By Leah McDonald / April 17th, 2023
|Title||Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate|
|Developer||MyDearest, IzanagiGames, Inc.|
|Publisher||Perp Games, VR Monkey|
|Release Date||Meta Quest 2: Sept 22, 2022 (Episode 1), Dec 8, 2022 (Episode 2)
PlayStation VR 2: Feb 22, 2023 (Episode 1), Mar 17, 2023 (Episode 2)
|Genre||VR Investigation Adventure|
|Platform||Meta Quest 2, PlayStation VR2|
I make no secret that ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos is one of my favorite games in recent years, and probably my favorite VR title ever (sorry, Beat Saber). So when MyDearest announced Dyschronia: Chronos Alternate was coming to PSVR2, I absolutely had to try it for myself. This universe is absolutely fascinating and I wanted to see more of it. Did Episode 1 of this trilogy live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.
Far into the future, one of the last bastions of humanity is a secluded city by the sea called Astrum Close, where the populace are kept calm and content through a shared dream state called Augmented Dreaming, or AD. The city is run by an Artificial Intelligence named Justicius, as well as their founder, Professor Albert Rumford. Life here is effectively free of strife thanks to the AD, and the crime rate is all but nonexistent. So it comes as an understandable shock when the Professor is found murdered in his study – an event that should be theoretically impossible.
In steps Hal Scion, one of the newest Supervisors in Astrum Close. Supervisors are meant to keep the peace and handle the few instances of unrest among the populace by offering counseling to those in the AD. But as his very first assignment, Hal is tasked with solving the Professor’s murder. After all, Hal is a Variant – a human with supernatural abilities – who is capable of not only seeing the past by interacting with objects using his left hand, but of changing it, as well. With his Memory Dive ability, can he solve this locked room murder mystery? When the clock tower bell tolls, what will fate have in store for Hal and the city? Is the end really coming in seven days? And what does the Professor’s death have to do with it all?
I’m a big fan of murder mysteries, so right off the bat Dyschronia had me hooked, but what kept me coming back was the time travel aspect of this futuristic detective story. During his investigation of the Professor’s murder, Hal comes across a suspicious woman who unceremoniously shoots him dead. Yet somehow, he awakens inside the clock tower – which has been sealed closed for 12 years – where he meets an equally mysterious young girl who tells him to go back in time and save the city. The next thing Hal knows, he’s returned to the beginning of the day, only this time he remembers everything that happened and can change the course of events. Not only does this give the Professor’s murder a lot more layers, it also dovetails nicely with Hal’s Variant ability to gently nudge other people’s memories to create new outcomes. Are the clock tower and his ability somehow related? Who is the young girl? And does saving the city mean saving the Professor, or is it something else?
While Hal might be the only one who can travel through time, he isn’t the only one trying to solve this mystery. His childhood friend and fellow Supervisor, Ash, has been assigned as his partner in this investigation, though more often than not he’s off doing his own thing. Instead, you spend most of your time with Lily, an AI construct originally created as a companion for your childhood best friend Maia. Unfortunately, Maia has been in a coma for the last three years after an experiment involving herself, Hal, and the Professor went horribly wrong. Since then, Lily has been in the care of Maia’s younger brother Noel, but for this investigation she’s here to help. Lily is perfect, I love her and I want my own.
Actually, all the characters in Dyschronia are really interesting and engaging. As the POV character, Hal is actually an amnesiac thanks to the botched experiment from three years ago, but that doesn’t mean he lacks a personality. He doesn’t remember growing up with Maia and Noel, and he doesn’t remember how his life with the Professor was before the accident, so he’s piecing it all together alongside the player without falling into the trap of being a blank slate. He has a strong sense of justice and the need to discover the truth, but he’s also just a genuinely curious person, especially when it comes to the people he interacts with during his investigation. His ability to dive into and manipulate memories could make him come off as creepy, but he’s way too pure for that. I really like Hal, and I was rooting for him to solve the mysteries surrounding his own life as much as I was the murdered Professor.
Lily is, as I mentioned, perfect. She’s chipper without being annoying, and her penchant to ask for head pats was honestly adorable. She also genuinely cares for Hal and the other Variant children, especially Noel, whom she worries over. She clearly has history with the three of them and the Professor, and the fact Hal can’t remember a lot of it seems to sadden her in ways you wouldn’t expect an AI to feel.
Maia and Noel are both a bit more of a mystery. They grew up with Hal after he arrived in Astrum Close nine years ago, but because Hal can’t remember his time with them, we as the player only learn bits and pieces. We know Noel used to be a lot more cheerful before his sister’s coma, and that the three of them spent a lot of time with the Professor. Nowadays, Noel is a bitter recluse who blames Hal for not taking enough care of Maia. Maybe if Hal were around more, his sister would wake up. I really liked Noel. I found him compelling despite his limited screen time, and the gaping hole Maia’s lack of presence leaves is palpable. As Variants, both Maia and Noel also have special abilities. Maia can see the future through Foresight Dreaming. Her predictions always come true, and she saw the end of Astrum Close. Noel can share his dreams with others, and his power is the basis of the city’s Augmented Dreaming.
Read on about this fantastic VR world on page 2 ->
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