ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Review: Decide Your Future

I’ve always held an appreciation for anime and manga, and have even been able to up my intake steadily over the past few years. However, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with JRPGs this year. I’m even coming around to the turn-based combat that a large majority of those titles feature. However, as hard as I try, I just can’t get into visual novels as much as I would like. It’s not that the narratives aren’t interesting – far from it. I think it primarily just has to do with pacing and the fact that if I wanted to read, I’d probably do so with a paperback book rather than a digital screen.

When I first saw the trailer for ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos, I was intrigued by everything it showed off. From its futuristic setting to the fact that I could be behind the controls of a 400-foot mech, ALTDEUS – a sequel to Tokyo Chronos – seemed like the JRPG that I was missing from my Oculus Quest. I soon came to realize, however, that although there are certainly some action-packed moments, I was actually immersed in a VR visual novel. And you know what? I kind of liked it. Although it stumbles in some areas, ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos nails its VR take on the visual novel genre, providing a well-crafted immersive experience on Oculus Quest.

200 years after powerful aliens called Meteoras forced humanity to seek refuge deep beneath the Earth’s surface, an anti-Meteora military organization called Prometheus defends what little they can using massive battle mechs known as Makhias. Chloe – a Designed Human, which is kind of like an advanced android a la Detroit: Become Human – is the pilot of one of these Makhias, but fights Meteoras with revenge as her motivation. You see, although Designed Humans aren’t inherently configured to have feelings and emotions, Chloe ends up learning human emotions because of Coco – a mysterious girl who taught Chloe how to love before being devoured by a Meteora. Now, Chloe fights only to avenge her fallen friend.

The futuristic story isn’t necessarily one that we haven’t heard before, but what holds my interest in the conversations are the decisions that I’m forced to make, decisions that ultimately impact the final outcome of the game. I can say I wasn’t taken by the conversations that were taking place as a whole – mostly as a result of the English voice acting (before I switched to the Japanese audio) – but the path you weave en route to your final destination is a fun one to watch unfold, especially with some of the weird turns that the story takes.

That said, I’ll admit to not being at all happy with the ending from my first playthrough. It was almost enough to make me not want to play again, but knowing that other, likely more satisfying endings were possible, I had to give it another go. I’m glad I did, because I was able to see a more complex and interesting Chloe than the absolute buzzkill that I experienced during my first playthrough. I also uncovered other characters along with a far more satisfying ending that stuck with me after the credits rolled.

Of course, one of the major draws of this particular visual novel is the VR element. ALTDEUS pretty much hits on all angles with its VR immersion. Although most of the various environments are pretty bland, it does still feel like I’m actually standing in whatever room I’m in. Some of the cinematics and close-up interactions are also incredibly effective, and even surprisingly uncomfortable in some cases. On a related note, as the playable character, the parts of Chloe’s avatar that can be seen are her hands and her breasts. That’s it. No lower torso or legs that can be seen. I understand that this sort of design comes with the territory of the genre, but it still seems unnecessary.

Another slight letdown with ALTDEUS’ VR immersion was the way you pick up objects. Unlike games like Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale where picking up objects feels like you’re actually picking it up, in ALTDEUS, when you go to grab an object, it disappears pixel by pixel before then appearing in your hand. This likely has to do with the augmented reality of the world itself, but being able to at least grab objects in real-time would have gone a long way in making the game feel that much more immersive.

Controlling the Makhia during the combat is better in this regard, especially with the massive rail gun used to take out Meteoras. Again, the environment of the Makhia’s cockpit is unimpressive (basically a reskin of the Oculus default home screen), but pushing buttons and holding the rail gun feels the way it should in VR.

ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos caters to a very specific audience – an audience that enjoys visual novels first and foremost, but who also has an appreciation for VR. If, like mine, your first playthrough isn’t up to par with your expectations, it’s highly recommended that you give the game another playthrough or two, making different decisions along the way. It’ll be worth it to take in the full narrative of what ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos has to offer.

An Oculus Quest copy of ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos was provided to TheGamer for this review. ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos is available now for Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift.

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Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.

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