Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate is not one of those titles. Dyschronia plays it safe and offers a visual novel experience in virtual reality with not much gameplay but plenty in terms of its story.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 Review (PSVR2) – A VR Visual Novel With Strong Storytelling And Not Much Else
A Strong Story That Suffers From Lack Of Real Worldbuilding
Dyschronia tells the story of Hal, who lives as a special supervisor and essentially a psychiatrist living in one of the last remaining underground cities in a world devastated by a meteor.
With the world nearly destroyed, scientist Albert Rumfort creates a virtual world where everyone’s mind is connected, and this connection helps build a world that everyone can live in through sleeping pods that they live in.
This virtual world is monitored by Special Supervisors that keep the world calm and make sure nobody is feeling any negative feelings because these feelings begin to connect and spread to everyone else in the virtual world.
Falls Into You’re Typical Anime Tropes
While training to become a Special Supervisor, it’s revealed that Albert Rumfort is found murdered in his chambers, and you’re tasked with finding out who committed the crime and why.
What I thought would be your standard murder mystery set in a dystopian sci-fi setting ended up being something a lot more.
Unfortunately, the game falls into the typical anime and time travel tropes. Hal discovers he can go back in time and alter how events play out and encounters people who can see the future and various other abilities.
I would have preferred a straight murder mystery, but it doesn’t dilute the story and where it heads. I enjoyed the story in episode one, and it reminded me of the great visual novel “Steins Gate“, which Dyschronia took a lot of inspiration from.
Solving A Murder Feels Much To Automated
Although most of the game involves you watching and listening to dialogue play out. There are times, though, when you must examine a scene by pickup up objects and getting information from them using Hal’s bracelets.
Hal’s right-handed bracelet allows him to gain historical information about an object. In contrast, his left bracelet will enable him to go into a visual memory of anyone who touches an object.
This allows Hal to go into memories of people he’s investigating to see past events play out.
He learns later that he can interact with these events and alter the timeline through people’s old memories. It’s also used to solve some puzzles like learning a passcode to a computer or to find hidden objects in a room.
Seeing Scenes Playing Out From Someone Else’s Point Of View Is Unique
I wish these events were more than simple videos playing, especially regarding puzzles, as Hal will set events into motion to solve the puzzle himself.
It would have been nice to remember events for myself, like a passcode or write the solution down on some virtual notepad.
But it’s simply another scene that plays out for you to watch. You only need to remember what item to use or where to find an item during a past scene.
Moving Between The Real World And Virtual World
Hal can travel between the real and virtual worlds with a button tap. The real world is lonely, and you see almost no other people walking around or doing anything.
On the other hand, the virtual one features great visuals of fish swimming in the skies and vibrant lights all around you.
The people appear as silhouettes, and you can go up and talk to them to gain more information on the world and how people are feeling.
One of your jobs as a Special Supervisor is to make sure the collective of the virtual world is happy. When you see someone going through mental stress and anguish, their silhouettes appear in red.
Playing Psychiatrist Through A Simple Mini-Game
When interacting with them, you need to calm them down before their negative feelings spread to other people.
You then go into a mini-game where you have to touch hexagons in the correct order as an orb floats to them.
It’s a pointless mini-game that adds nothing to the overall experience and feels like something added to the game to provide some gameplay content.
The one benefit it provides is unlocking the backstory of Dyschronia. The game offers almost no information or backstory to its world through its story, so this is the only way to learn how the virtual world works and what’s happened to drive society to live like this.
Bland Voice Work And Soundtrack Isn’t Enough To Deter The Great Character Models In VR
Visually the anime style works, and the main cast’s character models look nice. Still, the environments are bland, with almost nothing to look at or interact with outside the objects and locations the game wants you to interact with.
Voice work is decent and gets the job done, but I also felt like some characters, especially Hal, sounded robotic and unemotional to the things happening around them.
Music is also somewhat bland, with the same tunes playing throughout the game. Though the game’s anime opening is fantastic, the VR added a lot to its flashy style.
A Good Start To What Could Become The Norm For Visual Novels
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 is a decent start to a murder mystery I want to finish to discover what’s happening in this world.
Dyschronia may be about the death of Albert Rumford, but it has many other stories playing out that connect to his death and perhaps the end of all humanity.
It’s a shame that so much of Dyschronia is automated and leaves very little to do on your own besides walking and picking up objects just to read about their history.
With that said, Dyschronia is an excellent example of a visual novel in a VR world that may set up an entirely new way to present the genre in future.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 is now available on PlayStation VR2 and PS5.
Review code kindly provided by PR.