*A Review code was provided by the publisher.
ChronoClock follows Rei Sawatari, heir to the Sawatari Cooperation which was founded by his grandfather. Rei has one heirloom from said grandfather, a pocket watch that when smashed will turn back time by 5 minutes. Rei keeps his memories but other than that everything reverts back. The watch takes 1 hour to repair itself so he can’t just keep smashing it to go back further. Naturally, as a rich teenager Rei decides to use this watch to have fun and screw around until one day a girl falls off the roof and dies right in front of him. This girl ends up being Miu Suzuki, a poor genius girl that has skipped grades in order to be here. She also happens to be a klutz and fell off the roof while confessing to Rei’s best friend, Shuuji Ishida. After turning back time Rei decides to help her out which spans the prologue as well as works to introduce the actual heroines to us.
ChronoClock has 4 routes with 2 bonus routes. The main routes are occupied by Michiru Sawatari, Rei’s blind sister that has a crush on him so bad it’s to the point of publicly offering him sex, Makoto Jounouchi, a classmate of Rei’s who is secretly (although Rei finds out pretty early on) the daughter of a Yakuza family, D.D. (Dorothy Davenport) a British girl who came to Japan to meet Rei. I turns out their grandparents decided they’ll merry each other and Misaki Andou, the daughter of the Andou Cooperation which seems to be rivals with Sawatari and plays the violin. She is Rei’s underclassman and friends with Michiru and Miu. The two bonus routes belong to Cro, a spirit the inhabits Rei’s watch and spends any time she’s not with Rei riding the city’s monorail and Miu.
The characters lead me to my first and biggest problem. I was really looking forward to some of these routes. The kids of the big rival companies dating? Makoto’s family situation? An otaku from the western world that is already engaged with Rei? The children of a big company having an incestuous relationship? These, while certainly not unique, really interested me, especially with how much I was enjoying the prologue and common routes. Once getting into their routes I found myself very disappointed. Makoto’s route has her finding another watch that allows her to teleport and disguise herself as others, Misaki’s is about a violin recital, Michiru’s has the watch glitch up and bring a young Michiru into their lives and D.D.’s is… screwing around for 5 of her 7 chapters then dropping a major dramatic bombshell that gets resolved in about 30 minutes of reading?
This wouldn’t be a problem if the routes were well written but I really didn’t find them to be. I skipped Michiru’s route because I was bored at chapter 2 of 9 thinking it was already dragging on so I can’t comment there but D.D.’s and Makoto’s routes both have quite a bit of filler before quickly resolving the main conflict in under and hour which really sucks as those two were my favourite from the start. Misaki’s route is all about the violin recital and we don’t even get to see it with the one CG we do get just having her in her school uniform instead of some fancy dress which was a big disappointment.
An interesting move that I can’t comment on is the H-scenes don’t actually happen during the character’s route but are little bonus scenes you can access from the menu after completing a character’s route. This is nice for people like me who read it on Steam that don’t witness a fade to black suddenly and feel like they’re missing something (sometimes character development does happen during these scenes). A complaint I do have specifically about the Steam release is how the spots in the CG gallery for the H-scenes weren’t removed so there’s just some empty spots in character’s routes that I’ve completed. This isn’t a big deal at all.
Visually I have no complaints. The character designs are all nice and the sprites are expressive. There were a few moments that seemed weird to not get CG but that’s not big deal. Something I don’t normally talk about with visual novels is UI customization but I really liked what we had here. You can keep the text box like your standard VN at the bottom of the screen or you can have it so it moves to be under the character’s sprite (or face in CG) as well as alter the individual colour of each character’s text with defaults having some relation to said character (most amusing is Miu’s being the colour of her panties but most match their hair colour). I feel like I’ve seen the later option in other visual novels I’ve read but they are usually just defaulted to white text and I never cared to play around.
The soundtrack is also really good with a number of songs getting stuck in my head. Each girl gets her own song that matches her character with D.D.’s being British inspired or Misaki’s having violins for example. Voice acting is also really good. Some standouts are how Ichigo Momoi (D.D.’s seiyuu) says “wot” almost sounds like she’s attempting a British accent and Ai Fukada’s (Miu) entire presence.
My final issue is the lack of choices. You basically have 3, the first only has one option at first but this is how you get to Miu’s route once you unlock it. The second splits your route between either a choice of Makoto and D.D. or Misaki and Michiru with the third being the route you go down. While I don’t mind the lack of bad ends I wish there was some areas we could choose to use the watch or choose to use information learned to alter the past. This could have added some replayability to common other than “skip to choosing which set of girls I hang out with”.