Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 - A Not So Thrilling Killing
PC VR, PS VR2
In fiction I tend to enjoy a bit of a murder mystery. From the exploration of the scene to the gradual unravelling of the case as you witness or participate in the interogation of witnesses or potential culprits, to the often tension-riddled moments where the case comes to ahead and the murderer is identified and brought to justice, the narrative arc of these kinds of stories has always captured my interest. Being a part of that investigation through the lens of VR was an incredibly exciting prospect when Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate arrived in my inbox alongside the launch of PS VR2, but, as it turns out, this anime-inspired mystery cannot quite get out of second gear.
The city of Astrum Close is certainly an interesting one – it has never seen crime before, and as a result, has a pristine, idealistic look and feel about it – one that shattered when the city’s founder is suddenly and mysteriously murdered. Compounding the mystery further is the fact that the discovered body has since gone missing. The world was already on the brink following a meteor crash that devasted almost all life, but it prompted what few of us remained, after resettling, into a virtual world created by the founder, Albert Rumford, that was designed with perpetual happiness being at its core. His sudden death throws an enormous wrench in the mix, that prompts you, Hal Scion, a training Special Supervisor to get on the case to uncover the individual or group responsible for the murder. Unforuntately the story leans incredibly heavily on well worn anime troupes as well as one of science fiction’s most overplayed narrative crutches – time travel, and consequently the plot rapidly descends into mediocrity.
That time travel plot vice serves as one of the more primary gameplay pillars as well, with Hal being capable of going back in time to alter the past, but in doing so encounters others that can see the future, creating a messy and oft-confusing narrative. Beyond this, a lot of Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate’s first episode sees the player passive absorbing plot through repeated, extended dialogue sequences, which are then occasionally broken up by exploration elements as you pick apart an environment, looking for clues using Hal’s bracelets which are capable of both presenting you with a visual history of all who’ve interacted with an object, or provide other, historical details about the object.
Episode 1 simply doesn’t give players enough control through the bulk of these investigation segments, with little reason being given to players to retain information because they won’t need to use it themselves to push the game forward. You will need to engage with the locals through a range of minor mini-games to arrest growing negative emotions, that, if left unattended, can sweep through the city, but these mini-games are also quite poor and really only seem like they’re there to tick an “interactive elements” box.
On the presentation front, Astrum Close has been realised well but lacks a lot to see, the game’s voice-work is sufficient, but does at times drift on the side of irksome at times, with some ham-fisted and at other times emotionless delivery from even key characters like Hal, detracting from the experience even further.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 starts strongly, presenting what should be a thrilling concept, but poor plot delivery, lacklustre, and at times barely existent gameplay, all conspire against the game, to make this first episode and utterly forgettable one.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate was reviewed on a PS VR2 with a code kindly provided by PerpGames