ChronoClock is a visual novel that was successfully funded on Kickstarter with Sekai Project raising over $87,000 in September 2016. Developed by Purple Software, known for Mirai Nostalgia and Amatsutsumi, the visual novel is a dating sim fused with comedy and time travel elements. After the allocated Kickstarter funds were used to produce physical limited edition merchandise for backers, ChronoClock is now available and published on Steam in February 2017 for dating sim fans and the visual novel community.
The story follows Rei Sawatari, the young heir to a wealthy corporation who inherited a treasured pocket watch from his late grandfather as an heirloom. As Rei discloses to the reader, the watch holds a mysterious power allowing him to travel back in time five minutes at any given time. With this gift at his disposal, he does not contemplate world peace or helping the world at all but searching for true love as he rewinds time to pursue girls at his own leisure and avoid rejection. He is shocked to learn first year student, Suzuki Miu, fell to her death from the school rooftop as he inadvertently interrupted her confession to his best friend that led to her emotional fallout shortly after. Feeling responsible for his actions, he agrees to help Suzuki with her second confession while searching for his own courage to ask one of his schoolmates out. Along the way, he is accompanied and badgered by Chronos, the Goddess of Time and the spiritual deity living inside his pocket watch whom he casually refers to as “Cro”. Rei is labeled as a pervert by his friend Shuuji as he unapologetically creates a list of cute girls to ask out and finds himself in more than a few compromising situations with his female schoolmates.
An abundance of customization options is found in the settings menu where you can adjust the font color, gradient and the volume for each character. ChronoClock features one of the most comprehensive system configuration menus I’ve seen that includes: font settings, text display speed, voice playback, mouse cursor settings, visual effects, screen and animation settings and more. Character designs are detailed with a variety of facial expressions and artistic backgrounds that work well together. The text box consistently moves across the screen as each character speaks, making the story easy to follow with minimal confusion as to who is speaking when there are two or three characters simultaneously. Testing out the font color settings is strongly recommended as some of the pre-assigned colors are too bright and difficult to read with certain backgrounds. Many of the settings are quickly accessible at the top of the screen that are categorized and assigned from the F1 to the F12 keyboard buttons. In the latter half of the game, there are times the translation is broken with random symbols and characters appearing in place of the dialogue that breaks the flow of the game. Hopefully this issue is quickly addressed with further updates and patches to the game via Steam prior to its release.
Time travel is the recurring theme in ChronoClock as Rei discovers the benefits and pitfalls to rewinding the passage of time by five minutes. More than you may expect, the game delves deeper into the issues of fear, consequences, decision making and what it means to live life a day at a time. With few choices to make it in the game, much of the story revolves around the group dynamics and humorous scenarios of Rei courting his chosen lady and learning how to be more of a gentleman. When idle and left running on the title screen, the game plays introduction videos of each of the female characters you encounter in Rei’s daily school life. Once you complete the game with the different endings, the “Repeat” mode is unlocked that sheds more light on Chronos and her backstory in relation to Rei.
The visuals and soundtrack complement each other well as the characters are expressive with top notch voice acting. A colorful theme surrounds the game with the distinct hair colors and personalities that make the female characters stand out. Chronos, the Goddess of Time, has the most eye catching outfit wearing a yukata from the get-go as she follows Rei around and randomly appears at unexpected times. Regarding the soundtrack, the music is standard fare with a couple of memorable tunes that can be replayed in the music gallery.
ChronoClock is an enjoyable visual novel with a comedic cast of characters. Though the translated dialogue still requires fixing, fans will be delighted to hear that there are other paths to unlock after they have initially finished the main story. There are no Steam cards or achievements announced at this time but that may change with future patches and updates. The game’s story and graphics are the highlights and exactly what you would expect in a lighthearted and whimsical dating sim style game.
PROS (+): Colorful Graphics, Hilarious Characters, Multiple Endings
CONS (-): Areas of Broken Dialogue
This review is based on a digital copy of ChronoClock on Steam provided by Sekai Project.
Update (3/1/2017): Thanks to Sekai Project for informing us that if the game is reloaded from the beginning of the route that has the text issues, they will be fixed.