Developer – Purple Software
Publisher – Sekai Project and Denpasoft
Length – 10-30 Hours
[A Review copy was kindly provided by Sekai Project]
[Sekai Project has had no input into the content of this review]
I have to admit that i’m fairly dismissive of visual novels that lean more towards the pornographic than those with substance, but every so often even I can appreciate a title where story takes a back seat. Chrono Clock is very nearly a pure romance comedy with a few slight twists to keep things interesting and I have to say that I found it to be greatly entertaining. It’s the kind of novel that allows you to sit back and enjoy time spent with a variety of fun characters which, to be honest, was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.
Sawatari Rei is the next in line to succeed the Sawatari Corporation, a massive company forged from the ground up by his grandfather, and Rei has managed to discover the secret to his success. An ordinary-looking pocket watch…with the ability to turn back time for five minutes once every hour when broken. Rei, however, has no real interest in the future awaiting him and instead plans to use the watch to his advantage in other important endeavors. Like finding a girlfriend, for instance.
Though the premise is interesting I implore you to not mistake Chrono Clock for a narrative-driven experience. It’s a harem romance comedy and a good one at that, though not a novel that will have a dramatic effect on your world view or life as you know it. The comedy is a major aspect and frequently hilarious, tempering extended slice of life sequences, while the rest of your enjoyment can be derived from the protagonist’s relationships with a variety of very likeable heroines. That all said, the best routes are the ones with at least a little of the supernatural in their plot (two of the four initially available) and the true route available at the end brings the others together in a uniquely fun way. Unfortunately, though the more intriguing plot devices enrich the routes they feature in, they’re not often used to their full potential and their endings feel relatively rushed when held up against more plot-focused productions.
Of course, in a HaRomCom (no, I don’t think that name will catch on…) the most important aspect of all is the cast of characters and I found that, for the most part, I really liked Chrono Clock’s. While “character development” isn’t the phrase of the day, I never found myself bored during the experience and that was largely due to the, dare I say, loveable group of girls in the spotlight (excepting perhaps the “fucking weeaboo”, which is a direct quote from the VN’s protagonist). Stereotypes abound though each has a splash of originality that means they feel human enough to be endearing, and it’s a fact that I was reluctant to say goodbye at the end of it all.
Naturally I have to touch on the localization effort and for once I am incredibly torn with regards to that very aspect. On the one hand the general translation is incredibly good with several additives like a healthy helping of comedic and creatively-used curse words going a surprisingly long way to improving the experience, while on the other…well. The translator has tried to make use of the often hated Japanese writing technique of specific habits to differentiate character speech patterns, though the odd thing about it is that they’ve been added where they didn’t exist in the original Japanese. The weeaboo character mentioned earlier happens to be British, and for me the frequent sentence-ender “luv” doesn’t fit her particularly well and simply isn’t necessary. The replacement of English words with Japanese ones is the fault of the original Japanese, so i’ll let that slide (even if I wonder whether most English readers would be able to understand the sentences where it occurs), but the replacement of normal English with rare British colloquialisms didn’t fit particularly well either, and made liking the character difficult.
Believe it or not, the most exciting part of the review is here. That’s right, i’m now going to talk about the user interface! It’s been a long time since i’ve broken down scores into specific components but Chrono Clock gets a definite 11/10 for its UI. Multiple text box configurations, fully customisable swipe commands which allow me to save or open the options (or even hide whichever questionable CG is current on the screen) with a simple motion of the mouse…a plethora of unique features make Chrono Clock stand out in a surprising way, and though I didn’t even know they existed beforehand I hope more VNs adopt them. The visuals at a base level are also very pleasant and modern-feeling, though the character designs might take a while to get used to, and I absolutely adored the rare but immersive method of having features of the background move to make a scene feel that much more real. Things as simple as waves coming in on a beach or objects moving past train windows make a big enough difference that I also hope we start to see more novels pick up their game in that regard. I always struggle with what to say about sound tracks, though in this case I can say that I enjoyed Chrono Clock’s enough that I plan to seek out the downloadable version to add to my meagre BGM collection.
Summary – Chrono Clock is a good harem romance comedy. Period. If you’re a fan of the genre or just looking for a fun way to relax then it’s an easy recommendation due to its loveable cast and splash of supernatural plot. While I have some complaints regarding the translation, it’s generally excellent and other fantastic technical aspects, like a remarkable user interface and genuinely pleasant visual style, overshadow any significant problems in that department. If I were ever going to re-read a predominantly slice of life novel then Chrono Clock would be a top candidate.
Score: 8/10 – Good