By Chris Picone, 01 June 2023
Chronicles of 2 Heroes is a retro platformer with some Metroidvania elements. That is to say that you do unlock new abilities as you progress, and the abilities do allow you to access new areas, but that the progression is more or less linear. The temple exists as a safe space between each of the game's zones, and there's a teleporter inside so you can always return to old areas to replay them and pick up anything you might have missed.
The pixel art's quite nice, particularly the backgrounds and characters, the temple is gorgeous, and the animations are also pretty decent. Otherwise, the majority of the game is presented like an old-school platformer, primarily functional, and the UI's pretty spartan - grey dialogue boxes, although the pixel font and profile pictures are nice. The mix of styles does occasionally clash a little bit and sometimes the characters don't quite look like they're part of the world - and the UI could definitely use a bit of an upgrade - but these quibbles are all very minor and overall I'd say it's quite a good looking game. In terms of gameplay, it plays like a metroidvania even though the progression is linear. You'll spend most of your time navigating the landscape, dodging traps and killing baddies, trying to find secrets and unlock new abilities as you progress from boss to boss. One cool feature in the game is that you control two characters simultaneously, switching between the two at the push of a button. One character can jump and shoot, the other can dash and melee, and they both gain ability upgrades as you progress. In some areas this cool feature is under-utilised because you just jump to a platform then switch to dash across an area and it's just adding an extra button. But in other areas there are time pressures or enemies attacking or some combination that means you need to master switching and using each ability efficiently to progress, and when that happens it really does add to the game. It also adds an extra challenge to the boss fights, which is neat. It's a feature that works well overall but could use just a touch more polish.
The verdict? While Chronicles of 2 Heroes could use a little more polish, the overall experience is excellent. If you're into platformers you'll probably enjoy this but really I want to recommend Chronicles to Metroidvania fans. I'm a few hours in already and nowhere near done with it.