XBLIndie review: Chronoblast

chronolasers

Chronoblast consists of five stages of bullet hell shooting supplemented by a scoring system based around chaining quick kills together. Your ship’s rapid shot quickly kills small enemies, while the laser maintains your chain when held on larger enemies. You earn supers, which cancel all onscreen bullets and give your ship a boost of firepower.

If those mechanics sound familiar, it’s because they’ve been directly lifted from Cave’s Dodonpachi series and reassembled into a $1 XBLA Indie download. Chronoblast feels short on new ideas, but succeeds in providing a solid alternative to expensive import shooters.

Chronoblast’s design is taken from a genre classic, and it nails the core mechanics. The scoring and shooting are satisfying, with enemies bursting into a small cloud of score items when they die. Triggering a super really speeds up your chaining, and it’s exhilarating to wait that extra second to cancel a ton of shots. This is a very basic system that works well.

It’s good that scoring is kept simple, because Chronoblast is absolutely brutal. The bullet patterns look tamer than those seen in most bullet hell games, but they move incredibly fast. They’re also a good mix of aimed and fixed patterns that work together to trap you between shots. There’s an autobomb mode that essentially gives you heaps of extra lives, but I’d have preferred an easy mode with slower bullets.

chronohyper

The presentation here isn’t as refined as in Cave’s series, with a generic comic-book art style and goofy voiceovers. The bosses are especially plain, and give no indication they’re being damaged. Player ships are chunkily European instead of sleeker anime-inspired design. But some elements are endearing, like the goofy character art for the yellow pilot.

The production isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t hurt the gameplay any. The graphics are clear and don’t muddy the playing field, allowing you to see exactly what you need to dodge and what you need to collect.

Chronoblast does need a quicker way to compare your high scores. There’s no scoreboard after you win or get a game over, so I’m never sure how well I did on my run. Having to remember an eight digit number before scrolling through the leaderboards is a bit of a turnoff.

chronoboss

Chronoblast is also a bit short compared to other shooters, somewhere in range of fifteen minutes long. But I don’t subscribe to a game’s value being proportional to its length: Chronoblast is fun enough to play and replay, and it’s fun enough to recommend.

Ultimately your opinion on Chronoblast will rely as much on what you carry into the game as it will on the quality of the game itself. Personally, I hope developer Nortygames is using this first game to nail down the genre’s core mechanics before dipping into their own well of ideas. I’d have a lot more positive to say about the game if I felt like I hadn’t already played it in a different form.

Chronoblast is a solid debut that places itself in the shadow of an absolute giant, making it hard to do anything but compare the two. But in comparing, I think you’ll find that Chronoblast is a solid game at an extremely competitive price.

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7 Responses to “XBLIndie review: Chronoblast”

  1. Edward Says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, I will certainly download it in the next days.

  2. n0rtygames Says:

    Thanks for the review! Great feedback and will definately serve to make the patch an awesome thing indeed.

    • catstronaut Says:

      Congrats on getting your game released, n0rty! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what the game’s like post-patching. Now… finish Skyravens! Shooter devs aren’t allowed any free time :p

  3. gameramblings Says:

    Had a friend recommend this to me last week. Totally worth the 80 points. Are there any other indie shmup titles worth checking out?

    • catstronaut Says:

      Score Rush is a fantastic 1-4p twin-stick bullet hell, and probably my favorite game on the service. I also really enjoyed Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, but that’s a different beast entirely. Any of the Radiangames games are fun, though they’re typically lesser versions of things found in Geometry Wars 2, so I’d get that first if you don’t have it already.

      I know people really like Shoot1Up, but I haven’t played it myself. It’s hard finding good games in all the XBLIG clutter, so if you have any you’d recommend, let me know!

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