Prolific mobile JRPG developers Kemco have ported one their games to the 3DS. Kemco are known for producing old school JRPGs that are never actually very good and unfortunately Chronus Arc is no different.
Let’s start with the writing. Any good JRPG worth its salt needs to have an interesting narrative to help drive the player through the game and Chronus Arc just doesn’t cut it. Admittedly Chronus Arc isn’t a big release and it cannot be compared in scope and grandeur with the likes of Bravely Default or Fire Emblem. However the script is so poor that the game just feels like one pointless battle after another.
The games writing fluctuates from dull, to typo ridden, to down right confusing. The localization of the game often means that sentences don’t really make grammatical or contextual sense. There are at times elements of the narrative that are interesting, but these are never ever explored beyond a mere sentence. Anything that might flesh out the world or dare to make the characters interesting is simply ignored.
The battle system in Chronus Arc is your bog standard turn-based affair with 3 heroes versus up to 5 opponents. And I realise that Chronus Arc is going for the retro RPG feel, but it hasn’t done anything interesting or different to stop itself being derivative trash. The enemy’s strength increases very quickly forcing you to grind in large amounts constantly. This might not be a big deal if the battles were actually any fun, but they are not. Turn order is inexplicably not tied to agility and is seemingly random. The battles quickly became a tedious slog that I genuinely hated.
Added to my loathing of battles are how character classes need to be changed. Chronus Arc includes various classes you can switch any your heroes to which all very nice, but to do so you need a specific currency called Mana to actually perform the change. And how do you get Mana? Oh, you need to grind horrible amounts in order obtain some. Great. Chronus Arc has managed to extract all the worst elements of the JRPG genre and take away everything that gives them any soul.
Chronus Arc attempts at puzzles are of the oh-so-boring block-moving variety. The challenge comes in not falling asleep before finishing them or being killed by the frustratingly frequent battles. Fortunately however, Chonus Arc does have the foresight to auto-save after each battle. This is only good because of the high amounts of grinding necessary to complete the game and did the game not come with so many faults it wouldn’t need an auto-save feature.
The actual presentation of the game is a shambles as well. Moving around the screen the character is basically floating like floating around the level. Again, I know this is a budget indie game, but all they needed to do was add in some extra walking frames. The battle animations are lackluster at best and the soundtrack is bearable. Enemies are pallet swapped throughout the game with very few ‘original’ looking opponents, but the pixel art is nice enough.
It could be said that Chronus Arc successfully emulates and resembles a Super Nintendo JRPG in the same way that a plastic flower resembles the real thing. It is just a cheap imitation that genuinely has no redeeming features.
Chronus Arc is an awful game. It is a grind from start to finish. The story either doesn’t make sense or is boring. The retro graphics are just lazy. It isn’t engaging and you would probably have a more enriching experience watching paint dry or the washing machine go round.
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