Hal Scion’s investigation into the murder of professor Rumford continues as the city of Astrum Close continues to descend into unreality. After initially pinning the murder on Systelia, a robotic puppet controlled by an unknown party, he discovers that the doll is actually inhabited by his friend and roommate currently in a coma, Maia. Hal, along with his stalwart assistant Lily, dive ever deeper into the mystery, which may just reveal some uncomfortable truths about Hal’s past and the city’s present.
Despite some issues, I enjoyed Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 1 as a sci-fi visual novel in VR. There weren’t many puzzles, but what was there contained a novel use of VR capped off with a tense trial scene in which you finally put all the evidence together. While the first episode was very slow, episode 2 jumps right into the action with some extended puzzles where you need to work together with an NPC by waving at them to safely traverse an underground facility. It’s a lot of fun and, though it is followed by a somewhat frustrating action sequence, sets the tone for what is a much faster paced and more involved experience.
That pace is mostly a boon, but it does result in some unsatisfying narrative beats in the middle. Your primary investigation in this episode is into the murder of that woman who killed you several times in the first episode. This does lead to casting possible suspicion on certain other characters for the main mystery, but right after you solve the murder and go through an entire trial, you just go back in time to prevent the murder from happening. Sure we learned one interesting fact, but I just spent the last hour or so connecting dots that don’t actually matter anymore. It’s a fun investigation and lets you put it all together on your own, the game’s best trait, but it ends up leaving a sour taste.
I don’t want to spoil what happens here, so I’m trying to be vague while conveying my thoughts, because the plot really goes places in this episode. The voice acting and writing are still pretty amateur, but I’m still on the edge of my seat to see what happens. Astrum Close is a fascinating setting, and you interact more with Augmented Dreaming here as something of a side quest. The Supervisor Director will tell you to occasionally check in on AD to provide some dreamers counseling, which leads to a simple Simon Says-style minigame, but I still enjoyed seeing how all these murders are affecting the psyche of the citizens.
Later in the episode, there’s a sequence where you dive into Hal’s blocked memories and solve some puzzles. And by puzzles, I mean picking up some objects and moving them somewhere else. It’s a big step down from the previous episode, and the location itself made me very nauseous. I didn’t expect it to, but this part takes place in a glitched, unfinished cabin that aesthetically looks cool, but somehow leads to some major motion sickness. It’s also the least interesting section because you can guess where it’s going right from the start, but drags on for far too long.
This is still mostly a step up from the first part though. The motion controls and interface just feel better to use, like Hal’s hand sticks to objects and switches much better. I didn’t encounter any stuttering this time either, and noticed that some NPCs have walking and turning animations too. Most still just fade out and back in where they’re going, but hey, baby steps. Of course, the music is still amazing and I am shocked no one has put these bangers on YouTube yet, or anywhere else, for that matter (let me buy your soundtrack, MyDearest!). Episode 2 is just a better, more polished experience and I hope they can keep that trend going for Episode 3 and whatever lies beyond.
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 2
Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate Episode 2 lets you delve even further into this sci-fi murder mystery, with a gripping if poorly written narrative that provides more thrilling twists and turns. While the middle of this middle chapter can be slow and unsatisfying, this is still an incredibly fun plot to piece together in your head.
- Great mysteries
- Amazing music
- Much more stable performance and visuals
- Some sections drag or feel pointless
- Action sequence is unwieldy
- Puzzles are too simple