Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox
Review by odino
"American History AnneXed"
Kronolog is a rather unknown game. The publisher is well-known for other games but it seems this has slipped under the radar for most gamers. It is most likely because at the time, as well as now, has negative reviews. Mine is not different:
If you watch the introduction you will see some ridiculous plot about the Germans creating the first atom bomb and dumping it on Boston, then later claiming victory in World War II with the Americans surrendering and claiming North America as a new sector (thus The Nazi Paradox). According to the news, the only non-German alliance member is Japan and parts of Asia which does not even make sense since they were an Axis member in WWII. Nevertheless, the only OTHER non-axis around the world are resistance groups such as The Unknowns which you, as the intro says, are a member. As Mark Hoffman you work in an environmental company appropriately called Envirotek and you have managed to feed the Germans some toxic-eating bacteria and there are thus very keen on making business with you. You see, the seventy-five plus years of German rule have apparently destroyed the environment enough to threaten living conditions. There is no mention of any Germany tyranny but this problem and the sole focus is that apparently they are not ready to clean up the mess and The Unknowns need to act right now. Traveling in the area does not seem to be so bad and there is no indication that the world is dying. In a way these Nazis are almost kiddie Nazis, having replaced Hitler in the 50s. I think the last thing on people's mind when they hear Nazi is that they make a mess of the environment.
When you finally get over this lame story you will actually have the events that occur during the game. Naturally I cannot give away too many spoilers but you are summoned to the proconsul fearing the worst only to be given some crappy CD of the Reich's anniversary. From then on you plan your underground movements and somehow succeed getting around rather easily.
You are actually thrown into each location and cannot travel around much. This is already limited and feels way to linear. Your goal for each area is set and you do not actually know what to do. Trial and error is most of the game with only certain hints given by deaths, the PIM network (that is just far too awkward to use and too vague to apply quickly), and just randomly doing things will eventually lead you to the goal.
The controls first appear to be a neat point-and-click interface with only 4 actions (you hardly use talk thus making it even easier). However, talking is the worst part of the game. You actually have to click on several parts of the screen to get somewhere else Mark just will not budge. He gets stuck in scenery, does not walk to any action points automatically and what is worse that sometimes the walking has to be done under time pressure.
There is only a limited inventory screen and whereas it is realistic this also means that you have to make choices in taking items or discarding them if they have completed their use. Knowing if you still need and item is pure guessing. Sure you may think that the CDs are not necessary to keep around, but in adventure games you often have to make the craziest trades to get through the game and therefore people use the take anything you can approach. Without a walkthrough you might give up on this game just knowing you forgot to take an item earlier. In fact, without knowing what to do the game can be so frustrating that I would imagine most people do not play through even the first area.
Getting stuck and killed is not an adventure gamers dream, and luckily most games do not feature this for a long time now. When this game was released it was almost non-existent in games and it is so surprising to see that they would not adopt a friendly approach.
Many areas in the game are buggy. For example, at one point you have to unlock a lock with a key but if you exit this view and then return, the lock is locked again and your key is gone. Similarly, saving might often cause the game to go crazy, with either the input line zooming to the right or the game freezing with the hourglass icon sticking around. None of these are preventing you from completing the game as you should take advice from the manual and save often and on different slots, and I only had one memory crash so the game does work if you know to deal with these issues.
Let us end this section with a positive note, as some puzzles are actually make sense and use realistic solutions. No crazy trades and you will often find that items are used the way you might, or MacGyver at least. If only you would know more about the usefulness of the items through the game, it should really dump more items automatically if they are done for.
Easily the best part of the game. The graphics are nicely drawn with some digital effects thrown in here and there. The people might not look all realistic but it was pre-CD-ROM and the game is already mighty big with this and the digital audio. The locations all look nice and apart form the getting around issue you will probably enjoy finding new places. Items are sometimes hard to spot but it does not hurt to look around and find them. Some people have called it pixel hunting but for this game it would not be justified as pixel hunting can be extremely bad not the case here.
The game offers digital speech but the speech is so rare that you hardly think it is a good feature. And when it does appear it is so scratchy that you might not want to be so pleased. Blame it on old hardware, bad emulation (using DosBox for example) or just bad sound, the so hyped digital speech just is not as great as you expect. The sound overall is rather poor as there just is not much. The music does not exist past the introduction and the amount of times you get some sound effect almost makes it feel like Halley's comet occurs more frequently. I could easily play this game without sound but it such a shame because it makes it so boring. I feel the designers have spent more time on that digital speech engine, even giving a couple of guys on the toilets some lines, rather than improving the overall sound we expect from a game.
If you have seen pictures of this game you might be really interested and it was the same case for me, but it is just not enough to prevent the game being so flawed. I would think you are get fed up with just trying to get through the first area, and if not then you would disappointed with the sound and story. Unless you are die-hard adventure gamer I suggest you find better games.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/10
Game Release: Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox (US, 1993)
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