Chaos Reborn is a remake of Chaos: the Battle of Wizards, a game published in 1985 for Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which of course, I have had the honour to toy with as a child. Designed by Julian Gollop, of UFO: Enemy Unknown fame, Chaos Reborn has prestigious classic good old game pedigree. The lore of Chaos Reborn is written by fantasy and science fiction author Allen Stroud who has also contributed to Elite Dangerous. Between Law and Chaos, you stand as a wizard, a privileged among the remnants of human beings scattered across realms. Battle wizard lords and kings as you travel beyond Limbo. Discover new worlds where the remnants of humanity may thrive.
Playability: Simple rules, hard game to beat
Chaos Reborn is a tough spell to cast. The tutorial is an obstacle course that quickly tests one’s strategic mettle. The rules of the game are crystal clear and only progressively introduced (casting, line of sight, range and melee units, terrain, mana pool, staff and equipment, special cards…). All in all, Chaos Reborn is hardly more complicated than a game of chess. However, the program is ruthless with beginners and novices. The tutorial is on the lengthy side as it includes challenges… that are appropriately challenging, or a little on the side of discouraging as you’re barely acquainted with the basics of the game. The absence of a saved game feature for the arduous single player campaign is disappointing.
Annoyance: One size beats all with epic spell fails
The gameplay of Chaos Reborn favours a typically conservative approach. The difficulty is not adjustable and adopts the one size cremates all approach. Chaos Reborn prides itself and relies deeply on random number generation. Head on rush with direct lightning bolts and coveted bosses that fail to materialise are unlikely to get you anywhere quickly. Even spells that supposedly have a 100% probability of being successful have an annoying tendency to miss at the most opportune moment. Summon an appropriate sidekick from your preferred menagerie from mundane lions to more esoteric hydras. If the summoning is successful (that’s a big if), your pet dragon will still need to be lucky enough to take on a skinny rat (another significant if). You can see how frustration quietly builds up: use up a few precious cards to summon a fearsome creature, and when it finally growls by your side, see it haplessly fail to take a bite out of the most trivial minions…
Beauty: Nice but small
Chaos reborn is an artistically drawn chessboard. The zoom level is limited and you’ll be glad you’re playing on your massive flat screen. Those on a laptop will need a magnifying glass. The sound effects are rather primitive and more on the side of home studio cooking. The story keeps you fighting through the single player campaign, but you won’t be rewarded by any cutscene. The writing is page turning but leaves you wondering whether you would be better off shutting down your computer and grabbing the Chaos Reborn book instead.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Low probability spell casting 7/10
I’ve never been a fan of card games and casinos: too much left to chance and not enough to deep thinking. When spells after spells fail and rats take out dragons too easily, the probability of player frustration rises… to 100% (without fail). Despite fluid mechanics, the single most important rule of Chaos Reborn is that you should leave it to chance… Yet, Chaos Reborn is that rare piece of software that is both aggravating and addictive: it does feel good when your rat takes out the opponent’s dragon.