Review: Page Chronica
Page Chronica is a game about the adventure of a female heroine named Topez. As a librarian in the Library of Dreams, she accidentally released the Lord of Nightmares from his prison. The Lord of Nightmare then went on to corrupt the dreams turning them foul. Players will play as Topez as she uses her power of words to cleanse the dreams of this corruption. Page Chronica is not your average side-scrolling action plat-former. You will need to slow time to capture letters and form meaningful words in order to give Topez power to cast spells. The stronger the words formed, the more powerful the spells that Topez cast will be. In addition, she will be able to gain useful passive abilities such as regeneration and increased movement speed based upon the length of the words formed.
The game contains eighteen stages and twenty four challenges distributed over four stories. Each story ends with an action packed boss fight where you will have to fight a multi-stage enemy creature. The first three stories are inspired by popular Fairy Tales namely, Piped Piper, Jack and The Bean Stalk, and Hansel and Gratel. The last story takes place in the Infinite Library of Dreams where the Lord of Nightmare makes a final attempt to take over all dreams.
This is the first game to be brought to PlayStation Network via some Indie dev’s in Singapore. Aided with Sony they look to change the platforming genre and even try and create their own one.
The game is in essence a very basic platforming game with a word creating addition. You make words as fast as you can, usually trying to add the highlighted letters for bonus unlocks and power up your arsenal. Creating words not only grant you spells to use to kill bad guys but also give you the ability to double jump. Sounds good, but I find the letters floating in the background just a little bit too intrusive and could do with being in the background a bit more. You will have to keep an eye on your powers meter as you may need a double jump and find it wont work! That’s just a few of the problems dogging this game. For as previously touched upon, the platforming is very basic. Yes the visuals are charming and nice but the overall game play is really ancient in both execution and delivery.
The enemies look very much like you can jump on them, you cannot, you can shoot them by all means but touching one not only damages you, but also pushes you back. When your doing a jump from platform to platform, an enemy hitting you can feel like a really cheap death. The levels themselves are not particularly long or confusing. You can go multiple ways on some to try and hunt down feathers needed to unlock trial events. The game also has the thing where if you move on a screen then go back, all the enemies will re spawn. Couple this information with the fact that you also get a 10 minute timer on levels, and you have yourself a mess. The game encourages you to try and sniff out the feathers and also the music Cd’s to unlock bonus tunes, but restrict you by imposing the time constraint. The timer can be reset upon death but to be honest, you don’t want to die just so you can have more time do you?
Creating words is a nice idea and one that first drew me to this game. I like developers who try to add something new or create a unique experience, But the timer continues to roll down as you create words, certain words are hit and miss if they work, the letters randomness are just that random with sometimes little chance of making any decent words. Create a word not recognised and you will get an error, get 3 and you lose all magical powers and must create words again to build yourself back up. When you use the shiny letters its gives you more of a boost and also puts that letter in its place in the bottom of the screen. The line at the bottom eventually makes a word and grants you massive power boosts.
You can still get by playing the game as a plat-former with occasional Countdown style moments. Boss fights though will destroy any bit of love you had for the game. They are brutal. For a start you get no help on how to hit them or where their weakness is. They have much stronger attacks and can kill you pretty quickly. The first boss alone took me over 2 hours to beat. I nearly lost my pad and TV at one point. Oh and the boss also has its own level timer, but this time it ain’t no 10 minutes. I think its half that if memory serves correct.
For all the good points and bad points, I really wanted to enjoy this game. It just seems to need a bit more polishing. Maybe make the boss fights easier, make the letters less obtrusive and for the love of god get rid of the timers. Maybe expand the levels more and just generally finish up the visuals. I will always try to go back to the game as I see it and instantly I feel drawn to it. You could say its the Dark Souls of platforming games, but that would be unfair as in Dark Souls all deaths are your own fault, where as in this its not. It does do co-op but again its offline only and the second player is just a sheep who doesnt really do a lot except try and protect you. A decent big patch and you could well salvage a great game. I like the word creating stuff as its something different. It forces me to learn new words but truth be told I just try to make swear words, and yes some of them do work!