Time travelers have always been a little bit…off. Whether this is due to what they have glimpsed traipsing through the timelines or whether it was just the eddies in their behavior due to the genius that allowed them to conquer the time stream, those who dabble in this particular branch of science always come off a little bit..well, off. This is particularly true of the protagonist of Chronology, a puzzle platformer with a heaping dose of adventure developed by Osao Games. The premise of Chronology starts off simply enough with the protagonist-who goes by the name of the Inventor- waking up in a field in the rain after a bright flash of light. He has no memory of how he came to be there and so begins exploring the landscape, looking for clues and finds a rather big one in the form of a curious mechanism that allows him to flick between the past and the future as easily as you would cross the street.
Only one way to find out…
This device is Chronology's primary game mechanic as it is essential for completing the puzzles that you will find in your path. Some of these puzzles require proper, ahem, timing whereas others require you to follow several steps that may include jumping across the time stream multiple times while completing a single puzzle. Better have a notebook handy to keep track of what this does to the continuity. As mind bending as these puzzles are, though, they are without question immense fun, challenging without being frustrating, and a great way to give your brain a workout. If there was anything about this aspect of the game that gave me pause it is the utterly random way in which the game ups the ante with the puzzles; this is achieved by throwing in such elements as plants that you have to plant in the past to help them grow taller in the future, feed them particular kinds of mushrooms to take on different shapes, and much later in the game rely on the company of a talking snail who has the ability to perform short range teleportation and to stop time as long as he holds his breath, like Guldo from the Ginyu Force. It's not that these moments aren't clever and entertaining, but it did make me wonder just how they came up with these ideas.
Separated at birth? You decide.
Surreal as some of the aspects of this game may be it is not only a very fun game, but a very pretty one to boot. It may not have the graphical flash of a AAA game, but there is a lot of cleverness and a lot of care put into the environments. The “present” part of the game takes place after the world has fallen into ruin due to the abuse of the steam powered technology which harnessed the power of the Vapor to power their machines. As the game depends on using what exists both before the world was ruined and after it was ruined to complete challenges, you get neat graphical twists like this:
The audio of the game is well done as well, with a pleasantly atmospheric soundtrack supported by full voice acting and a robust range of sound effects which guarantees that the game is just as easy on the ears as it is on the eyes. The dialogue is what most stands out in my memory, though, as there are several moments when I suffered from severe outbursts of mirth from hearing the characters say things like this:
If you take all these factors into account you end up with a game that is well crafted, challenging, entertaining, a pleasurable experience for the eyes, ears, and mind and often hilariously random and goofy. In short, it is everything a time traveling game puzzle/adventure/platforming steampunk game should be… fun!