A few of us (well, millions) have been living in virtual reality games for years, seeing the format grow from shooting ranges and walking simulators to increasingly immersive and complex experiences. I’m watching over you. But one genre that didn’t necessarily expect to jump into VR was visual novels.
I’m not a believer in style, but I’m grateful for the way visual novels can provide a new perspective on how they interact with the written story. ALTDEUs: Beyond Chronos extends the usual visual novel style to include full voice manipulation and some basic physical interactions.
ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos’s style and story is as animated as you want. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Japanese culture or a relatively newcomer, you’ll soon notice many of the clichés and metaphors, but as is often the case, these general visuals are interesting in technology and emotion. Hide the story. By experiencing this in VR, we were able to truly strengthen the core themes and ideas of the story, which was better than originally expected. Given that MyDearest’s previous VR visual novel, Tokyo Chronos, was very well received, this was probably not surprising, but I came to ALTDEUS with a fresh eye.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a giant alien called Meteorus has destroyed the surface of the Earth, made the rest of the human survivors live underground, and used its own virtual reality system to enhance the environment. I am doing it. This blend of systems and settings is a clever way to overcome the usual barriers to the screen and works especially well in VR.
You play as Lieutenant Chloe, a “designed human” (like a cyborg, but not fully explained) and a giant battle robot pilot tasked with defending against Meteora. I will. In the first place, Chloe is a blank character with few emotions and characteristics, but as the game progresses, she becomes more and more human and unique. The game develops into a story of revenge when she finds out that she is still suffering from the sadness of her friend Coco, who was eaten by Meteora.
Visually, ALTDEUS is impressive in a very animated way. The environment is simple, but the character model has a lot of details. These range from obligatory pointed-haired guys to embarrassing “wives,” and most interestingly, the scientist Julie, who created a replacement body that looks like a cross between Edward Scissor Hands and the Barbie doll. I’m a professor. In real anime style, look down and you’ll find your own set of virtual boobs, that’s it. This makes sense to play a female character, but it’s a spectacular inclusion because there’s no body under the anime’s chest.
Most of the action is done in the game engine, but sometimes we switch to flashback sequences in cutscenes, and there are some immersive concert scenes that are fun in later playthroughs. Later playthroughs do not mean vaguely repeating the game, but this structure requires you to play multiple times to find the actual story. This makes the overall play time for this format surprisingly long, but it’s not immediately obvious that there’s so much to see after completing the game for the first time. It’s too easy to think that you’ve reached the end and uninstalled the game, but doing so means you missed something really interesting.
I fell into this trap, but I was fortunate that the press release prompted me to play again. The second, third, and subsequent playthroughs aren’t just a simple matter of repeating the same content and making different choices, but they actually follow completely different routes throughout the game, opening up new perspectives. The first playthrough made me pretty cold, but after playing the game many times, it became really emotional in a way I didn’t expect.
Writing the story here is probably the most important aspect, and that’s okay. The overall story is interesting, going in some amazing directions, the characters are well defined, and there are few particularly offensive moments. That said, this is by no means a breakthrough prose, and the overall effect is the result of a combination of writing and performance. Most of the cast did a good job of guiding the character into a virtual life, and I was happy to hear a lot of lines, but if you read it earlier than the delivery, you can take advantage of the quick skip option. If you choose to listen to the narration instead, the subtitles are clear and not very distracting.
But given how pop music stands out in game marketing and storylines, I was surprised at how low the soundtrack of the mix was. Occasionally there are moments that are central, but I expected more than I expected.