Game Review #095: Chronus Arc (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Allan J.
Developer: Hit-Point Co., Ltd.
Release Date: 12.20.2018
Price (at time of review): $12.99
Buy Chronus Arc from the Nintendo eShop here.
The Power to Unify Time
Every 10 years, the chronus fragments are gathered together for the ceremony of “Time Rewinding”, in which parts of the current world are overwritten by their counterparts from the past. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well, someone with seemingly less-than-honorable intentions has stolen one of the fragments and is determined to collect them all. Chronus Arc takes you on a journey to reclaim these fragments from this mysterious man and stop whatever sinister plans he may have in store for them. Playing the role of Loka, a young Sorcerer Knight in training, you set out on a quest with your childhood friend, Princess Sarna, to do just that.
Random Encounters of the JRPG Kind
Let me just start out by saying that I love RPGs—JRPGs in particular— and they are my favorite of all video game genres. My all-time favorite game EVER, across all consoles and genres, is Chrono Trigger. I love that game so much, for so many reasons, one of the main reasons being the battle system. I love the Chrono Trigger battle system because, rather than featuring random encounters when you are crawling through the various dungeons—as is the norm with most JRPGs—your enemies are planted in clear sight throughout, and you can choose (in most cases) whether you want to engage in a battle or not. To me, this is a wonderful feature that allows for more unencumbered exploration of all of the nooks, crannies, and hidden treasures of the dungeons, without having to stop every five steps for a random encounter and then forgetting what you were doing by the time you’re finished with the battle.
Chronus Arc employs a similar battle system, at least with regard to dungeons. Unlike Chrono Trigger, where there are simply no battles outside of dungeons, random or otherwise, Chronus Arc does still have random encounters when traveling between dungeons and towns on the world map. This is actually not a bad feature to have though, as it allows for some EXP farming when trying to level up your characters—a very necessary task in this game if you don’t wish to be slaughtered as soon as you enter a dungeon! You also have the ability to teleport to any place you have already been on the world map, so if you really want to avoid all random encounters, you can easily do so. There is also an add-on you can purchase as DLC that allows you to turn off all random encounters, along with several other nifty add-ons, which I will touch on as well.
Stick To What Works
Regarding the general mechanics and gameplay of Chronus Arc, there is no reinventing of the wheel going on here, save for a couple of tweaks to the classic JRPG formula we all know and love. Chronus Arc takes all of the best features from JPRGs of the last few decades and puts them all together to form some certifiable JRPG comfort food.
You have your basic weapons, armor, and accessories that can be purchased and equipped to your allies, and as you gain more experience, you master new special skills and magical abilities to use in battle. After you complete a battle, you are rewarded with experience points and gold, with the random item or two dropped by enemies here and there.
You can also upgrade your existing weapons and armor by using resources that you gain through dropped items in battle and by mining dungeons. In addition, Kurius, one of the NPCs, appears in almost every town and dungeon and supplies you with boost manuals, which can be used to forge new weapons, armor, and accessories at the blacksmiths’ shops throughout the world.
As you progress through the dungeons, which are heavily focused on puzzle-solving—mostly pushing blocks onto switches in a specific order of operations—you will also obtain new techniques, which can be equipped to individual characters. These techniques give you the ability to modify certain aspects of your magical abilities, such as making your magic spells target all enemies rather than a single enemy or increasing the number of times the magic spells are cast per turn. With some proper strategizing, combining some of these techniques can give your character quite the edge in battle.
One of the unique features of Chronus Arc is its class-changing system. In other JRPGs, such as Final Fantasy V, you can change the class/job of your characters at will, which changes some of your stats around and gives you different battle commands to use, but in Chronus Arc, it is a bit different. Instead of simply modifying the skills and stats of your character, you start back at level 1, but still keep some of your previous stats.
While starting back at level 1 kind of sucks, the good news is that you’ll be back to your previous level in short order. You have to be at least level 30 before you can change classes, and by that point in the game, the enemies you battle drop so much experience that you will likely be back to level 10+ by the end of the first battle; and if you purchased the add-on DLC for double experience points, or if you have the 2x experience ring equipped to that character—or a combination of both—you’ll likely be around level 30 again within 2 or 3 battles.
The level 1 you start out as when you first change classes is still way more powerful than the level 1 you started out with at the beginning of the game, which also means that the level 30 you will re-obtain will be much more powerful than the level 30 you were before the class change. You can continue to repeat this process again and again with all the different classes, provided you have the required “Book of Discipline” or “Book of Attainment” needed to facilitate the class change. These can be obtained through treasure chests, or you can convert defeated enemies into mana points, which can be used to purchase the books, along with other items like spirit rings and power rings, which increase your characters’ stats when equipped.
Visually, this game is another of the ever-growing library of modern retro-style games being released over the past years. The graphics—aside from the menu screens and the character artwork for dialogue screens, which are beautifully drawn and in a modern-style—are a throwback to the golden age of RPGs, the age of the SNES! I love the style of 16-bit graphics. Just enough to make it pretty without using graphics as a means of hiding poor quality of gameplay. One thing I noticed—and this could be taken as an even more accurate representation of the 16-bit era—is that the graphics looked great while playing in handheld mode, but got very pixelated on the modern screen in docked mode. It looked like the image you get when you plug a Super Nintendo directly into an HDTV and the image is upscaled. It’s nothing game-ending, but I thought it was worth noting. I spend the majority of my Switch gameplay time in handheld mode anyway, so it hardly even affected me.
The audio is also a throwback to the 16-bit era, and the songs are bright, cheery, and generally decent. The battle theme got a bit repetitive after a while, but I got used to it. Nothing over-the-top amazing with the soundtrack, but it got the job done.
I started this game with high hopes, and I was not disappointed. The story was a bit shorter than I would have hoped, but it was still a great story nonetheless. I liked this game so much that I actually broke down and purchased some DLC to enhance my experience further. This is a big deal for me, since I have actually never purchased any DLC for any game to date, unless it was an expansion pack with new quests. I am honestly not sure how much more grinding I would have had to endure with Chronus Arc had I not purchased the double experience and double damage add-ons, and I shudder to think of what it would have been like in the second half of the game if I didn’t get the full restore add-on, which restores your HP, MP, and status ailments after each battle. The good news is that these add-ons are cheap as well as totally worth it—even if it did feel a bit like cheating… If you like JPRGs, chances are, you will like Chronus Arc. I would absolutely recommend this game!
Buy Chronus Arc from the Nintendo eShop here.
Follow Hit-Point Co., Ltd.
*Review Code Provided By KEMCO