Category: Turn-based strategy games
Seller: Square Enix
Requirements: iOS 4.0 or later
Compatibility: iPad (also available for iPhone and iPod touch)
File Size: 784MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Price: $19.99 ($17.99 for iPhone, iPod touch)
Age Rating: 9+ (infrequent/mild cartoon or fantasy violence)
Chaos Rings II starts with your character’s death. We then backtrack to a few days earlier, when he kills his best friend, and is then immediately forced to fight alongside his best friend’s sister after being told he’s eventually going to have to kill her, too, in order to save the world.
Welcome to the breezy, frivolous world of Japanese gaming.
Chaos Rings II is the third in the Chaos Rings series, continuing the over-the-top melodrama and fantastic turn-based gameplay that makes it one of the best franchises on iOS. It’s based on the ridiculous premise that every now and again (and by every now and again, I mean this has happened over 1,600 times), five people must be sacrificed by a Nominator in order to save the world from destruction by The Destroyer. Only here, the Nominator will have to kill all five people, so he’s not really nominating anyone, he’s just choosing the order in which they’ll die.
And so, you, as the main character Darwin, get to make this choice. You will fight alongside the other characters, and then at various points determine who will be the next to die at your hand.
You only get limited control over this (my first choice was to kill off the young boy, Connor, because he cried too much, but the game wouldn’t let me), but your choices do impact the path Chaos Rings II will take to reach its conclusion.
After making the sacrifice, you enter into a quick battle with the deceased’s spirt core, or something like that, which you then get to us in battle going forward.
As such, the battles are the focus of the game. They’re turn-based, meaning you determine how your characters attack, heal or defend, using the myriad weapons and abilities you’ll acquire throughout the game. You can even determine whether you and your partner attack separate of one another or in a pair, which produces greater damage but opens you both up to retaliation by the enemy. Although the battle system is fairly basic on top (attack and be attacked), the ability to customize and expand your sopia attacks creates a deep system that’ll reward even veteran turn-based strategy gamers such as myself.
Leveling up is key in order to take on the more difficult monsters, including some magnificent boss beasts. You accomplish this by playing through the story and by accepting P.U.B. challenges that reward you with experience and rare items you can use in battle or exchange for more powerful weapons, armor and items.
Chaos Rings II does away with the puzzle levels of the previous games, and instead closes off access of certain points until you revisit a scene with a specific character in order to grab special items or face a mini-boss battle. This would be annoying, except developer Media.Vision made two great decisions. First, as before, you can set the monster level as you enter a scene; lower levels are easier to get through, while higher levels yield more experience and better spoils. Second, after you reach a certain point, you can shut off random encounters altogether. This means no leveling up, but you can much more quickly get to where you need to be.
Chaos Rings II also improves significantly over its predecessors in two important ways: the map is much easier to understand (you’re going to spend a lot less time wandering aimlessly as you try to reach your goal), and the graphics are, in most areas, significantly better in the iPad version (although not yet Retina display optimized). Chaos Rings and Chaos Rings Omega looked great on the iPhone, but were a pixelated disaster on the iPad. Finally, with Chaos Rings II, the iPad gets a version that’s worthy of its larger screen.
Square Enix has become known for charging the “Square Enix tax” for iOS games, and Chaos Rings II is no exception. The iPhone version comes in at a whopping $17.99, with the iPad version right behind at $19.99. But it’s totally worth it. This is a big game in presentation and quality. It’s a console experience, not a casual time-killer, and should therefore be priced that way. Although the story is short compared to console games, you’ll be getting more out of it (including better endings) with multiple play-throughs and via free mission updates, two of which are already planned through May.
Chaos Rings II totally nails what gamers love about JRPGs. It approaches the genre with heavy drama, a knowing and sharp sense of humor, and the development expertise you’d expect from Square Enix. More importantly, it provides a battle system that rewards careful planning and experience, and that creates a sense of satisfaction when you finally get through a difficult fight.
All that melodramatic talk of loyalty, honor and sacrifice just adds to the fun.