Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
[Having a bit of trouble figuring out what to do next or how best to win in the arena? Check out our Chaos Rings III tips and tricks]
I’m not going to beat around the bush: Chaos Rings III has a lot of problems So many that I actually had to cut about half of this review down because it was far too long. There’s fun to be had here, but it comes at a price.
I will say that Chaos Rings II is a darned good-looking game. Animations have a nice bit of ‘weight’ to them, and the flashier attacks and spells are a pleasure to watch. The story is decent as well, but it’s fairly slow to get going - the smaller individual character moments are nice, though.
There are two opposing modes to play around with: Story Mode and Battle Mode. Story Mode follows the exploits of the main character and a number of other folks he teams up with (no more two-person limit!), and involves searching for a supposedly fictional Paradise. Battle Mode is basically just fighting in a string of arena battles, with the occasional special events.
Both modes have their positives and negatives, but you can bounce back and forth between them whenever you want - so long as it’s not in combat or during a cutscene. All experience, money, and items carry over between them, although for some reason your equipped Genes (these dictate your magic abilities) won’t change. I guess because you might have specific sets for the arena versus the campaign?
I’ve actually been having fun with Chaos Rings III, but it’s really bogged down by a bunch of weird design decisions. Health refills automatically between battles but magic doesn’t, meaning you can use an item to refill it, wait until the story segues to a “sleeping” scene, or let a certain amount of real time pass. If you’re in the arena you can spend an “Ohnz coin” to refill it immediately as well. Incidentally, you can also use Ohnz coins (earned by completing quests as a daily reward) to purchase random Gene packs and special equipment; or you can spend GP (earned in the arena) on other items; or spend ML, which is the standard game currency.
I know what it sounds like, but this isn’t free-to-play. In fact, there aren’t any in-app purchases to be found. It’s a premium game that for some reason wants to incorporate F2P mechanics with no apparent reason for doing so.
The awkward free-to-premium structure isn’t my only gripe, though. The underlying RPG systems also don’t gel together very well. I do like the idea of treating Genes as collectible cards that can be leveled-up and combined to make stronger versions of themselves, but they take a long time to level-up and, while it’s recommended that you max out two duplicates to combine, there’s no indication of what the level maximum actually is.
Then there’s the combat. It uses flashy things like combos (strikes landed after a critical hit or an attack with an element the enemy is weak against), finishers (special attacks triggered by finishing combos with a melee strike), and super-fancy finishers (the same as regular finishers but they require a maxed-out battle gauge). I like these ideas as well, but pulling them off is usually a total crapshoot because you won’t know the attack order in a fight. You can get used to your own team’s turn order, but enemies can easily lock you out of pulling off a combo simply by going in the middle. The battle gauge isn’t particularly great either, as it tends to fluctuate wildly no matter how well you do. Just spent three turns getting it an inch from full? Great! Now that giant bird is going to go before you can finish your combo, and it’ll drain a shockingly large amount from the meter.
I might sound like I’m being a bit nitpicky, and I kind of am, but so many of these issues don’t need to exist. As I’ve said, it’s still possible to enjoy playing Chaos Rings III (inasmuch as you can have fun with the JRPG grind), and I have been, but it’s got this awkwardness to it that doesn’t need to be there. Kudos to Square Enix for trying something different, but I don’t think it entirely worked.