STAFF REVIEW of Chronos: Before the Ashes (Xbox One)

Sunday, January 17, 2021.
by Adam Dileva

Chronos: Before the Ashes Box art Remnant: From the Ashes really took me by surprise when it released back in 2019. At first I didn’t get it and was about to give up on it, but then a random stranger online took a buddy and I under his wing and taught us the ropes, which in turn had us really enjoy the game and its expansions, making us fans of the series. So naturally, when Chronos: Before the Ashes was announced to be coming to Xbox, I instantly jumped on the opportunity to cover it, as I figured it would be more Remnant-like goodness that we’ve come to love. I don’t want to say it’s a bait and switch, but Chronos is absolutely nothing like the Remnant we all know.

Technically a prequel to Remnant, Chronos was actually originally a VR only game but has been since 'console-fied', and while it may play absolutely nothing like Remnant, it does dip its toes into a different genre that Dark Souls helped propel into the spotlight. While Chronos may play much like a Souls-like, it does make some mechanical changes for the better that I did enjoy, but it’s definitely a ‘lite’ version and not quite as hardcore in certain respects.

Given that Chronos isn’t a terribly long game, I don’t want to delve too much into the story, as the lore is quite interesting if you’re a Remnant fan and know the basics of what’s going on in its world. Chronos takes place about a month before Remnant, and when you manage to complete the game, it makes for a very interesting setup to Remnant, as you’ll recognize certain locations, enemies and characters. Essentially you’re tasked with stopping a Dragon by venturing into what’s known as the Labyrinth, but the interesting part is that when you die you are cast out from the world, unable to return and try again for a full year, adding age to your character which makes gameplay differences as well. When you die, and you will, you lose a year of your life.

As you begin your journey you’ll first choose between three difficulty levels: Casual, Adventure and Heroic. Casual is for those that simply want to experience the game and lore without having to worry too much about difficult combat. Adventure is your balanced and ideal experience, and of course Heroic is more Souls-like and much more unforgiving.

After choosing your difficulty you’ll decide if you want to play Male or Female. Unfortunately there’s absolutely no character customization at all, so if you’re looking for a personalized character here, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Next is deciding what type of weapon you want to use, based on if you’d rather block and parry your attacks, or dodge like in most Souls-likes. There are new weapons to find along the way, and can upgrade, but there’s not a whole lot, so I generally stuck with the same weapon or so throughout my game. This also meant I was just using a weapon because I had to, rather than really enjoying it or changing my playstyle a certain way. Even though Chronos is a Remnant prequel, there’s absolutely no guns included, making for a strictly melee affair. There is some magic thrown in, but it’s more for enhancing your weapons and attacks rather than spell slinging.

As you level up you’ll be able to improve your stats, though only Vitality, Agility, Strength and Arcane. Each one will cater to a specific playstyle, though I opted for a Vitality and Agility based run to allow for more health and forgiving dodges, though this changes as you age.

Being a Remnant fan, it was awesome seeing those iconic glowing red World Stones return, acting as waypoints and checkpoints just like in Remnant, along with having to use Dragon Hearts to replenish your health. Aside from some other tie-ins though, Chronos is vastly different from the original game I really enjoyed. I’m usually quite terrible at Souls-like games but always willing to give them a chance to see what they have to offer. I really appreciated the easier difficulty options, as I simply wanted to experience the game without having too much frustration from constantly dying like most in the genre. While I did get that, what I didn’t expect was becoming even more frustrated with its very heavy puzzle reliance in its later stages.

Combat isn’t as refined or robust as other Souls games, as it’s quite easy to funnel the AI where you want and to dodge attacks coming your way. Normally in games like these you need to manage your stamina, as balancing the risk versus reward of attacking and dodging without leaving yourself open to attacks is half the strategy. In Chronos though there’s no stamina use from attacking, so you can spam away as long as you know when to dodge appropriately. Health is done quite differently as well, as you have Dragon Hearts to heal yourself like in Remnant, but the main difference here is that they don’t replenish even when you get to a new World Stone. The only way to get your Dragon Hearts back after use is when you die. Yes, you have to die if you want to heal yourself after running out, or be lucky and level up. Dying will also reset enemies that you’ve previously killed, so be prepared for that as well.

As for the level design, the Labyrinth is a great analogy, as the path to take isn’t always clear and linear as you may expect. As with any Souls-like, you’ll have a series of interconnected pathways, some that will only open up and offer shortcuts once you’ve made it to a certain point or beaten a boss. Of course behind nearly every corner are going to be enemies trying to stop you. You’ll learn most of their attack patterns quite quickly, able to block, dodge or parry many of them, while others are quite a nuisance and I dreaded running into them every time.

The most unique and interesting feature in Chronos though has to be its aging mechanic. You begin at the tender age of 18, and every time you die you age a full year. You start to look older as you age as well, eventually having your hair whiten your skin get wrinkled, but your stats will change, favoring strength as you’re young, changing to arcane as you get older. If you do struggle and start to age with each death, you do gain new traits every 10 levels, adding passive bonuses to your character, but as you age you also get closer to death.

What took me the most by surprise aside from the gameplay shift to be Soulslike, is how puzzle heavy Chronos was. Many times you’ll be stumped where to go with a handful of random items in your inventory, unsure where to go or how to use them. Sometimes you also just need to be extra observant and notice certain symbols or sequences so you know how to use a certain object to progress. When I got stuck multiple times, it wasn’t dying that frustrated me, it was the countless time wasted trying to figure where to go as there’s no map, so you need to have a good memory to figure out where you’ve been and how rooms interconnect.

Chronos: Before the Ashes is a capable Soulslike that isn’t terrible by any means, but when comparing to it to Remnant, the lack of guns and complete genre shift simply doesn’t feel as satisfying or stand out. Maybe this is partly due to its VR roots, and while it makes some interesting changes to the typical Souls template, Chronos: Before the Ashes is a much simpler experience overall, not just with its combat, but overall design.

**Chronos: Before the Ashes was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


Site Statistics

Registered Members: 50,937
Forum Posts: 725,924
Xbox One Titles: 3,212
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,086
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 586
Original Xbox Titles: 987
Staff Reviews: 2,105
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 15,810
Screenshots: 34,613
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News

See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

2021: XBA is still here
Post by shrew king
1 Replies, 5035 Views

Watch Dogs: Legion
Post by Nato King
0 Replies, 21018 Views

Xbox Series X or S
Post by Nato King
5 Replies, 25183 Views

Spellbreak Grand Magus Pack (3) and Starter Pack (7) Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 19801 Views

I pay $ 1000! I search the Element 54 Canadian launch Team signaturen Faceplate
Post by Smill
0 Replies, 17835 Views

Xbox one no signal
Post by debrartin
0 Replies, 43933 Views

do you remember?
Post by SnoochyBoochy
3 Replies, 45847 Views

i haz xbox
Post by SnoochyBoochy
0 Replies, 40751 Views

Claiming the first thread of 2020
Post by Kraft
7 Replies, 68491 Views

Important! I pay $ 1000! I search the Sweden launch and the Element 54 Faceplate
Post by Smill
3 Replies, 27771 Views

Squad Up
Post by samslophead
0 Replies, 67450 Views

TERA Skinned Xbox One X Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 55933 Views

Starfield Release expectations?
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 106957 Views

Issue with Xbox live on Xbox home
Post by rcmpayne
0 Replies, 76975 Views

Happy Birthday, Me.
Post by SnoochyBoochy
4 Replies, 93202 Views

© 2000-2021 - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics