Chronus Arc narrates a startling tale. The world that you wander was once created by the Houra God, as an identical counterpart to another known as the Chronus World. The only difference is that time has been suspended in that world, and the Gates of Time were built to ensure that the two remain separated.
Once every ten years a ceremony referred to as the ‘Time Rewinding’ is held, seeing the two worlds compared and whichever deemed better suspended, stored and replaced by the other. Nearing death, the Houra God smashed the Chronus Energy required to allow the Chronus World to be saved to the present – a dying wish that it would not hinder the current world’s development. However, that desire for peace is soon to be shattered.
Kemco’s RPG is ported to Nintendo 3DS, having initially seen release on iOS and Android back in 2013. With retro appeal by design, players assume the role of Loka – a young boy training to become a grandiose Sorcerer Knight, protectors of the aforementioned Chronus Energy that now lies shattered into Chronus Fragments.
With the Houra Festival celebrations underway, Loka under Teth’s mentorship travels to the nearby Chronus Shrine within which they must collect the Chronus Fragments. This rite of passage will see Loka fulfil his dreams in becoming a Sorcerer Knight, although his excitement soon falls flat when the Geppel interrupts your efforts to steal the fragments. Told to summon reinforcements, you return to discover that Geppel’s forces have disappeared with Teth in tow.
Chronus Arc‘s opening is quick to establish an early indication as to the game’s gameplay structure. Pushing blocks to activate switches, breaking rocks in your path, learning techniques to make your magic more potent and gathering materials that strengthen your equipment with boost manuals, it is a concoction that blends inspiration readily drawn from industry stalwarts such as The Legend of Zelda series and the illustrious RPGs that populated the SNES era.
As with any game that treads into RPG territory, it is in the battle system that most will look for originality. Away from standard attacks, players can call on special skills and magic to best the enemies that cross their paths. It’s standard turn-based RPG fare, showering you with experience and gold when victorious – enabling auto-battle hopefully seeing enemies neutralised for you, whenever desired.
There are five main techniques that you can strengthen Loka with, obscurely named R, Q, T, G and P techniques: R increasing your magic’s potency; Q letting you cast multiple times; T extending duration; G broadening the damage dealt; while P reduces the MP required to cast. Initially, the player can only assign two techniques to Loka, indicative of his early development as a fledgeling Sorcerer Knight. But Teth teases techniques that can be invoked by the spirit, which grants access to forbidden spells.
Progression paves the way for the breadth that genre aficionados have come to crave, but Chronus Arc finds itself stumbling in other areas. The dungeon puzzles lack challenge and feel entirely unnecessary, whereas a fast travel system removes any threat of danger when you find your party at risk – safely transporting them away from an untimely demise. The soundtrack that accompanies your adventure meanders and never thrills, backdropped against some striking character artwork that’s otherwise supported by passable sprites.
Chronus Arc serves well as an accessible, introductory start to the genre, although never builds enough of an identity to let it stand apart from the more well-established competition in the Nintendo 3DS library.