By Phil Schipper / January 27th, 2015
|Developer||Snapshot Games Inc.|
|Publisher||Snapshot Games Inc.|
|Release Date||December 9, 2014 (Early Access)|
Powerful wizards summon allies and battle for supremacy in Chaos Reborn, a turn-based strategy game that’s currently in Early Access. Though it still lacks a lot of the features that are advertised for the finished version, this release does have the Versus Mode fully functioning and polished.
Chaos Reborn battles take place on a map with hexagonal spaces. When a match begins, all you have is your wizard and your hand of seven cards. During a single turn, your wizard can move, attack adjacent enemies and use one card. Most of these cards are monsters that you can summon to your side — each one with a different attack power, range, movement and, often, a unique ability. Some are good simply for their stats; others can fly over obstacles in the terrain; there are even a small few that your wizard can ride into battle. The core of battle strategy, ultimately, is your monsters.
Although the maps you’ll play on naturally have a few obstacles that normal monsters can’t pass over, a far more effective way to block or trap enemies is with growth cards. When you play a growth card, it will spread out over multiple spaces. Some, like the Shadow Wood and Tangle Vines, can be placed individually within a certain range of your wizard, whereas the Gooey Blob asks you to target a central point, and oozes out each turn from there. These things block off non-flying monsters, and the Gooey Blob even disables monsters that touch it. Of course, growths aren’t foolproof — they can be defeated in battle just like monsters can.
Some cards, rather than appearing on the battlefield, affect creatures that already exist. Equipment cards boost your wizard’s attack power, attack range, or defense, respectively. There are also several attack spells that target enemies at various ranges, and even a few that go for multiple targets. Most (but not all) of these will have a lesser effect on wizards than their creatures, causing the targets to lose a card or two out of their hand.
All of these things seem pretty standard and sensible for a game like this one. But where Chaos Reborn throws all convention out the window is the way randomness dictates the entire game. First, every card has a percent chance that it will be used successfully. If you fail, the card disappears without being used and gives you a small amount of mana as consolation. Still, since there is a limited number of cards in the deck that you’ll draw from and you can’t use another card that turn, failed casts can easily cripple even the best strategy.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can influence your chances, at least when it comes to the cards. If you have mana, you can spend the points to boost the percentage on any attempt. Mana can be obtained through killing enemies, burning unwanted cards or picking it up from specific points on the map. There is only a certain amount you can spend on a single card, though — dictated by the staff you are given for the match.
The other boost you can get is for alignment. Cards are either Chaos, Law or Neutral, and, when they’re used, they affect the overall balance of the match. When it’s on one side, you get a percentage boost for cards of that type, but it doesn’t do any harm to the other. (This also means Neutral cards have no real advantages.)
Yet neither mana nor alignment affect the other, even weirder random outcomes — the attack system. None of the creatures or wizards have health of any sort; instead, their attack and defense ratings, relative to each other, affect the chance that an attack will kill the target outright. There is only alive and dead–nothing in between.
To me, this is a fun idea, but rather ridiculous in practice. It means that any attacker, no matter how weak, can pick off a very strong monster or wizard just by getting a lucky shot, and, conversely, a stronger one can keep whaling on an opponent without making any progress at all. This also cripples, for instance, many of the magic attack cards — when you use them, the game first checks to see if they cast at all, and, then, if they do, you get the test of whether it kills the target. The latter tends to be frustratingly low.
On the other hand, monster cards have one saving grace: the illusion option. If you’re not too happy with your chances of summoning a particular monster, you can instead cast an illusion of it, which is guaranteed to work. The illusion has all the same abilities as the normal version, but, if your opponents suspect your bluff, they can use the disbelieve ability. Disbelieve is like an eighth card that is always in your hand. If the user is correct, the target illusion disappears from the battlefield, and that player can use another card in the same turn.
I will admit that Snapshot Games has loaded Chaos Reborn with a lot of these different ways to manipulate the probability system, and I appreciate that, but, in its current state, it is far too luck-based to let players do much real strategizing. Right now, every battle really is nothing but pure chaos. If a future update brings some more reliable tactics to the table, though, maybe then this game can be truly reborn.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
card gamechaos rebornsnapshot gamesturn-based strategy