Remnant: From the Ashes is a hidden gem in the gaming community that wonderfully enacts the Soulslike genre but adds guns to the mix. Recently, Gunfire Games has trademarked the title, Remnant: From the Ashes 2, and the variant title Remnant 2, which is certainly indicative that there is a planned sequel. Not only should fans check out Remnant and eventually its sequel, but they should also check out its lesser-known prequel, THQ Nordic's Chronos: Before the Ashes.
If fans of Remnant's gun-slinging action expect more of the same from Chronos, they won't find it. Dark Souls assuredly inspire Remnant, but the gameplay is quite different in pace and weaponry. Chronos feels more like a direct love letter to the Soulslike genre and Dark Souls specifically by keeping the setting more archaic for the most part and implementing more melee-focused weaponry and combat. It takes all the things that make Dark Souls great, but it simplifies them into a smaller game for a relatively short campaign experience.
The campaign in Chronos is around five to eight hours, but it packs a lot of atmosphere and an intriguing storyline into that length. In Chronos, the player takes on the role of a villager chosen to find and kill a destructive Dragon in the mysterious Labyrinth. The somewhat stressful gameplay mechanic in Chronos is that each time the player dies, the character ages by one year. This is both beneficial and a hindrance, as the player character is stronger when younger, but their arcane ability is more powerful when older.
Equipped with only a sword and a shield, the player must traverse the world of Chronos cautiously and gradually level up to conquer later enemies. Experience can only be spent in Strength, Agility, Arcane, and Vitality. The weapons can only be leveled up to +5, indicative of Chronos' length. The game takes away the more complex leveling system of Soulsborne games and incorporates a much easier system for players, but the enemies are still unforgiving.
The player in Chronos is much more limited in movement and speed than Remnant, so it is advisable to get the timing of parries and dodges right to defeat enemies properly. Though the movement is somewhat rigid, the gameplay proves enjoyable by not overwhelming the player with an unmanageable number of foes. The many puzzles scattered throughout the game are a welcome change to Remnant, and the way the game explores the lore is entertaining.
Chronos: Before the Ashes is a short, but enjoyable, experience for those that enjoy Remnant: From the Ashes. It tells a compelling story, explores more lore, and even gives players a satisfying and unexpected ending that perfectly ties into Remnant. Though the gameplay is a little clunky, Chronos is a great homage to Dark Souls and a wonderful hidden gem for players to experience while they wait for Remnant 2.