Tokyo Chronos was a good attempt to bring visual novels into virtual reality last year, presenting an entertaining story but minimal VR use. Now developers MyDearest have brought us a sequel, promising greater interactivity within a similar gameplay premise. Read on for our full ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos review.
You don’t need to play Tokyo Chronos to understand ALTDEUS’ plot. Whilst that entry took place in modern-day Shibuya and focused on a group of high school students, this sequel takes us 300 years into the future instead. Earth’s surface has been decimated by the mysterious Meteoras, causing humanity to flee underground to A.T. City, a place filled with holographic illusions to escape their dreaded reality. It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to describe this dystopia as Cyberpunk but it’s not far off either.
You play as Chloe, a “Designed Human” augmented to the peak of her abilities. Working for a military organization called Prometheus, you pilot a mech named the Alto Makhia, and it comes down to you to protect A.T. City whenever Meteoras come close.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=””]ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Review – The Facts
What is it?: A VR visual novel adventure with branching paths
Platforms: Quest, Quest 2, and Oculus Rift platform
Haunted by the memories of Coco, a blind girl she was once sworn to protect, the two became close friends but soon after, Coco is devoured by a Meteora, leaving Chloe felling guilt with a vengeance. Unable to move on, matters are made worse by Noa, a virtual idol designed to look like Coco, one that also assists her in the Makhia.
You’ll be joined by several characters, each playing a key role and there are no minor characters here. Your immediate colleagues include Yamato, a fellow Makhia pilot with an impulsive nature and Aoba, a cooler head who takes charge of communications during missions. All of them are led by the stern General Deiter, who carries out mission planning, and there’s also the eccentric Professor Julie, head of research at Prometheus that created Chloe and Noa. Most curiously, rounding off this cast is Anima, a mysterious Meteora that’s taken human form.
Your decisions surrounding battles and each character affect how your playthrough unfolds. All communications are officially monitored by the Libra system, which suggests multiple dialogue choices when prompted. Some are less consequential and just affect people’s perception of Chloe, such as choosing whether to compliment Yamato’s swordplay or ignore his boasts. Others have a more meaningful impact that directly determine the following events, like choosing to scan a Meteora mid-battle instead of attacking it.
You’ll never get to ALTDEUS’s true ending within the first playthrough, this game is designed for replayability and multiple endings are present. Bringing a campaign that’ll keep you busy for twice as long as Tokyo Chronos, specific routes need completing before additional options appear in those original scenes. You won’t have to replay it in full either, as events can be jumped between within the Ariadne, a space bound area which lets you go back to particular story segments once unlocked.
Without spoiling the larger mysteries, I found myself thoroughly drawn into this mysterious world across these multiple playthroughs. Despite bringing the usual anime cliches like everyone having different hair colour, it kept me intrigued about the wider world too, tapping into social commentary about the surveillance state. ALTDEUS also plays into Greek mythology quite significantly and whilst both games are named after the god of time, it makes frequent references to other legends too. Between Chloe telling Coco stories about Apollo and Daphne, Noa praying to Artemis’ before battle or the A.T. City rebel group called “Organisation Patroclus”, this proved a nice touch.
Compared to its predecessor, ALTDEUS makes several improvements to gameplay while retaining a vibrant art style. A lot of this revolves around mech combat and although these scenes are scripted, you can interact with various UI elements, like booting up the Makhia or lining up your rail cannon shots. Much of the VR functionality though is just looking around a 360° environment or pressing buttons to scan/interact with objects, so it is disappointing when compared to other experiences, but does just enough to justify its own existence.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=””]ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Review – Comfort
Altdeus has minimal VR interaction, so you can play this sitting down and there’s no locomotion to consider. You’ll interact with the environment by scanning objects, piloting your mech, or choosing dialogue options; that’s basically it though. You just watch events unfold at other points in the story and click through text. Subtitles move with your head tracking, which can make it unsettling to focus on, but these can be turned off if it gets irritating.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
One of the biggest gripes with Tokyo Chronos was the Japanese-only voice acting. Undoubtedly this would please the “subs over dubs” crowd but in VR, that doesn’t work nearly as well when compared to watching anime on a flat screen. So, it was quite pleasing to see that MyDearest have included English voice acting this time around and even though performances felt uneven in places, it works for the most part. Chloe’s VO felt flat at times but honestly, this leans into her character quite well. After all, we have a soldier who was designed to fight, not to feel, and it took a blind friend to change her perspective.
ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Review – Final Verdict
MyDearest have done a great job on ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos, proving that visual novels can work in virtual reality and it’s clear they took onboard feedback from Tokyo Chronos. Having added new language options and some much-needed immersion to the core gameplay, I found myself completely immersed in ALTDEUS’ story overall. Despite interactivity remaining minimal compared to other VR games, this one comes highly recommended for visual novel fans.
For more on how we arrive at our scores, check out our review guidelines.
This review is based off of the Oculus Quest 2 version of ALTDEUS using a review copy provided by the publisher and PR. ALTDEUS is also available for Quest 1 and on the Oculus Rift store for PC VR at a price point of $39.99 on all platforms. For more information you can visit the game’s official website.