Julian Gollop might be returning to strategic and tactical extraterrestrial combat with Phoenix Point, but the designer of the original X-COM has already rebooted one of his creations from yesteryear. Chaos Reborn [official site], based on 1985’s Chaos: The Battle of Wizards, is a game about lobbing spells at opposing mages, with an emphasis on summoning creatures to do turn-based battle. The game has been out of Early Access for a while but an update has just landed and it’s a big one: a new (optional) Law mode has been added, which removes most of the probability checks that are central to combat and casting.
In the traditional version of the game, spells and attacks have a probability of success, so every move is a gamble, with the odds known in advance. In Law mode, those probabilities are replaced, with mana costs, hit points and predictable outcomes taking their place. The actual deck of spells you take into combat will still be randomised, though with some rigging of the numbers permitted through use of gear that bumps up the likelihood of certain spells being selected.
I’ve long thought that the perfect tactical game wouldn’t use any random number generation at all (hi, Chess) but I enjoy variety enough to see the benefits of the occasional dice roll. Truth be told, I like the tension that a percentage chance to hit or survive provides in certain circumstances. A game that can support the roll of the dice and predictable outcomes, from one mode to another, could offer the best of both worlds, so I’m pleased to see Chaos Reborn attempting just that.
The reasoning behind the mode is best explained by Gollop himself:
“The new mode is entirely optional, but we added it for the benefit of those who prefer less random elements in their game play. It also adds an interesting alternative game style for our existing players. It is also an interesting experiment in comparative game design. By changing just a few rules a whole new game experience is possible.”
And this isn’t the end of Chaos:
“…we have released eight updates of the game since launch, including the recent addition of a flexible custom multiplayer games lobby that allows co-op and AI players. We always listen to feedback from players both old and new, and will continue to support the game on a regular basis. There is more Chaos to come.”
Chaos Reborn is currently £5.09, at 66% off in the Steam sale.