Format – PC
My first impression of Chronology is that it is a beautiful game with an art style reminiscent of Jonathan Blow’s seminal indie puzzler Braid. You play the Inventor who awakes to find the world has been destroyed by a catastrophe caused by a combination of science and alchemy. Alone in the desolate world, you must find the cause of the disaster and stop it by using nothing but your time traveling watch and a magic snail. So, similar art and mechanics to Braid and story to Bastion; those are two of the finest indie games of recent time, not bad company to be keeping. But does Chronology live up to these lofty comparisons?
I told you it was pretty…
Unfortunately the answer is not quite. Osao Games have managed to make a good game that just falls short of being great. The art style is beautiful; airy and colorful before the disaster and more muted and sombre afterwards. Chapters are separated by some gorgeous comic bookish panels that fill in the back story. The soundtrack matches the story and the art style’s perfectly sombre and lilting tones add to the mood but don’t ever become too repetitive to be annoying.
Monk and inventor, alchemy and science; that’ll never work…
The interaction between the characters is ably voice-acted; with the pompous inventor and childish snail contrasting well; although the snail voice was like nails down a blackboard to me. There is some fun banter there too, with the Inventor often harrumphing “Shut up Snail!” after repeated questions or an innocent remark.
The mechanics of the game work too, the Inventor can use his watch to go into the past just before the event and back again. Need a leg up? Plant a tree in the past and it will have grown in the future, it reminded me a little of Day of the Tentacle and that is never a bad thing. The Inventor’s snail companion can pause time to enable the Inventor to dodge the crafty Rube Goldbergish traps that for some reason litter the past.
The problem is, when the game just seems to be hitting its stride, it is all over. I saw the game off in under 2 hours and I think now I know all of the puzzles I could do it in half that time. It’s a real shame especially as the story is a little linear and obvious. Add a few twists and turns and some more puzzles and this really could have been a fulfilling adventure.
There’s a cool steampunkish look to the technology in Chronology, oh and a balloon bike!
I didn’t encounter any game breaking bugs when I played, although I did have to start a chapter again after dropping an item on the snail and being unable to pick it back up again. This was only a mild irritation, however, as the chapters are quite short.
Overall Chronology is a charming game with nice ideas that never quite lives up to its potential. Hopefully the game will sell and they can ping out some DLC because it would be a real shame to not visit the land of the Inventor once again.
Technical Competency – 7/10
Graphic Quality – 9/10
Sound Quality – 8/10
Network Stability – NA