Imagine a cross between Final Fantasy X and cult Japanese thriller Battle Royale. Now imagine it being developed by Square Enix. Exclusively for Apple.
Chaos Rings is a turn-based RPG with a novel plot and some of the best graphics seen on the iPhone – plus it’s just dropped in price. Here’s our review.
Title: Chaos Rings
Platform: iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Price: £7.49 (cut to £5.99 for a limited time)
Release Date: Out now
Reviewer: Dom Sacco
Our heroes – five couples consisting of one man and one woman each – are thrust into a futuristic coliseum with no recollection of how they got there. It’s all very Cube, I know.
The duos are given the task of fighting each other to the death, with the incentive of leveling up between each battle to gain strength. With the promise of eternal life given to the last pair standing, it suddenly becomes a serious survival of the fittest. All very Battle Royale, I know.
Despite Square Enix’s penchant for nicking ideas from cult movies, the Final Fantasy developer is actually onto a winner here.
Chaos Rings is a highly enjoyable story-driven, turn-based RPG with random fights. These are broken up nicely with room puzzles – perfectly suited to the iPhone, along with some nice customisation options.
You can obtain ‘genes’ by killing enemies, and use them to learn new attacks and boost your stats. For example, killing a giant two-headed tiger may cause you to learn ‘tiger genes’, increasing your attack damage and giving you fire magic. Other genes can give you the auto-counter ability and water magic resistance, for sake of balance.
Your characters can attach up to three genes each at any one time, but bear in mind there are more than ten gene types to consider. What makes Chaos Rings great is the tactical decisions you’ll make to perfect your couple as a whole. Making one a warrior and one a mage isn’t always enough – you’ll need to use your genes to make them complement one another in order to transform them into an unstoppable fighting team.
If I’ve made the game sound confusing – be assured it isn’t. In fact, this is one of the most welcome levelling up systems produced by Square Enix. It’s easy to understand, fun to play and addictive. Plus the game isn’t too long at around 10 hours per couple.
The storyline is engrossing. It’s cool to see how some couples embrace the deadly fighting environment, how others fear it and question it, and those who oppose it entirely. What’s also great in terms of replay value is that you can play through as four separate couples and experience the game in an alternate way.
Play as Escher and Musiea for example and they have no idea why they’ve been put together – they openly despise each other. Escher is a male thief blinded by the promise of eternal life and Musiea is a female nurse who doesn’t want to fight at all. Play as Indian tribe warriors Eluca and Zhamo however, and in your game Escher and Musiea will be in love with one another… it’s a great mystery that begins to unravel the more you play it.
Thankfully there aren’t any spiky-haired emos to be seen. OK, there’s some weird hair and a couple of whiny types – but that’s to be expected from a Square Enix RPG, right? Anyway they soon toughen up thanks to the kill-or-be-killed environment.
Chaos Rings is also one of those games that keeps going just when you think it’s about to end – twice. It does this in a good way however – you always want to know what’s next for the couple you’ve selected, and find out why they where sent to the arena in the first place.
To unlock to true final mission, bosses and ending, you’re going to have to finish the game with all four couples. Beyond that, there’s one last ultra-hard monster to discover in order to reach the epic ‘108% complete’ status.
Don’t forget this is an iPhone game. On top of the frankly incredible 3D graphics, sublime storyline and Square Enix’s classic RPG and explorative gameplay, it’s a bargain at £7.49 (as I type it’s actually on sale for £5.99) – so there really is no excuse not to play it.
Essential to any Final Fantasy follower, RPG fan or iPhone/iPad gamer, Chaos Rings is one of the best adventures to be found on a portable device right now. You won’t be disappointed.
Pros: Engrossing story, classic turn-based RPG gameplay, plenty of replay value, looks great
Cons: Drains your battery, playing through as other couples can be repetitive
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.