iPhone Review: Chaos Rings

Written by Joe Martin

June 4, 2010 | 10:59

Tags: #iphone #iphone-review #jrpg #rpg

Companies: #apple #square-enix

Square Enix has been one of the best major publishers on the iPhone, bringing some solid ports of the early Final Fantasy games, as well as some more original games exclusive to the iPhone. Chaos Rings sits neatly between those two ideas; since it’s basically a Final Fantasy game exclusive to the iPhone.

Well, OK, it’s not technically a Final Fantasy game – it’s lacking the FF prefix and there’s probably all sorts of smaller stylistic changes I’m not familiar with, but as far as a layman is concerned it’s basically the same. It’s stuffed with random encounters, old-school turn-based combat and characters with strange names, stupid hair and a penchant for muttering to themselves like old alcoholics.

Crucially too, while the boiled down description of ‘it’s just Final Fantasy on the iPhone” may sound like a bad thing, in reality it really, really isn’t. Chaos Rings is actually quite brilliant.
iPhone Review: Chaos Rings Iphone Review: Chaos Rings
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The story for the game focuses on a group of warriors who have been kidnapped from their homelands and transported to a mysterious arena governed by a spectral force who wants to see them fight to the death. Some simple rules are imposed – no fighting in the lobby, players must try to collect special Chaos Rings, you don’t talk about Fight Club – and it’s all incentivised by the promise that the last man standing will be made immortal. Simple and to the point.

The characters themselves are a predictable lot at the start of the adventure; there’s a strong, silent warrior, a fierce and independent woman, a servant with hidden strengths and so on, but the actual reasons for why the characters have been chosen is a mystery. Unravelling the stories behind each pair of characters is what really drags you through the game and the longer you play the more you learn and the more interesting the game becomes - though many of the twists are predictable and trite, it has to be said.

Beyond the story, there’s not going to be much here that’ll shock anyone who’s played a JRPG before – you wander around the world, exploring dungeons and suffering random monster encounters and so on, with story sequences punctuating each new area. Combat is turn based and made deeper by a ‘Gene system’ that lets you, for some reason, emulate any abilities you’re lucky enough to learn from your foes. There’s an ‘Element System’ that piggy backs onto this quite nicely too, using the three Elements of Blaze, Gale and Aqua. Casting some spells will change the element you’re aligned with, making you weaker to some attacks and more resilient to others in coming turns.

iPhone Review: Chaos Rings Iphone Review: Chaos Rings
Click to enlarge

Straightforward puzzle rooms are dotted around some of the dungeons to help provide a change of pace too, mostly block-sliding challenges which won’t slow you down for more than a minute. Still, they do make a pleasant break from the constant random encounters.

Chaos Rings' biggest strength though is the sheer amount of content it contains, with multiple campaigns on offer and the option to revisit previously completed dungeons at later levels for better loot. It looks pretty damn good for an iPhone game too, though that comes with the downside that most areas are broken up into tiny segments that make navigating the maze-like environments a bit of a chore.

Verdict: Chaos Rings isn’t going to be for everyone, as the JRPG format means it’s often a bit bizarre (collecting Chocolate from treasure chests to heal 1000 HP, what?), but for anyone who’s enjoyed Final Fantasy in the past, Chaos Rings is a must have. We just wish it were a bit cheaper, as it still feels a bit dear despite the quality and quantity of the content.

Chaos Rings is available on the AppStore now for $12.99 / £7.49
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