Developer(s) – Bedtime Digital
Publisher(s) – Bedtime Digital
PEGI – Not rated (Suitable for all ages)
The debut game of Danish indie outfit Bedtime Studios, who would go on to develop the critical acclaimed indie hits Back to Bed and Figment, Chronology is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle game, which puts the player in the shoes of a kindly old inventor and an anthropomorphic snail with the ability to manipulate time in various ways. Although I had my minor issues with this game, it is a very fun title, which provides an insight into how future Bedtime Digital games would be influenced and where many of their ideas for games came from.
Graphics – 7/10
The game’s visuals are entirely and lovingly hand-drawn taking place in a contrast between the lush green environments of the present day and the dark, gloomy, and seemingly lifeless environments of the future; visible depending on which timeline the player is in at any given moment. The scenery is almost like a character in and of itself with a contrasting personality and a perpetuation of a theme; that theme being the nature of time itself. The game’s soundtrack is for the most part very calm and relaxing but can start to add to tension during precarious platforming sequences for example.
Gameplay – 7/10
The game relies on the player’s ability to effectively platforming as well as puzzle-solving in order to progress. The player must switch between both characters in order to solve puzzles by manipulating time and changing elements of the world in conjunction with how things will be in the future or present if certain things are done within the opposite times. It’s really satisfying to be able to solve each puzzle as it comes, as the entire game can challenge players vigorously to think on their toes for the most part.
Controls – 10/10
The controls, as the 2D side-scrolling genre has been around for over 40 years, were expected to have done correctly, and so they are in this game. There are no unnecessary issues with platforming interacting, and it’s quite clever the way the developers handled the snail’s part in this game in terms of movement in order to progress; for example, the player may have to position the snail in a certain way for the inventor to be able to reach particularly awkward ledges.
Lifespan – 6/10
The game lasts there about the average lifespan of a traditional 2D side scroller, which is around an hour and a half. Although at this point, Bedtime Digital would’ve inevitably have been operating on a budget since this was their first title, I think there was certainly scope for it to have been made to last a little longer at least. Lifespan in their games is something that would be decisively improved upon with games that the company would go on to develop in the future, such as in Back to Bed, Figment, and their upcoming game Figment 2: Creed Valley, but Chronology is a pretty short game. But given how inexpensive it is, it’s not something it should be marked down on too much.
Storyline – 7/10
The story of Chronology follows the exploits of an old inventor, who had been forced into exile by his mentor after having developed a device known as the Verve. Encountering a huge anthropomorphic snail, they resolve to find the mentor and confront him in a plot that provides an intense twist ending. The concept of the game’s story is quite unique and well presented for the small amount of time the game lasts. It’s packed with comedic moments between the inventor and the snail and all comes to a head between the inventor and his former teacher in the final confrontation.
Originality – 6/10
Although the story’s concept is relatively fresh in terms of gaming, where the game stands out most is its approach to gameplay. I’ve seen many puzzle-solving platformers since the start of the eighth generation, but very few have been handled in the same way as in this game, save for titles like The Swapper, Fez, and Guacamelee. For their first foray into gaming, Bedtime Digital did fairly well to provide players with a fresh new experience and would provide the ideal springboard for where their later games would go.
Overall, Chronology, though short, is a fun game for the time it can be made to last; it’s a fairly unique side-scrolling game filled with brain-testing puzzles and a story concept that stands out relatively well within the indie development circle.