Julian “Mr X-COM” Gollop’s Chaos Reborn Is Out Now

Just a PSA, as we already mentioned this a few weeks before it happened: Chaos Reborn [official site], the successfully Kickstarted remake of/sequel to classic Spectrum wizard-bothering strategy/bluffing game Chaos, has left Early Access and gotten a full Steam release. Much as I can’t help but include “OMG made by the guy who invented X-COM” excitements in any coverage, I really should stress that Chaos Reborn is a clever and tense game of magical battles in its own right.

Haven’t had the chance to the gun up the release build yet, but I’ve dipped in and out during the Early Access period and been pleased to see that it made rapid and significant progress. Its ethereal (no pun intended) art style is now far more ornate, there’s a rudimentary but robust singleplayer campaign mode in there, and all the avatar customisation/loot stuff is now all seemingly present and correct.

Multiplayer is where it’s really at, though. This is a game about out-thinking your opponent, second-guessing their plans and their spells, and ideally fooling them into squandering their turns either on fighting fake creatures you’ve summoned, or on declaring creatures that are, in fact, real as fakes. As much as it’s a game about turn-based wizard wars, Chaos Reborn also has a poker quality to it.

I suspect it’s fair to say that it’s too unusual a proposition to be a smash hit – and indeed, the original Chaos tends to attract ‘cult classic’ prefixes rather than ‘hardware-flogging triple-platinum record-breaker’ – hopefully it can pick up a devoted audience who can ensure it’s easy to get into a civil but thoughtful battle of magical wits.

Chaos Reborn was released yesterday for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is currently on sale for £12.74 with 15% off. Time permitting I’ll wander back in soon to check out the most recent features and whatnot.


  1. OmNomNom says:

    The main problem in recent months was finding people to play with, hopefully the release will change things as I’ve loved this since I was a wee lad (on the ZX Spectrum version)

  2. trn says:

    Speaking only for myself, I did play a fair bit in Jan / Feb this year – but was put off by two factors: 1) the small community of dedicated regulars who kept kicking my ar$e and, 2) the frequent updates which I was unable to keep on top of, and which contributed to point 1).

    Curious to revisit, however.

  3. Themadcow says:

    The original Chaos was an exceptional multilayer game without the need for online. However, as hotseat is a lot harder now spells are displayed on the screen I ended up buying a 2nd copy for my wife’s PC instead. Haven’t played it for a few months so looking forward to seeing how it’s developed.

  4. basilisk says:

    The singleplayer mode is not quite there yet in my opinion; it’s going for a HOMM kind of thing, but I didn’t find it much fun, to be honest. But SP really isn’t what the game is about.

    I find the latest iteration of visual style much more problematic. It’s way too busy now and sometimes it can be really hard to read what’s going on, particularly if someone goes a bit wild with the tree/vine spells and covers the board with tons of stuff. I wish there was a way to switch to a more simplified/stylised mode.

    • klops says:

      I don’t think the singleplayer ever will be right there. Like Meer said: “Multiplayer is where it’s really at”

  5. klops says:

    It’s very good. Play it!

  6. Steven Hutton says:

    More like Random reborn.

    • Winged Nazgul says:

      Um…that’s kind of the whole point. You might want to look up a definition of chaos somewhere if you don’t believe it.

  7. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I keep forgetting that this is a remake of Chaos, and not Lords of Chaos, and getting disappointed again when I look at its progress.

  8. Jay Load says:

    So…can you fire up an arena and have a scrap with up to 7 AI wizards?

    I wouldn’t need a funcy “singleplayer mode” if it included the gameplay magic of the original game.

    • PixelsAtDawn says:

      Don’t scrap with 7 AIs – you’ll just get a Magic Bolt in the face on Turn 1 because of the oversight on the way the wizards are spaced out on a 4:3 resolution :) :)

      • Jay Load says:

        Pfft. Easily dealt with.

        1) If you start first, create a creature to block any missile attacks from the most likely direction (usually below)

        2) The chances of any wizard deploying a missile attack turn 1 are fairly slim.

        3) You might survive it anyway. Magic bolt ain’t all that.

        • PixelsAtDawn says:

          Assuming the culprit doesn’t come before you in the turn order.

