It’s testament to the quality of the iPhone as a gaming device that a developer of Square Enix’s calibre would choose to release an exclusive for the platform. And a considerably impressive exclusive at that.
Chaos Rings is fairly standard Square Enix fare, much in the style of Final Fantasy but with a heavier emphasis on battle. If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy series, chances are you’ll love Chaos Rings.
In Chaos Rings, you control one of four couples reluctantly summoned to the Ark Arena by a mysterious beast called the Agent. The Agent explains that the couples must fight to the death, with the promise of immortality for the winners.
Unfortunately there’s no escape from the Ark Arena, and the Agent will happily slay anyone who refuses to play ball. As such, you have no choice but to embrace the madness and get on with it.
Before getting down to the main event, each couple must set off in search of a series of rings, which are a prerequisite for entering the final area. Ultimately the plot is a pretext for a series of dungeon crawls.
The dungeons are vaguely maze like, and feature a generous helping of random battles, interspersed with the occasional puzzle. The random battles can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you get lost, while the puzzles offer a welcome respite from the seemingly constant fighting.
The battles are turn-based, and offer the option of attacking individually or as a pair. The paired attacks invariably dole out more damage, but leave both characters open to attack; with two single attacks, a monster can only retaliate against one member of your team. It’s an interesting system, and adds a further element of strategy to battle.
Along the way you can pick up genes from fallen foes. For example, the giant phoenix drops its bird genes, and equipping them gives you access to its magic attacks, such as Cremate. You can equip four sets of genes at any one time, learning new abilities as you defeat high-levelled opponents.
The touch controls are implemented rather well. Touching anywhere on the screen brings up a little virtual stick, with which you can walk or run. The ability to deploy the virtual stick wherever you like means you won’t find yourself obscuring any of the action. Which brings me nicely onto the graphics.
Visually, Chaos Rings is one of the best titles available for iOS. It looks absolutely stunning. The environments are hugely detailed, and there are even weather effects such as rain and snow.
The music, too, lives up to high standards set by Square Enix. You’ll definitely want to have the volume cranked for this one.
- Visually stunning
- Awesome soundtrack
- Plenty of replay value
- Random battles are just… argh!
- Possibly too much going on for casual gamers
- Not cheap (£7.49)
Summary: Chaos Rings is pretty much everything you’d expect from a battle-heavy Square Enix title, but that’s by no means a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s very, very good.
Developer: Square Enix
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Price: £7.49 @ App Store