Review – Dyschronia Chronos Alternate Episode 1 (PSVR2)
When I picture myself playing a VR game, I see myself standing, making awkward movements, and getting tired in the end. I didn’t imagine the possibility of fun to be had sitting, reading/listening to dialogue, to a point where it’s nearly a visual novel, especially in a VR setting.
Welcome to just that; immerse yourself in the totally fictional looking anime world of Dyschronia Chronos Alternate Episode 1, an episodic, sci-fi detective VR game.
My Dearest Inc’s VR sci-fi murder mystery shows newly promoted Hal Scion attempt to solve who murdered the founder of this futuristic city of Astrum Close. The game introduces you to the setting through an apocalyptic, bleak future which then brings you back to play the events that leads to it. You learn about the world where everyone’s dreams are regulated and monitored using AD, Augmented Dreaming, which ensures the resident’s mental health which in turn makes for a peaceful, crimeless city. Everything turns awry when the founder is reported dead, with his body missing.
I need all anime credits to now be in VR
We play as Hal Scion (horrible name, I know), a Variant, humans with special abilities and are often discriminated against, with the ability to see the past of people by touching items. He was recently promoted to Supervisor, and was given the task of solving this murder as his first assignment along with his partner Ash, and personal assistant assigned to him, Lily. While attempting to gain clues regarding the murder and location of the body, we encounter a lady, who then later shoots and kills us.
Here we learn more of Hal Scion’s abilities (as well as gameplay elements) such as the ability to not only see the past, but also to go back to key moments in time, in an attempt to change his future. He will need to learn all he can and figure out why the city will be destroyed in seven days and what can he do to stop it.
The way all these abilities play into the gameplay is well implemented, though I feel that it’s under utilized. Most of the game has you going from point A to point B, talking to people, and solving their problems through simple minigames along the way. When you are not talking to people, you are using your abilities as a Variant to investigate the murder. You have your right hand to identify objects, wrist to do a room-wide search, and your left hand that allows you to see the past by holding certain objects.
Holding that item transports you to the past that it relates to and allows you to view its events. During some events, you also have the opportunity to affect certain decisions that changes the future. This can lead to access you didn’t have before, such as changing the access of the professor’s computer to “everyone” so you can go through it in the present. This was presented very early in the game, however, it is very under-utilized. It felt like it was put there to give you a sense of variety on how to tackle an investigation, where in reality it’s very linear. You also use this ability of Past Manipulation on order to solve simple puzzles. Overall, the investigation process is linear as the game doesn’t allow you to miss clues. The game won’t progress unless you’ve got them all.
Another gameplay element that I wish it had, is if you make a wrong decision, you die and forced to replay your day a certain way. However, this is all vanity, and your ability to replay a day when you die is by design. Again, this is a huge miss and it would’ve really made this game more interactive with more replay value.
Graphically, Dyschronia is easy to describe: a crisp, clean, anime game in a virtual reality setting. At first, even though I watch anime, this was not a selling point for me, because I typically dislike anime games. However, after having seen this, I can definitely say that anime looks good in virtual reality. With its vibrant colours and the possibilities in fictional representation, I can’t wait to see more of it in the future. The game has two main settings, one in AD (Augmented Dreaming) that looks amazing, and another in reality which looks a bit more bland. In AD, where humans are represented as sea creatures floating about the world in a variety of vibrant colours adds a wonderful surreal atmosphere in the game. However, when you’re not in AD, the locations are way more bland, completely empty, no NPCs, apart from tiny security robots, with hallways that look uninteresting. Knowing the setting of the game, this makes sense, but it still feels barren in contrast to Augmented Dreaming.
Prepare your Ears.
Another aspect where I feel they dropped the ball is voice acting and subtitles. The game sounds great with original Japanese acting, as it should, which makes me reliant on reading subtitles. I have no problems with doing this as I do watch anime often. However, subtitles often either land right on the NPC’s face that you’re talking to, or it sinks into a wall, floor, or some random item making it illegible. Unfortunately, the only way to read it is if you look away from the person you’re talking to. This means I turned off subtitles and played most of the game with English voice acting and I suffered because of this. Your constant companion, the one who you interact with the most, Lily, is the most annoying sounding character I have ever heard. It isn’t just her that is bad, everyone else falls under the same category, with some of the VA sounding out of place with odd pauses because of them trying to match it as closely to the mouth movements as possible.
Amidst some of my suffering, I did enjoy the story and the game. The game has nice VR interaction, with good motion sickness/accessibility options (minus the subtitles). It’s a game that is played while seated, with very minimal movements required. It is heavy in dialogue since it is a sci-fi detective game which may not be for everyone. If that is something that interests you, Dyschronia Chronos Alternate Episode 1 is a game I would recommend, especially if you can understand Japanese, unfortunately, I am neither. Since this was created with English speaking audience in mind, the cons may be enough to deter overall enjoyment unless they patch the subtitles situation.
Colourful Anime aesthetics.
Interesting concepts not fully realized.
My ears hurts from English VA.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Rub heads and Solve Mysteries.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Dyschronia Chronos Alternate Episode 1 is available now on Meta Quest 2, PSVR2, Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PSVR2.
A copy of Dyschronia Episode 1 was provided by the publisher.