Game Title: Chronus Arc
Company: Hit Point, KEMCO
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 4 – 7 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 131 MB

KEMCO has released a lot of RPGs on consoles, and it’s really a big learning scenario when you actually get into their games and play so many of them, especially considering the fact that KEMCO is a publisher and doesn’t develop every single one of these games by themselves. With that in mind, it really makes a lot of sense for them being able to release a good few of these console versions/ports within a year or two’s time.

Lately, the Switch community has been given some of the non-EXE Create KEMCO RPGs and they’ve been quite unique and out of the standardized retro RPG formula. Marenian Tavern Story was one big one that felt more like a retro-styled Atelier game and today’s game also has a few things that are a bit different about it.

Not its first handheld release, here is my review of Chronus Arc for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

arc 2 - story

In Chronus Arc, the world revolves around the “Time Rewinding”, an event where special Chronus Fragments are used to rewind time for certain items, mending what the Gods deem worthy of being repaired and given new life and use.

You play as Loka, a young man working towards being a Sorcerer Knight, the chosen few that collect the Chronus Fragments for the Time Rewinding Festival. Upon being appointed, however, his master disappears and a gang of thieves steals the Fragment. Together with his childhood friend, he sets off after them to retrieve the fragment so the Time Rewinding can happen as it’s supposed to.

The story of Chronus Arc isn’t awful, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to it either. To be honest, the whole game feels rushed in its storyline. I’ll explain this later on in the review, but it doesn’t feel like there’s much to the story, overall. It works fine with pushing you forward, but it’s not a long narrative.

Gameplay

arc 3 - battle

Chronus Arc is a turn-based RPG set up like an old SNES-style RPG. You wander around a world map, buy and upgrade equipment in towns, and take part in turn-based battles in dungeons. It’s similar to most of KEMCO’s other RPGs, outside of a few unique features.

The style of progression is typical Retro RPG progression. The story pushes you forward to new locations along a world map and let you freely roam that world map to find new towns and dungeons. It’s pretty linear, though, as most story-centric dungeons won’t allow you to enter until the story is ready for you to go there.

The big unique aspects of this game are Puzzle Dungeons, Upgrading Equipment, and Character Classes. Every dungeon has locked doors that require the moving of stone pillars and pots in patterns and on switches to open. These puzzles are pretty similar to how dungeons work in the 2D Zelda games.

arc 4 - upgrades

Equipment Upgrades work with materials and equipment branches. You can get recipes from NPCs for different weapons and armor pieces you can craft from previous equipment in the game. Each piece can upgrade into different pieces, like crafting a sword into a Fire or Ice Sword, or upgrading a set of armor into Defense-heavy or Magic Defense-heavy new set.

Finally, we have Classes. When a character reaches Level 30, they can use a special item to change to a different Class. This changes their base stat range and gives them a bundle of new skills they can learn as they re-level on top of the skills they already knew. Granted, the items required are tied to special in-game currency that takes a bit to grind for, but you can go through a range of classes to gain a lot of helpful skills for all of the classes each character has available to them.

This also brings up that in-game currency. You can exchange the number of enemies you killed for Mana, which can be used to buy special items and keys to access special dungeons. In the Mobile version of the game, these can be earned this way or bought via Micro-Transactions, but those Micro-Transactions are not available in the console version. Instead, you can only get them by exchanging kills. There are special Micro-Transactions for cheat items, though.

arc 5 - mana

It takes a good while to rack up these kills, especially when 10 kills gets you about 2 Mana and getting the Class Items or EXP and Gold Rings take around 75 a piece (equating to roughly 150+ enemies killed per item you want). It’s a bit of a grind, especially when you are getting those items to grind and gain new skills.

Grinding is the name of the game here, too. Chronus Arc has very large difficulty spikes after nearly every dungeon and boss. There is no difficulty setting to make things harder or easier, and each dungeon had me going through and collecting materials, upgrading equipment as far as they could go before the next dungeons and then being right back to being thrashed around when the next dungeon opens up, starting that process all over again.

Sadly, enough, that also leads me into content and length. It took me around 20 hours to get through the game, though I’d say at least half of that was me constantly grinding for equipment upgrades and leveling. In this way, the game itself feels like it’s pretty short since there’s a ton of grinding between story and bosses.

Controls

The controls are pretty simple in the game. No touch controls, so everything you do is with the buttons.

You move around with the D-Pad / Arrow Buttons and the Left Analog Stick. The four triggers don’t really do anything, nor do the plus and minus buttons. The rest is with the face buttons. The A button selects options and B cancels options. X opens the menu and Y opens up the Map Screen.

Presentation

arc 6 - presy

Graphically, it’s got that SNES look to it, but it’s very clear it’s based off of that SNES look. A lot of the renders look a tad blurry in docked mode and aren’t nearly as polished as some of the more recent RPGs KEMCO has published.

Nothing wrong with performance, though. Load Times are short and frame-rate never stutters or drops.

Battery Life

Considering how this game looks, I expected great things out of its Battery Life. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 58 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 5 hours, 37 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 12 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 6 hours, 59 minutes

As expected, it did great things.

In conclusion, Chronus Arc is an interesting retro RPG that has some Zelda-like puzzle elements and a nifty upgrade system thrown in. Granted, it’s story and pacing feel a bit hurt by the large grinding you do for the large difficulty spikes involved, but if you’re itching for a new Switch RPG from KEMCO, it’s a decent 20-hour trek.

Final Score: 6/10