The world has fallen into ruin and only one man can help restore it to its former glory…
Welcome to the time bending puzzler that is: Chronology!
Chronology has a simple and very intuitive game play – and it instantly reminded me of other puzzle games like the XBLA title “Braid”. However, I found Braid to be somewhat cryptic at times and the story to be very heavy-handed with prose and metaphorical issues. In Chronology, it’s another story. A story about an old inventor, and his sidekick snail.
Looking up the word on Wikipedia gives you quite a good explanation of the games core mechanic:
“… is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time.”
The player can bend time and convert the landscape around them to signify that you have either gone back in time where everything was intact and wonderful, or you’re in the present which is a ravaged and torn world. This mechanic is not groundbreaking, but there is quite a world of difference when talking execution of this. In Chronology, it blends perfectly with the environment, because switching between past and present is almost a switch between light and dark. The backgrounds change dramatically to convey that time has made a very huge impact on the sweet Inventors world. Something he, as the game begins, wants to figure out immediately. So he goes searching for his old inventions. The first of which, is a clock that can help him travel back in time.
The great thing about “arranging events in their order of occurrence in time” is that it can be played around with in Chronology. Take a seed you’ve taken from the present, plant it in the past and you’ll have a tree you can climb when you go back to the present. That sort of puzzle making is really enjoyable because it will take you a few tries to get it completely right.
The inclusion of a companion for The Inventor is something I really enjoyed. Not only is the Snail you encounter pretty funny, but she is also a really valuable asset to the Inventor. As you easily switch between the two during game play, they have their own strengths. Snails, as they do, stick on to every surface. She cannot jump or traverse gaps – but she can stick to the ceiling or the side of a mountain so the Inventor can jump on her shell and advance further. Another great feature which is implemented with the Snail is her ability to stop time. That way, there are a few puzzles that become even more intriguing and harder to figure out. Even though you might get stumped at a few puzzles, if you keep at it, they are not impossible to figure out which is good for a game such as this. It keeps it all very easy to pick up and put down without frustrating the player too much.
One of my favorite parts of Chronology, is that it is so wonderful to look at. The Inventor and his Snail are quirky characters that make sense together. The difference in the buildings between the present and the past are stark but equally well done. The contrast between the Snail’s mechanical looking shell and it’s fleshy parts underneath makes you realize that it’s not just a regular old snail. (The fact that she talks would be a huge indicator too). This brings me to the voice over work, which is spot on. The Inventor has a very engrossing storyteller voice which really helps you to understand both the game mechanics and to imagine the world that you’re slowly trying to put back together piece by piece. It is clearly a game where there has been quite an attention to detail and it’s worked out beautifully.
Platforms to chose
I had the pleasure of both trying the game out on the PC as well as my iPhone, and I must say, while I played through the PC version first, I loved the implementation on my handheld device. It was smooth, flawless and in some ways became a little easier to handle. The buttons on the screen were easier to distinguish than when you were playing on a keyboard – where I would frequently be bad at remembering which key did what. So I really feel one of the games absolute strengths is that it works great on either PC or a handheld device.
Really a pleasure to be introduced to this game that combines so many great things, into a package that can easily stand next to other puzzle titles such as Braid or Limbo. While the game was a little on the short side, I honestly didn’t have that big of a problem with it, because it’s a great game and the overall quality really speaks for itself.
It is out for purchase on Steam and has just recently been added to the App Store as well, so go pick up a cool Indie puzzle game that will take you on a great trip!
Miss; While not really being a negative point for me, it was on the shorter side.
Need; Simply more of it.