Chaos Rings review

Chaos Rings tells a tale of woe, pain and betrayal. Somewhere in all this the characters have to learn to trust each other, and perhaps even learn how to love. This might sound cliché, but Square Enix manages to make it all really interesting. The story, and characters found within Chaos Rings are the most interesting and intriguing I have come across for the iPhone, and perhaps I have to go back to Final Fantasy VII to find it’s equal.

img_0997There are four different storylines found within the game. Starting up you can either choose to play as warrior Eluca with her cohort Zhamo or the apparently dark Escher with a former victim of his menace as partner, Musica. I have used the Escher/Musica combo, and their clashing pasts makes for a really interesting story. There are five couples that have been tossed into a game of death. One of the pairs gets killed as there are rules to obey. Finding the chaos rings, and finding out how to escape the evil forcing them into the game are the goals in the game. The story feels somewhat like an Agatha Christie novel where the characters have to realise how they hurt and rebuild each other…or die.

img_1006The game is divided into several different segments. Starting off in the world you get to select enemy levels. The higher level, the more challenging enemies, and of course better rewards. Unlocked levels can be replayed to collect items, and do some grinding if that is what you fancy. Worth noting is that this is one of the few games where grinding isn’t necessary as you can select level of difficulty instead. It also gives the more experienced RPG gamer a more challenging experience playing against beasts on a higher level. With a virtual stick showing up where you put your finger you control the main character running across the land. Crystal teleports can be entered, and chests can be opened by tapping them or tapping the exclamation mark in the lower right corner. These controls work really well, and I seldom get stuck on anything in the scenery. Teleporting between the a physical, and a computer generated world gives a lot of variation…and confusion. The map is hard to understand, and I tend to do a lot of running in cicles finding my way around. Thankfully you can turn off random encounters, and that makes backtracking less stressfull. Then when in need of levelling up you can turn it back on again. I see this as a big plus, and coming from Square Enix it is definitely unexpected.

img_1003The turn based battle is the second gameplay segment. Here you get to choose either to make solo or pair attacks. Pair attacks are stronger, but leave you at risk of both your characters getting attacked by all of the enemies. You can either attack, defend, use an item or use a gene magic. These gene magical abilities are unlocked as you face, and kill new enemies. The characters learn different attacks, and it is important to understand what genes work against what. This gives the game an extra layer of strategy. An aspect I really like is the fact that there is a meter in the top left showing which side has the advantage. This helps a lot in making the decision to stand and fight, or run like a coward.

img_0999The third segment is the puzzles where you either get to play teleport puzzles or slider puzzles. I found these to be perfect to break away from the running around, and brawling. You use the character to solve the puzzles, and at times I manage to move the wrong piece as I am used to having my virtual stick wherever I want to. A handy retry button to the top left is a great help to speed thing up.

img_1009If you die when you run around you will end back in the hallway where the game started. Here you get to buy new weapons, armour, and items. There are not much to choose from at all, and I found that to be somewhat disappointing. Only the next level sword or clothing, and no means to customize it. The quirky shop keeper Piu-Piu is hilarious, and just like the story line he is an enigma. If on the other hand you die when you face a boss the game is over, and you get your ass booted to the title screen. Thankfully you can see these bosses from afar, and it is easy to manually save to be safe. The game also quick saves whenever you press the home button.

img_1008The graphics in Chaos Rings are the best seen on an iPhone…period. Running around is smooth, and looks detailed with good character animation. The story is told in written dialogue, and even that looks and feels good for this game. The characters are so well drawn that they seem to pop out of the screen. Can it get better? Yes it can. The battles are amazing with some of the largest most detailed monsters to fight ever seen. All the enemies I have met have been interesting, well designed and beautifully drawn. Cool effects of spells and attacks, and superb backdrops help making it a visual feast for the eyes.

The music is awesome as well adjusting the music to the situation at hand. Bombastic string arrangements, trickery clowny puzzle music and tribal drum sections. The sound effects to me seem to be a lot of revamping of the classic Square Enix sounds of swords, magic and death roars. You can play your own music, and keep the sound effects as well. A further evidence that Square Enix has learned a lot from the errors of earlier releases for the iPhone.

img_2029The price is quite high for Chaos Rings, but if you want to experience the best action RPG for the iPhone it is definitely worth it. Sure I would have preferred to see the $9.99 barrier unbroken, but as a first real premium title I have no better contender. I can only hope that Square Enix enhances this version for the iPad making the same game compatible on both devices. If however you will be given the choice of an iPad or iPhone version I must say that Chaos Rings is perfect for the small screen. It can be played in short sessions, as well as for several hours straight. With a combined gamelife of at least 20 hours, and to get all achievements about 40 hours this is one to be experienced for a long time.

The first premium title for the iPhone is an awesome game reinventing the action RPG genre fully. With marvellous visuals, great controls, deep gene magic system and four intriguing story lines there is no better way to spend your first days of spring. The weird hard to follow map, lack of customization and gear are drawbacks holding back that final half star. If you want to take the next step in mobile RPGs definitely add Chaos Rings to your collection.



