Turn-Based Gang Warfare: Streets Of Chaos

An alternate set of posters for Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac

Streets of Chaos [official site] is a turn-based strategy game in which you fight for control of a randomly generated city. The city is represented as a grid and to conquer it you’ll recruit gang members and send them out to perform missions on the various blocks, ranging from extortion and hacking to finger-clicking dance-offs. Or possibly violent combat with chains and baseball bats that you can choose to imagine as dance-offs should you be so inclined.

When I saw the Steam page, I was immediately reminded of an old favourite and, indeed, Streets of Chaos is “loosely inspired by the classic strategy PC game Chaos Overlords“.

Chaos Overlords isn’t a name to inspire fond reminiscence and homage in the way that many others do. It’s no UFO or Fallout. In fact, it’d probably fail the Kickstarter Test, which is a system I’ve just invented whereby the nostalgic qualities of a game can be measured by the amount of money it’d haul in during its first 24 hours on a crowdfunding platform. The fact that original designer John K Morris has been working on a sequel, irregularly, since 2006 suggests there’s a possibility that a Chaos Overlords Reborn campaign is a possibility – the game isn’t entirely forgotten – but Streets of Chaos might be the closest thing we see for a while.

It’s been out since the beginning of last year but just popped up on Steam for £1.99 and after a brief play this morning, I reckon I’ll get more enjoyment out of it than a couple of Greggs’ pasties. Memories of Chaos Overlords came flooding back as soon as I saw the map but Streets lacks one important element of the game that inspired it – the potato-headed portraits for your characters may allow for more variety, but they’re not a patch on the brilliant cartoon gangs of the original.

I don’t remember how well Chaos Overlords worked as a game but it used its theme effectively enough to stay in my mind for almost two decades. A little flavour goes a long way. If Chaos Overlords’ gangs were the delicious Flaming Hot variety of your crisp of choice, Streets of Chaos’ lumpen-headed chaps are the Ready Salted packet hanging limply behind the wall of a flat-roof boozer.

Despite that, I’ll still end up sinking another couple of hours into it tonight, no doubt, because I want to see how the mechanics hang together. And I mean the strategic systems rather than the T-Birds. No more dance-offs.

Streets of Chaos is available now, as is a demo, and and Chaos Overlords is available at GOG.com. The latter isn’t supported on Win 8 and the former is cheaper through Steam than its own website.

11 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    Some top class scowling there.

    • Morph says:

      Scowling or… umm…. well what the alt-text implies.

      • Geebs says:

        Clockwise from top right:

        when you’re a hummer
        today is the greatest
        who wants some honey?
        rat in a cage

  2. Cross says:

    It’s a shame the game looks like such utter shite, because it gives off a first impression you’d expect of Earth: Year 2066 or Air Control. Even if there’s a great game underneath, few will find out because the ramshackle aesthetics makes it look like a 7 day chopped together hack.

  3. Bull0 says:

    In addition to the finger-clicking dance-offs I’d like to see breakdancing throwdowns, “yo mama” contests, and various community-centre-destruction-averting fundraising exercises. Also, my gang would have to be one of those multi-racial TV gangs for full effect.

  4. mark.barbara says:

    The only turn-based, gang combat I want to know about is Necromunda.

    Please, Cthulu make that happen.

  5. Arathain says:

    Man, Chaos Overlords was great. So many amazing gangs. The clowns stick out in my memory. Lousy stats, except that they could heal themselves entirely in a turn, meaning they were basically impossible to kill as long as you did nothing but heal up. They couldn’t do anything, but you couldn’t get rid of them.

    I remember you could research all sorts of weapons, and there’d be a combat animation for each of them. Gangs that could research and wield the top end stuff like plasma accelerators were in high demand.

    • Haborym says:

      That’s why you had to off them in one turn. They can’t heal if they’re dead.

      I kinda really liked this game when I first played it. It got boring after a while though since I had no one to play it against.

  6. strangeloup says:

    Rather weirdly, buying Chaos Overlords will currently cost you twice as much as this.

    The general concept reminds me a great deal of a play-by-mail game called It’s A Crime, which, it turns out, is actually still going.

    • frightlever says:

      THIS!

      I was going to say EXACTLY that.

      Played that for ages back in the… early 90s? Months of epic struggle against The Moondogs in my corner of the map.

  7. Crabtipus says:

    I liked Chaos Lords and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw those faces