This is part of my Pint Size profiles, a type of review for smaller games that don’t fit well into the standard scoring system. Instead, I review the game, look at the price point and give you my verdict on whether or not its worth the price.
Chrono Ghost is a side-scrolling platformer developed by NITETIME studios. It is available on Steam
Often times when I see someone describe a game as difficult, I tend to roll my eyes. One of my biggest gripes with gaming today is how easy and dumbed down many titles tend to be. Many of those games don’t even give me an option to change the difficulty. So when I saw people describe Chrono Ghost as very difficult, I was skeptical. Well, two hours into the game I had died 507 times (The game keeps track) consider me thoroughly humbled.
You play as the Chrono Ghost and have to navigate some seriously tough platforming challenges with the use of proper timing, reflexes, and control over time. To my surprise, you pick a difficulty setting when you start the game. The setting doesn’t at all affect the platforming, instead, it dictates your time limit for each stage and how many lives you get. Run out of time, or lives and you start the stage over from the beginning.
I choose the middle option which gives you 15 minutes and 100 lives per stage. My reasoning was, 100 lives are plenty, I’m good at games, I’ve totally got this. Spoiler alert, I did not, in fact, have it….
That’s me! dying! A lot!
I used a gamepad to review the game and I highly recommend using one when you play. The controls are simple enough. You move the character with a stick, you can jump, dash, crouch and control time.
The ability to manipulate time is the games core feature that sets it apart from other platformers. Mapped to each button is the power to speed up time, slow it down and stop it completely. You can speed up and reverse time at will and for as long as you want. But stopping time drains a meter that takes some time to recharge.
There is a catch, however. Each stage is littered with hazards and objects. Your time powers only affect those that are green, anything that is red is immune to your powers. You will need to use your head, your powers, and some keen reflexes and timing to traverse each stage. Figuring out how the green and the red interact is key. Spears thrust up and down, clock hands spin and platforms move. Some of them can be manipulated with your time powers while others cant.
Some challenges required me to time my jumps and dashes at the right moment. Others needed me to slow down or speed up hazards long enough to get by. And some even had me controlling the speed of a moving platform to pass safely by manipulating time.
Some hazards move, you can slow, speed up or stop the green ones. The red ones will ignore the time power and stab you in the face anyway.
Each stage is expertly designed, the layout of every challenge is clever and while I died all the time, it never felt like I died unfairly. There is a method to each obstacle and you have to mentally solve it, and physically complete it. Each set of obstacles in a stage has a checkpoint. If you die you start at the edge of the next obstacle. Unless of course, you run out of time or lives, then you start the entire stage over.
The game did frustrate me a great deal, but that’s not a criticism of Chrono Ghost, it’s of myself. Had you been anywhere near my vicinity while I was reviewing the game, you would have heard a 30-year-old man do an impression of Donald Duck, absolutely losing his mind more than once. To the game’s credit, however, the frustration rarely made me want to shut it off and walk away. It made me double down and try again, refusing to let the game beat me.
Manipulating time is a key aspect of many of the game’s challenges.
Once you think you have got the hang of the games song and dance, the later levels destroy your intricate waltz with a sledgehammer to the knee. Introducing new mechanics such as reversed gravity, slippery ice, and sticky floors. Each one adds a new layer of challenge to the platforming puzzles and it does a good job of breaking up the gameplay at any time it has a chance of getting stale.
The music varies between each stage and it’s impressively good. It never takes the spotlight but its always there in the background and is pleasant to listen too. Though I found it somewhat frustrating at times. I’d be sitting there raging at my recent string of deaths, meanwhile, the music remained ever so calm and serene. Strangely enough, it reminded me of the narrator in Getting Over It with Bennet Foddy. A calm and somber background to mock my failure.
Other levels had more upbeat and intense music that suited my mood more, and like the mellow tracks, they too sounded good and added to my enjoyment of the game.
Later levels introduce new mechanics, such as ice that causes you to slide into the evil pointy objects.
The visuals are beautiful too, the main character and obstacles all look great, and I appreciated how many of the hazards shared the game’s theme with time. Many of them resemble objects related to clocks and watches and it fits the game’s atmosphere really well. But the backgrounds really take the cake. They are gorgeous and each stage has its own distinct flavor and style.
From top to the bottom the game is well crafted and designed. The graphics and audio are top notch and the game’s platforming is fun and clever. But it is extremely difficult. I really can’t emphasize that point enough. If you like challenging platformers, you’re going to adore Chrono Ghost. If you are impatient or get frustrated easily, you’re going to hate it.
The time mechanics are interesting and I enjoy the unique way that Chrono ghost handles the difficulty settings. By the time I completed the game I had racked up 774 deaths. The game’s length is going to depend wildly on your own skill. But it took me around 4 hours on the normal setting. You could always go back for a hardcore setting run though.
I encountered one bug, after one death in a lava-filled level the game kept respawning me in to lava with no platform beneath me. But for the most part, I have very little to criticize about Chrono Ghost. It isn’t for everyone, but if you like tough platformers it is only $9.99 on Steam.
The game’s stages are incredibly beautiful.
A key for Chrono Ghost was provided for GideonsGaming by NITETIME studios.
- Stellar Visuals and great music
- Clever level design
- Fun Time manipulation mechanics
- Very challenging.
- Neat take on difficulty settings.
- A little short
- One bug made a tough level even harder.