There’s been a murder in paradise. Here crime isn’t just low, but it shouldn’t even be possible. Protected from the dangerous outside world, this is a futuristic city where every resident is connected to a collective dream and everything is monitored. How did it happen? And is everything really as pleasant as it seems? These are just some of the questions that you’ll have to investigate in Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1.
Using the Meta Quest 2, we step into the shoes of Hal Scion, an investigator with the power to view the past and more. Experiencing what must be the worst first day on the job imaginable, the professor who helped to create the city is murdered and he is assigned the job to find out who did it and present evidence at the trial. Even if he’s new, the A.I. that runs the city only cares about results and believes that Hal’s abilities will bring them.
Luckily Hal isn’t alone. While somewhat irresponsible and often pursuing different leads, the slightly more experienced Ash Shepard gives him a hand. More consistently helpful is the ever cute navigation robot Lily. Outside of asking for head pats, she provides reminders of what is needed next and other hints.
The challenge ahead is certainly not an easy one though. The few hints available point in a certain direction and it seems that the truth isn’t important to the higher-ups here; only closing the case. Your mission in Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate is to find the truth before time runs out.
Not Quite Paradise
While dystopia might be a strong word, Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate certainly has hints of it underneath the surface. We quickly come across topics such as discrimination against those with special abilities, human experimentation, harsh controls over the residents, and intrusive surveillance. Peeling away the layers to reveal more and more makes for a really absorbing experience. It felt like as I got deeper and deeper into the secrets, the more questions I had. I really enjoyed how it did this.
While the city has its issues, more of an imminent issue is the hints throughout that a huge disaster is incoming within the week. It’s not the focus of Episode 1 which takes place over three days, but it’s set up nicely for us to presumably explore in the upcoming Episodes 2 and 3.
On that topic, Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 sets up several investigatory threads. Not everything is resolved and I did have some issues with how easily some of the answers came to us at the end of the main thread, but I felt it worked well. The focus was on the murder case, but it used this to bring up other characters with unknown motives, hints at our past which is only partly unveiled, and more.
Why Can’t We Die?
Hal’s abilities are explained as viewing the past, but we soon learn that it’s more than that. The most often used power is psychometry; the ability to see an item’s history by watching certain scenes of the past. We also use the ability to control someone’s actions through this to alter the present, though it felt very underused, only appearing a couple of times.
Even more helpful is that we wake up the day before if killed. Even without being killed, Hal can jump back and forth within a time period to make different decisions and explore different branches.
The way this works in Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 is that we jump to a mysterious room. From here, we can see different scenes and where choices may have branched off. Whether running into the wrong person with a gun or just needing to be in two places at the same time to get the information, jumping between branches but having information persist certainly kept the investigation going. My initial concern with this was that time-looping may have caused repetitiveness, but luckily it skips a lot of the more tedious parts the second time through.
Questions around this remain unresolved and I look forward to finding out more in future episodes. One issue I did have but which never came up was why Hal has so little reaction to his own deaths.
Puzzles, Counseling, and Sneaking
Most of our time in Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 is spent walking around the small city, talking to characters, and interacting with items to find clues. It includes some light puzzle and stealth elements too.
Puzzles tended to be spinning things around until they were in the correct pattern, finding clues about which keycard slot to place an item in and things along those lines. Sometimes hints were found by exploring the past and sometimes by moving around things in the present.
I’m terrible at puzzle games and I barely had to think about the puzzles. It was a nice break from the regular gameplay when it appeared and it worked well as part of the story in one case but otherwise didn’t stand out. I did have to laugh when I spent quite a while solving a chain of intricate puzzles to open a door and in another timeline, someone just came along and blasted a hole in the wall.
Counseling is part of our official job as a supervisor too. After all, in a city with no real crime, we have to do something else. Some residents need help restoring their mental balance so as not to affect the collective. We do this and sometimes reveal some background information by completing a short pattern memorization puzzle. Again, I found it mostly worked as a simple break between other types of gameplay more than anything else.
Sneaking very rarely appeared, but worked nicely enough. It just involved crouching, staying out of sight, and occasionally throwing nearby items to distract enemies. I had fun doing this, but wish it would appear more often.
Before this game, MyDearest released Tokyo Chronos and Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Neither are directly connected. The major benefit that virtual reality brought to both was the immersion factor. Being an adventure game rather than a visual novel this time, Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate implements virtual reality much better in comparison.
Immersion is still a huge factor here. From the opening movie that wowed me to exploring the world, it helped to keep me immersed in the story. With all of the investigating and those puzzle and sneaking sections, it was much better than the other titles in terms of using one of virtual reality’s other major benefits – to interact with the world in a more natural way. Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate is later coming out on Nintendo Switch, but I imagine the virtual reality version will be my preferred version by far.
The normal selection of comfort options is included here, with a good amount of ways to adjust the experience. The only minor issue I found is occasionally teleporting when I meant to use snap-turning. I spent most of my time using smooth locomotion to get around while playing seated, so it was a bit jarring.
This is more of a backhanded compliment than a downside, but the only other issue was that I found it starting to become uncomfortable because I spent so long in the game. It took me about 7 hours to complete Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1. I really got hooked in the latter part and didn’t want to take off the Meta Quest 2 to take a break.
Lights and Sounds
The models look great close-up for the most part, especially since this is on the Meta Quest 2. LAM is behind the design and always seems to do amazing work. Textures occasionally did suffer slightly and detail was certainly lost at a distance. This isn’t surprising for a VR game on this platform.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate can be played with English or Japanese voices. It’s only partially voiced, with only the main characters having full sentences. Even then, sometimes it didn’t say all of their words. Floating subtitles are provided and I found them easily readable, if occasionally not matching the spoken words.
I played with the English voices, despite usually going for the Japanese. The voice acting definitely helped immersion and each of the roles was played well. I was pleased to find this, as with a couple of exceptions, I wasn’t a huge fan of it in Altdeus: Beyond Chronos.
The use of music was good here too. Background music helped to create tension in the right places and changed as situations escalated.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 has a fascinating world and engaging mysteries to solve. It hooked me from the start and just kept getting better. While the other games in the wider franchise use time looping, it does it here in a much more interesting way. While I did bring up a few issues, Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate – Episode 1 is a story worth experiencing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Episodes 2 and 3 bring.
DYSCHRONIA: CHRONOS ALTERNATE – EPISODE 1 IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to MyDearest for an Meta Quest 2 review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.