Stop Time, Fix the World in Indie Game 'Chronology'

Credit: Osao GamesCredit: Osao Games

SAN FRANCISCO — An elderly inventor awakens in a post-apocalyptic jungle. He doesn't remember how the Earth got this way, but he has a terrible feeling it may be his fault.

That's the premise of "Chronology," an indie platform-puzzler game on display at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) here this week. The game will be released on the Steam online gaming platform and for mobile devices this summer for between $5.99 and $7.99, according to developers at Denmark-based Osao Games.

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In "Chronology," the amnesiac inventor pairs up with a talking snail, and players must figure out how to use the two characters' unique powers to control time and traverse the two-dimensional platform-style levels.

We played a demo of the game at GDC. The game was running on a Microsoft Surface Tablet connected to an Xbox controller. Players can control both the inventor and the snail, switching between the two by pressing the left and right bumpers on the controller.

The inventor can shift forward and backward in time, to before and after the cataclysm. The snail can stop time entirely. These combined mechanics create a game that feels similar to "The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons" and "Braid." Osao Games compared "Chronology" to the games "Day of the Tentacle" and "Lost Vikings." 

Aside from the typical jumping and puzzle-solving of the platformer genre, "Chronology" also has some elements similar to point-and-click adventure games. At one point, we had to bypass a guard by jumping onto a platform with a bucket, filling the bucket with cement and pouring the cement into the guard's gun.

Though it's now back on schedule, "Chronology's" time was almost up before the clock even started. Last winter, the game was approved through Steam Greenlight, the process by which the Steam community votes on new games to be admitted to its collection. But then Osao's parent company, Progressive Media, went bankrupt.

However, Osao was able to continue on its own. "We managed to rescue it," said Henrik Lunardi Weide, a programmer on "Chronology."

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