The Elite Institute’s ‘impressions’ series are not full reviews of titles. As we pride ourselves on providing in-depth reviews for games that we have beaten or completed, our ‘impressions’ instead focus on providing you with details on the game along with our general thoughts on the title, to help shape your opinion. This means that there will be no score, but we can hopefully give you an idea of the quality.

The reasons for doing an ‘impressions’ rather than a full review vary: perhaps it’s a genre that we don’t feel comfortable reviewing due to gaming tastes, maybe it’s too hard or too bad that we are unable to make it through, or maybe even it’s a game that just doesn’t really have an end goal.


A slight disclaimer before we start: we’re on the verge of our break for the year and are drawing things to a close in preparation. As such, we’re being a little bit more particular about things we cover so that we do end up actually getting a break at some point. We wouldn’t normally dream of covering an RPG at this time due to both their length and our usual indifference to the genre, but we were offered the title by Astrolabe Games (who also published the recently covered Brave’s Rage) so we agreed to give our impressions on the initial couple of hours.

As such, this impressions will cover the story premise and the general gameplay mechanics but may not necessarily be indicative of the entire experience.

Many thanks to Astrolabe Games for the game code.

Unlike most RPGs that pit you in the role of either an unknowing hero or just a random dude, Souls of Chronus places you in the shoes of a gangster named Sid who effectively shakes down the city of Astella for cash under the iron fist of the Hyenas. He’s slightly idealistic, but still not exactly a good guy. The problem is that a new rival gang is starting to push the Hyenas out of town, and the death of some of their members has prompted them to take action.

Playing as a gangster makes the story quite appealing from a narrative perspective compared to most other RPGs and is very much a welcome one. Whilst he does seem quite charming at first, you’re quickly shown the nature of his work and his character by shaking down a mother and daughter who are in debt to the gang. Depending on your actions both during and prior, they won’t be too happy about your interaction. Dialogue options are present in the game, although many are tied to certain skills you have developed over the course of the game. You can be brutish, you can be thoughtful, you can be who you want to be. But you still have to be a gangster.

As you might have expected from the genre, you won’t be entirely alone over the course of your adventure. You’ll pick up a companion early on called Torii. She’s one of a handful of individuals that seem to be able to manipulate time, effectively stopping it at will. After saving Sid’s life, she joins him on his journey – both uncertain as to what lies ahead.

There’s some really interesting story beats here that keeps the overall plot engaging. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, but one that was managed to be saved at the last minute by a handful of heroes. This new world is different, and not entirely pleasant, but it’s one you find yourself wanting to know more about. The dialogue too is also relatively decent for the most part, although it seems like the translation ended up being far wordier than it probably should have been and can result in the occasional draining conversation.


The game’s  artstyle was admittedly my biggest turnoff before going into the game. I’ve never been a fan of the chibi artstyle and I expected that to be more off-putting than it actually turned out to be. As it turned out, I actually adjusted to it fairly quickly in action and found it far more charming than I had anticipated. Whilst it does look a little off when placed next to the excellent character art during speech, I found it to be rather pleasant overall. Environments too pop with a lot of colour and everything feels like a pretty cohesive world; it may lack the exaggerated style of the people wandering around, but it all still gelled together rather well.

What didn’t click so much for me though was the gameplay, specifically the combat. Questing and wandering around the towns is all as standard as you would expect and certainly engaging enough due to the aforementioned story, however the combat is mediocre at best.

Instead  of being turn based, the game decides to opt for a more active battle system. Whilst this is a decision I usually applaud in an RPG, it’s pretty tiresome here. Enemies are scattered around the screen and you simply walk up to them and press the attack button to hit them. There’s very little in the way of animation, and you can’t even see the hefty weapon you are supposed to be holding, making the combat feel pretty unsatisfying. Hits, whether by melee or by ranged attack, all sound pitifully weak too, which doesn’t help matters any. Things get a bit more interesting with Torii since you can fill up a meter than allows you to momentarily use her time stop ability, but it still doesn’t help make the action any more fun.

What makes it even worse is that it’s entirely possible to walk unknowingly into a new area and enter straight into a fight with opponents at a far higher level than yourself. There’s no way to escape, meaning that all you can do is die and be sent back to the last save point. Considering the game has infrequent autosaves and specific (and also not frequent) save points for manual saves, it just means you’ll end up losing progress through no fault of your own. More frequent checkpoints or being able to save at will would alleviate the frustration a lot, as would being able to escape fights and retreat back to the previous screen.

Souls of Chronus is definitely a little rough around the edges, with some questionable design choices, mediocre combat, and a handful of minor bugs; however, it also has a surprising amount of charm that endeared me to it during my playtime. It wasn’t quite enough to encourage me to stick with it, especially as I rather hated the combat, but as someone who normally doesn’t care much for the genre the rest of the game was probably never going to make me keep with it anyway. That being said, if you are looking for an RPG at a cheap price that does something a little bit different, then you may just enjoy this one.