental visual novels and others that are faster to get the player’s attention, but ALTDEUS‘Mixing high-concept storytelling with familiar anime tropes in a virtual reality wrapper hits the landing.
While this review does not take into account the previous title Tokyo Chronos (also available on PS VR), doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite ALTDEUS‘ story. Headphone wearers become Chloe, a synthetically developed human designed and trained to pilot the High Makhia, a massive robot built to take on devastating monsters known as Meteora. Meteora’s path of destruction has driven humanity underground, now adapted into a gigantic bunker community covered in hologram-like glamor meant to convince citizens to spend their days on the city’s thriving streets, indistinguishable from ours.
Before the screenshots confuse anyone, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos It is certainly not an action game. Contains some high-octane mechanical battle centers; Interestingly, the fixed view from the Makhia’s cockpit serves to make the battles intriguingly abstract and distant, but directly dependent on a few simple QTE-like movements using the Motion Controllers. The fights feel big though, as do some of the wild dreams Chloe has been having, threading memories of her young deceased ward, Coco, a vital piece of the emerging narrative puzzle.
The narrative features many puzzling ingredients, such as Chloe’s Vocaloid-like AARC co-pilot Noa, but many of them are churning on the first play. In a way that is slightly reminiscent of Deny games, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos it’s an experience that needs to be restarted multiple times to make sense. It’s a considerable question, with a careful first game taking about four hours. During that time, whether players understand it or not, they are being carefully fed with mysteries and redirects, character details, and huge swaths of world-building and lore. It has a purpose, and the game is generously concerned with solving most of the points of confusion, but there is a degree of investment to get there that is decisive.
These are two important game mechanics: Libra and Ariadne. The former is a term to describe a kind of eye implant worn by everyone in this underground Tokyo (including the player) that details an individual’s choices during a conversation or activity. Yes, it works very similar to any visible dialog option in a video game, but the idea that the headphone user is not just looking at the user interface of a game, but participating in ALTDEUS‘active world is immersive successfully. Ariadne, on the other hand, is a system that maps potential altered narrative based on the options available from a second game onwards, a beautiful kind of star map whose true purpose is essentially a spoiler on itself.
Aspects that do break ALTDEUS: Beyond ChronosThe immersion includes the rather rudimentary search for items in the game’s closed room sequences. There’s no free movement, which would seem like a missed opportunity if any of the settings were interesting in their own right, but they’re mostly simplistic rooms or cavernously empty sci-fi hangars. When the characters must move, the view darkens and is replaced with the sound of footsteps, then reappears with Chloe in a different location. Equally boring is the use of static transitions for the characters as they speak and gesture, although that’s somewhat dated even for the best visual novels. Strangely, some characters will occasionally animate beyond just moving their mouths and blinking, but the models are mostly static at all times.
Aside from the empty feeling environments, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos‘the images are excellent. Many character designs and qualities point to some of anime’s greats, but their personalities eventually turn into more than just tributes. Voice acting is on the higher end of the spectrum, with only a few characters sounding more sleepy, and Chloe’s surly and choppy speech eventually turns into an acquired taste. Additionally, the game features a phenomenal soundtrack with catchy harmonies and heartwarming themes – the introduction of the “royal” title is a triumph.
Counting too much of ALTDEUS: Beyond ChronosThe story would compromise what he is really trying to do, but this does not imply that it relies on some kind of mandatory twist from Shyamalan. No, like the best visual novels, she stays focused on her character’s growth and reveals her secrets and motives over time. For someone with a slight taste for anime who doesn’t normally like visual novels, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos it should make them believers.
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ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Releases April 14 for PlayStation VR. A PS VR digital code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.
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