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Developer: SQUARE ENIX
Price: $11.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Starting up Chaos Rings Ω after already dipping a toe into the original left me with a rather negative first-impression. It seemed to have the exact same plot, the exact same maps and the exact same monsters as the first game; like most people, I found myself thinking that it was just a lazy cash-in. It’s kind of hard not to in those first minutes, seeing as even the main characters bear more than a passing resemblance to those from the first game. It all starts to make sense as the story unfolds, but it doesn’t make a very good first-impression.

Anyone who’s played the original game will be instantly familiar with Chaos Rings Ω. It’s all about controlling a pair of characters as they battle monsters in the Ark Arena. Each of the pair can attack individually or together, with the latter doing more damage but leaving both characters open to a single attack. Dispatched enemies will sometimes yield “gene plates” which can be equipped to allow the use of special abilities (i.e. healing, stat-boosting, elemental spells, and so on). Again, anyone who’s played the first game will know exactly what to expect when they play this one. The story, on the other hand, is another matter.

Chaos Rings Ω does start to drag a bit, since it’s pretty much nothing but Level Grinding: The Game, but the story keeps things moving with a fair amount of intrigue. Simply trying to figure out the Ark Arena’s purpose will probably be enough to keep some players invested, assuming they don’t already know the answer. And if they do, they’ll probably want to stick around and see exactly how it all ties in to the events of the first game (which it does, in a big way).

Aside from the constant grind, there’s not much else to complain about with Chaos Rings Ω. I suppose the general lack of cutscenes and a reliance on character portraits to tell the story lessens the impact of some of the more emotional moments, but that’s really just splitting hairs. The game also seems to like pulling a Steven Spielberg, dangling one ending in front of the audience’s face, then yanking it back and presenting another one, over and over again, so I suppose I was starting to get a little sick of all the “Final Boss” fights.

Whether or not Chaos Rings Ω is worth the admittedly large (for the App Store) price tag depends largely on how much someone’s looking for a good portable RPG. Unfortunately there’s no Lite version (of either game) as of this writing, but there is the promise of continued support through monthly updates that will add secret bosses and keep raising the level cap. There’s also a special Extra mode that’s unlocked once the story is completed which I won’t spoil, but it does add a decent amount of replay value if the idea of a New Game+ doesn’t tantalize. Personally, I think it’s worth the price for anyone looking for a good RPG to have on-the-go – assuming they aren’t already loaded down with iOS role-playing games, that is.


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