Chaos Rings $12.99 Get it from CHAOS RINGS
Version: 1.0.0
Seller: Square Enix Co., Ltd.

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  • Ulrik Damm

    It really looks amazing! But how does the game run on the iPhone 3G? I just don’t want to pay $12.99 for a slow game.

  • Torbjorn Kamblad, Sweden

    @Ulrik Damm
    There is so much to say about this game that I missed out that you can actually turn off some of the particle effects. With these off the game should run well on an iPhone 3G. I have not tried the game on a 3G myself though. I started playing on my 3GS with the particles off for some reason, and the loss of them aren’t huge when it comes to affecting the impact of the great graphics.

  • Anon

    Runs real smooth on 3G even WITH the particle effects enable, no worries.

  • Thaurin

    Agree with Anon, no problems on iPhone 3G even with particle effects enabled.

  • Ulrik Damm

    Sounds good :)

  • Charles

    I am confused about the opening sentence. The characters must “thrust” one another? Are they fighting against each other? Is this a typo of “trust?”

  • AnotherTim

    This game is ridiculous. Square has raised the bar for iPhone RPGs far above its previous mark.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    I am doing this on a 2g, after I get some time in with it I will post impressions of how it runs for those who are stuck in the past… like me :)

    added this game runs wonderfully on a second gen iPod touch, even with the snow effects. The battles look fantastic.

  • http://thegameisgreat!!!nicegraphicsanditevenrunswellina2gitouchwhichisawsome!!!runswellwithalltheeffectsuptoo!! The Gazette

    the game is great!!! nice graphics and it even runs well in a 2g itouch which is awsome!!! runs well with all the effects up too!!

  • juno

    The music and the story of this game is so engaging! Well done,Squire Enix!

  • Caesar

    This game looks totally totally total. Total. Pretty sure this is THE game I’ve been waiting for. Can’t wait to play this on my 3Gs, but I cant afford it until next month.
    Just out of interest, I found that I lost interest in most of the other ‘good’ RPGs on the app store (dont think I’ve finished one yet, and thats saying something.) Im a huge RPG fan, so can anyoe tell me whether this game is actually engaging enough to hold my short attention span? Never had this problem with any RPGS on any other devices. Maybe it’s just me.

  • Charred Toast

    The game is great, but why doesn’t Square get the word out about this game. They should have been previewing it on all the game sites (not just iphone gaming sites), and they should be making a big deal about a big budget Square game for the iphone/ipod touch. How is it going to sell well with so little publicity. I want to see more AAA games on the iphone, but how are they going to sell the big numbers needed without putting any effort into advertising. Hardly any of my gaming friends even seem to know this game exists. The only way I know is because I go to iphone gaming sites like this one.

    I really hope it sells well.

  • AnotherTim

    @Caesar: This one is on another level. The story and gameplay are both extremely engaging (if you like turn-based RPGs). It’s nothing like your standard Korean RPG mobile phone port, for example.

    @Charred Toast: ditto on your thoughts. I hope this sells really well and more developers put out these kinds of AAA titles on the platform. Raise the prices and the standards, I say!

  • Xenos

    ” First Premium title for the platform ” – I think your being a little unfair there.

  • Nigel Wood, UK

    By premium he means in relation to price.

  • Jae

    Can the original ipod touch run this?

  • Lam Dinh

    Hey guys, to tell the truth… I’m stuck on the first slider puzzle and I checked everyway to do it but It doesn’t work, if any of u find solution to tell or am I wrong but they probably left out 1 move by accident or on purpose because they probably don’t want you to continue in the game and waste your money on something that may take an hour or leas so you guys think bout what I said and I hope se mite fix this in a update

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    @ Lam

    The first slider puzzle is solved by sliding the two blocks along the top and right edge to the bottom right corner. This can be done in the three moves supplied. Hope that helps!

  • trundley

    This game runs well on a Ipod Touch 2nd Generation (8GB) and this is VERY MUCH LIKE FINAL FANTASY VII. You know I don’t see why Square Enix HAVE NOT bothered to port final fantasy VII. The only problem I have had is when I get a BIG monster/creature and get a critical hit which brings up all of this weired sprite effect kind of thing which makes my iPod judder for 1-2 seconds then it’s smooth again. Doesn’t eat your battery too quick, compared to other high quality 3-D games, and is totally worth the money it costs (you have to play it 4 times to get the FINAL EPIC boss fight)

  • Sotres

    Being an Square-Enix rpg I had high expectations for this game, and well, I thought it was going to be cooler. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are great and the controlling is perfect, but somehow I didnt get involved in the story, its just… that it doesnt make sense!, it is not catchy. Also the battles are not very exciting, I didnt like that you regain all your HP after each battle (sorry, I’m the kind of guy who likes to administrate my items and magic, instead of being replenished every time I fight a monster), and the magics learning system is kind of complex, also the magic powers are not very flashy (something I expect from high level magic powers).
    Anyways, I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

  • Kira

    Excellent game, but its difficult and too complex.

    How i can go back to the previous scenario if i want to training again?