PressQuit “Retro” Review: Dark Chronicle for PlayStation 4

Dark Chronicle FI

Ever since late 2015, SONY has been releasing PlayStation 2 games on the PlayStation 4. Complete with upgraded graphics, full trophy support and remote play, these are usually the definitive ways to play these games if you in fact own a PlayStation 4. With a price-tag of €10,- to €15,- these are also mostly the cheapest ways to do so. Regardless of nostalgia and price however, PressQuit went to have a look at one of the best PlayStation 2 games ever made; Dark Chronicle. Does it hold up and is it still worth playing 13 years (!!) after it’s initial European release… Spoiler, the answer is yes, definitely yes!

Not quite a Remaster..

..but all the mastering you need. As with many things of old, they are greater in your head than they are in reality. The new PS4 re-release with sharper graphics however, makes Dark Chronicle look and feel how you remember the game, not how it actually was! Don’t go expecting a Remake or Remaster however. This is very much the Dark Chronicle it always was, only displayed at a much higher resolution. Due to the already timeless cell-shaded graphics, this up-res was all the treatment it really needed.

Dark Chronicle 2
 

As so it begins

As for the story, it’s enough to move the narrative forward. There will be no big surprises or plottwist, but is enjoyable enough in it’s own right. The combat feels a bit stiff at first, but is overall good and interesting enough. The many different enemies all have specific strengths, weaknesses and interesting ways to beat. Don’t expect Dark Souls like tactics and pattern recognition, but you’ll soon find yourself approaching each enemy in a way to counter their attacks and minimise the risk you take.

World building

Next to the story and the gameplay, what really differentiates Dark Chronicle (along with it’s sequel Dark Cloud) from other games is the unique city building aspect. To keep it all simple here, the world has been somewhat messed up, and as part of the story, you are tasked to rebuild it. This rebuilding can be as simple and easy as you like but ends up surprisingly deep and able to connect all aspects of the game into a single tool.

 

Tip from a ‘veteran player’:
There are many aspects to level in this game in order to grow stronger and face the increasing challenges ahead of you. While you should make sure none of these aspects are going to lack too far behind, be sure to keep Max’ power up to date.

 

Jack of many, master of some

Apart from the aforementioned gameplay and story, there are a plethora of activities next to the main game. Instead of making them accessible through a menu or optional screen, they are woven into the game as part of the whole. After a set moment in the game, every time you finish a dungeon floor, you’ll be presented with a golf challenge. Though not good enough as a stand-alone game and easily ignored if you just want to continue the story, the golf game provides ample distraction for those who like it, and more than enough challenge for those aiming to get 100%. And then there is the fishing game, the photography and inventing aspect, all accumulating into the collection of medals to get those special extra’s. None of these things are forced on the player and never give you so much of an edge over the enemies that you feel like you have to complete them in order to be competitive. However, even in small doses, they are a fun way to keep you enjoying Dark Chronicle even more.

Dark Chronicle 1
 

Dark Chronicle holds up

For those still in doubt after reading this, Dark Chronicle holds up.. very, very, well! If you want to replay this masterpiece, the PlayStation 4 version is the best way to do so. If however you missed out on it for some reason or want to show somebody who did why the PlayStation 2 era was such a great time, this might just be one of the best places to start.
 

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