Chronovolt is a Super Monkey Ball type of game. In the game you control a ball called a chronovolt, which you have to navigate through mazes filled with puzzles and obstacles.
With games like Chronovolt, controls are everything. If they are not tight enough, the game falls through the cracks. In Chronovolt you move the ball with the left stick and rotate the camera with your right analogue stick. This principle has proven itself and at first glance seems to be doing the trick here as well. In the beginning I faulted myself when I fell off narrow paths. But after a couple of hours, with the same things still happening, I did come to the conclusion that the controls are not responsive enough at times, especially when compared to the Super Monkey Ball games, where from the start you know every mistake you make is your own. I rarely lose my temper with games, after all it’s just a game, but Chronovolt did make me swear on a bunch of occasions.
Chronovolt time travel, freeze and attacks
When you make a mistake in Chronovolt you can correct it with using some fluid which you picked up by using your thumbs to touch the screen. This will rewind the clock a little bit, putting you right there were you fell off. This gameplay mechanic also comes into play with some of the puzzles, which is defiantly nice. When you double tap on an enemy ball on the screen, you will attack and destroy the other Chronovolt. At least, that is how it is supposed to work. I can’t count how many times I had more than enough fluid and double tapped exactly on the enemy, with it not working. It didn’t work more times than it actually did work. Being one of the core gameplay mechanics, this might be called disappointing. The other thing you can do with the fluid is freeze an object, so you can pass it. Like a rotating bar for instance.
Chronovolt is typically one of those games that doesn’t really need a story, but developer Playerthree gave it one anyway. It’s about a girl and her grandpa who are chasing after some dark guy in a steam punk art style. Unfortunately when you replay levels, you have to click through the same humour-lacking storyboards again, which are little more than a picture with some text. It would be nice if there was an option to completely turn off the storyline. Very convenient is the option to swipe down the text when it pops up, which is especially handy when you have to revisit levels to get extra stars.
The steampunk story is pretty much only seen in the conversations. The levels itself have little to do with the story, which is unfortunate. The levels find place in exotic places like China and the jungle, but are a little pale and could have been more industrial. The levels and the story are fairly separated and don’t really mix together well. It would have been nicer if Playerthree had given the same treatment as the story parts of the game.
Chronovolt was part of the highly anticipated European PlayStation Plus line-up, which means if you have a subscription to the PlayStation Plus service, you can pick this game up for ‘free’. Free is a word with multiple butt’s in this occasion. First of all, PlayStation Plus costs about €59,99 a year, which is fine for the service they are providing. The issue here is, that if you want to get further in the game than the first two worlds, you will need to buy extra balls for another €1,19. Not a big price to get everything out of what this game has to offer, but it’s a little bit annoying that the game is not complete to start with. It would have been nice if there was at least one extra Chronovolt which could be unlocked in the game itself, which could speed things up a little bit. The normal price, which you will have to pay for this game if you don’t have PS+ and after it left PS+ is €6,19.
A game can have a lot of things working against itself, but the most important thing is of course if it’s fun to play. Chronovolt has parts which are really fun. It’s cool to see all the things you can do with a rolling ball, navigating it through small paths is fulfilling at times and beating the clock with a second left on the clock is awesome. But is it enough? The answer to that is yes, for a while. Chronovolt is one of those games I hated to love, the bugs, the faulty control system and the uninvolving story, they are all causes to not play this game after one hour. But I did find myself playing the game over and over again, even after I decided I had given up on it.
I found myself hating and loving Chronovolt. With all of its shortcomings, I can’t really recommend buying Chronovolt. If you have PlayStation Plus, than defiantly give it a go. Playerthree is working on patches for the bugs in Chronovolt, so maybe the game was just released too early to make it for the European PlayStation Plus launch. If they can fix the big issues like attacking, falling right through platforms without any reason and at least one extra ball is added to the standard pack, I would recommend picking it up, even when it’s €6,19.