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Souls of Chronos hands on preview – an indie chibi RPG

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When Souls of Chronos was first announced last week, developer FUTU Studios and publisher Astrolabe Games also shared a demo of the upcoming title. So with a JRPG inspired game with an interesting setting and premise, we gave it a shot. So now the question is if it can stand up on its own?

Despite the initial artwork, Souls of Chronos’ graphical style is mainly chibi. During gameplay, your character and NPC are drawn in a manner resembling Maple Story, though dialogue and cutscenes do show off solid character portraits that look clean and wonderful.

Very quickly as you start the demo, the game shows off some of its core mechanics. The first of which being a dialogue system where your choices will play a role in impacting the story.

This was limited in the demo and there were even times where only one option was available and the rest were grayed out, implying these will be available in the full release.

These choices don’t resort to a simple matter of good or evil, but rather follow 3 separate personality traits. These fit under the traits of logic, strength, and so-called ‘heart’.

Though the demo didn’t go into detail onto what each might lead into, it appears to be following the mind, body, spirit route, which could hint at how the main character is viewed.

Gameplay for Souls of Chronos consists of 2 separate parts so far. There’s the regular exploration sections where you move about from quest marker to quest marker or talk to NPCs, during which you also learn more about the world and characters who inhabit it.

The other part is the combat sections, which is mainly done in an action RPG format. Multiple enemies appear and you fight them in real time with your weapons. It’s rather simple where you’ll be aiming your attacks with the mouse button while pressing space to dodge incoming attacks.

Unfortunately there is no controller support for this game, at least as for the demo. I believe it could flow better with a controller, so hopefully that makes it into the final game.

About halfway through the demo of Souls of Chronos we are joined by Torii, a strange girl known as a Chronus. When she arrives we’re given a new battle mechanic thanks to her powers.

In the demo this new power seems to only stop time and allow her to hit an enemy with a flurry of attacks for massive damage. This could be something rather useful against a boss fight.

Her ability isn’t really special outside of combat in the demo, so hopefully by the time the full game comes out it will have been fleshed out as well. However, while you can’t control her directly, you can command her to do certain actions such as targeting specific foes or retreating to recover her health.

What I feel does have a lot of potential is in the game’s plot. There’s a lot of mystery and intrigue from the early moments of the game that leave more questions than answers, which makes sense as this is a demo to promote the full release for Souls of Chronos.

The idea of a post apocalyptic world that opened up a vacuum for multiple groups to be competing for power is an intriguing narrative.

The character’s personality will hopefully play a role in determining how thing shape up, though your partner’s opinion on it, at least with Torii, likely will have little meaning.

Ultimately a title like this in the JRPG sphere will fit under the category of solid, but not special, indie games – at least from what I’ve seen so far.

There are multiple tropes used with the characters, but they all have their own charm, including the minor ones. With just a little more fleshing out, it will be a compelling choice to play in the saturated JRPG market.

Souls of Chronos is set to launch on consoles and PC (via Steam) with no known release date at this time.

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Got into gaming thanks to a nice old lady who lived across the street. Enjoy most genres of games.