After a successful Kickstarter to fund limited edition goods for Purple Software’s visual novel ChronoClock, Sekai Project has finally brought the romantic comedy to Steam. This slice-of-life high school love story throws in supernatural elements for some unexpected romance. Slim on choices and full of humor ChronoClock isn’t going to make you cry or swoon but it might make you smile.
Protagonist Rei Sawatari is the rich heir to the Sawatari Corporation and a complete virgin. He also has a magical pocket watch that allows him to go back in time five minutes once every hour. He uses this small power to practice asking out the cute girls at his school and then go back in time like nothing happened. When a girl gets in a fatal accident while confessing her love to his best friend, he starts using the pocket watch to help others and find love for real along the way.
ChronoClock was originally created in Japanese and features Japanese voice acting with English subtitles.The voice acting is good and the British-English translation, using terms like “toss” and “chap” frequently, is also done well. While you won’t find any Engrish or confusing sentences like you might in other translated Japanese VN’s there are still some occasional syntax errors that will make you read dialogue over twice.
The music isn’t anything I’d want to listen to out of game, but it does capture the range of lighthearted, intense and romantic scenarios well. Tsukimori Hiro’s artwork is lovely and perhaps the best quality of the entire project. However, once in awhile the game will make a sudden change to chibi style artwork instead of the established anime/manga style. This may match some of the more comedic scenes but is still a bit jarring. A memory gallery lets you go back and view all the pretty CGs.
The story begins with a trite “my best friends girl” sort of premise but the protagonist is self-aware of all the cliches and the story expands into more interesting and unexpected territory from there. After a long but intriguing prologue, you’ll get to pursue the waifu of your choice. Choose between British otaku D.D. (who ironically has one of the smallest chest measurements), tough but old fashioned daughter of the Yakuza Makoto, tsundere underclassmen Misaki or your blind younger sister and traditional Japanese beauty Michiru (yes, there’s an incest plot). Two bonus relationships are also available for the diligent player: Miu, the clumsy girl who has a crush on your best friend and Kuro, the teenage girl version of the goddess Chronos (see image above).
Pursuing the girl of your dreams is mechanically quite simple. Some VN’s have a player fretting over every little choice, afraid they may alienate their one true love. In ChronoClock it’s very obvious who you are wooing with each decision and once that decision is made there’s nothing other than loading a save that will change it. This is mainly due to the fact that there aren’t many choices to make in this game. In fact, there’s only two.
The lack of choices makes this experience less of a visual novel game and more like four kinetic novels with a shared jumping off point. Your first choice isn’t presented until after a few chapters have been completed (nearly eight hours in on my first playthrough) and bluntly narrows down the dating pool of four girls down to two. The next and final choice readers get to make comes not long after the first and eliminates another of your potential girlfriends leaving you to develop a relationship with your chosen lady until the conclusion. There aren’t any consequences to your choices other than eliminating potential love interests. You’ll never need to use that handy pocket watch to get out of offending your girl, and you couldn't even if you wanted to.
The time rewinding pocket watch that is so pivotal in the ChronoClock pitch is never part of a decision that the player can make. This was a revelation that was surprising and a bit disappointing. The ability to go back in time could easily be used to get intimate with a girl you fancy only to rewind time and remain faithful to your first choice. Sure that’s cheating but this is an 18+ visual novel about a high schooler trying to get a girlfriend, a little licentious wish fulfillment is not only desired, it’s expected. Instead, the pocket watch is used as a metaphor for expressing true love, as the protagonist gradually begins using the device to better the life of another instead of himself.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t earn its 18+ rating. There is some nudity(though not in all storylines), a lot of sexual innuendos that will bring on the blush and plenty of cleavage and panty shots. However, this VN is pretty tame overall. The titillation comes more from what the novel makes the reader think about than what actually happens on screen and despite all the randy innuendos there are many innocent moments like a first kiss or hand holding that can still seem sweet.
Apparently, the original version of the game includes steamy Omake H-scenes that can be unlocked after finishing a particular storyline, but that was too much for Steam. The Steam version does not include these more explicit scenes. As there is no patch or setting to get the full mature content for the game on Steam, players looking for that can get the full uncensored version of the game on Nutaku (Affiliate).
In the end, ChronoClock is a traditional high school romcom anime/manga plot in which raunchy jokes and embarrassing mistakes lead to sweet and innocent confessions of young love. Yet, the time-bending plot device can sometimes lead to interesting twists in the otherwise predictable plots. Don’t expect the feels (even below the belt) when it comes to this game, but it does have a certain comedic charm with fun characters. The lack of choices makes it a much more passive experience and the lack of mature content on Steam is disappointing. Altogether, the writing and well-executed translation combined with the excellent art make ChronoClock a worthwhile read.
ChronoClock was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available in an uncensored state on Nutaku (Affiliate).
ChronoClock is an amusing high school rom-com visual novel elevated by well-translated writing and great art. The lack of choices make it a less engaging experience though and the removed adult content in the Steam version is unfortunate.(Review Policy)
- Great Art
- Well Translated
- Good Writing
- Lack of Choice
- Removed Adult Content