          Don’t worry, I’ve played a million 8 player games, and it doesn’t always end in tragedy. Especially if you’re playing a human and they’re close enough to physically retaliate.

  9. PixelsAtDawn says:

    Really looking forward to playing this again now it’s hit 1.0. As a means to celebrate, I sat down and played a game of the original for my YouTube channel. Still as much fun as when I was a teenager!

  10. Caiman says:

    Steam tells me I’ve put 204 hours into this game, and compared with some of my friends who are closer to 1,000 hours, that doesn’t seem like much. Of course that’s from all the time I had to play in Early Access, and it’s just gotten better since then. Frankly I think the single player is great, mainly for the hand-crafted realms which are being created, including by the players who are putting a lot of effort into it. Multiplayer, though, is like a drug. I can’t stop playing it. Worth mentioning that you can play matches asynchronously, and having 20 on the go at once is quite the experience.

  11. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I’d really like to take a look at this game but the fact that the gameplay is all based on percentages really turns me off. I despise Risk for this same reason. XCOM was the same. “Oh look you missed now your entire team is dead LOL”

    • Cleave says:

      You do have the option to cheat in this one though. You can cast your creatures as illusions which are guaranteed to succeed and are fully functional units. You can disbelieve any of the opponent’s units which will destroy them if they are illusions but you can’t cast another spell that turn so you don’t want to waste turns disbelieving real units.

      • Caiman says:

        You can also influence outcome chances by tactical play; you can boost spell success chances by up to 25% using mana that you accumulate in various ways, and you can further influence the state of the universe to make lawful or alternatively chaotic spells easier / harder to cast. Mastering and understanding the risk of any action is the appeal of this game, and it lends it enormous replayability (I played the original for 30 years, so far I’ve put 200 hours into this), although this is far more sophisticated and tactically deep than the original ever was.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I like having chance in a game. Having the occasional swear at the RNG is better than having a hubristic strategy game that thinks it’s the new chess but is really about finding where the unbalances bits are. Ultimately you know it’s your own fault because you didn’t play the percentages. The strategy is in not putting yourself into a situation where if one thing goes against you, you can be screwed.

  12. TΛPETRVE says:

    Been in love with the game since the beginning, even though I am not particularly good at it. But combat feels redonkersly satisfying; there is a very strong tabletop vibe to this game, without feeling as dry and utilitarian as many other attempts at virtual board games as of late. Everything is just nicely tight, condensed, and focused.

  13. anjovi says:

    Just played a good amount of single player last night….If you want the closest thing that your going to get to DarkSouls meets Xcom, you should give this a try!

    You plop into a realm and you have to kill the king to win the realm and take all of the treasures that you’ve gathered their. You have a strategy layer that looks like HOMM but is nothing like it. It’s more like an adventure board game were you run into encounters (quality depends on who’s making the realm) and you recruit villages, mercanaries and destroy/control strategic points to mitigate the difficulty…It is very much like dark souls in this regard.

    I was having a bad run in the realm so i was constantly requesting allies for the most basic of fights. When playing this i found the coop in the game to be a hell of a good time. Most folks i was playing with felt the same but couldn’t quite put their finger on why. It personally makes me think of what xcom would be like if you had a coop squad with a friend. Your coordinating your units, really being careful to create back up plans because you never know what that dice roll will give you (i love the tension this causes in this game)

    Overall i think the singleplayer’s strength lies in the community, hopefully the updates expanding the social aspect of the game will really hone in on this.

    I for one have bought an extra copy of this to play with my long distance pals.

    • anjovi says:

      I just wanted to add: I think the biggest selling point of this game is that the game system is sort of geared towards giving you that tactical depth in a small time frame.

      You don’t have to play for hours and hours at a time to get a good tactical turn base kick anymore! :D

    • TΛPETRVE says:

      The [i]Dark Souls[/i] comparison are more apt than one might think; the entire ally/invasion mechanic and the upcoming guild system (covenants, eh) are very soulsy in nature.

    • Slaadfax says:

      The words “Dark Souls” and “XCOM” make my brain do whooshy/happy things.

  14. Snids says:

    Good job Gollop. Now please join Firaxis.