Lots of chaos, little fighting
Considering that we live in a time of virtually non-stop sensory overload, Chaos Fighters is a mobile RPG that’s well suited for right now. Coco Entertainment has managed to craft a game where your anime-styled fighters always has something to do – and so will you, thanks to its dizzying array of ways to power up your characters. It’s stylish, to be sure, but there’s a lack of steak beneath the sizzle that keeps it from achieving its full potential.
Fans of JRPG humor and character designs will best appreciate the game’s opening, which explains why there’s chaos to be fought, and the scantily clad female assistant who guides you through your first steps into combat and character progression. As it turns out, the latter is considerably more involved than the former.
More precisely, combat in Chaos Fighters is a spectator sport. The preparation is everything, from choosing your fighters mix of skills from a selection that grows as he or she levels up, to making sure your gear is upgraded and as maxed out on stats as possible. Once the battles start, there’s nothing you can do to influence the outcome, as the AI plays both sides according to the percentage chances that special abilities will activate and the attributes and stats that govern their basic attacks.
It’s a strange design decision because it doesn’t seem like it would have been that difficult to make the battles turn-based and give players some control, though that would take away the kinetic craziness of the action. Since the game gives you multiple ways to speed through the fighting, it’s almost like the combat is a secondary consideration, which is odd considering that you need to do so much of it.
Between battles, the game bombards you with different methods of improving your fighter. Many of them only unlock as you advance, but since that happens so frequently (I easily reached level 20 in just a few hours of play), you’re exposed to one new concept after another. Weapons and armor can be upgraded and slotted with gems. Those can be fused to create more powerful versions, as can the fighters themselves.
You can train pets and hire friends’ fighters as mercenaries, a necessary step to take on later quests where you’ll face multiple foes per battle and will need to swap fighters when one is KOed. There’s an astronomy system to master for specific stat boosts, a soul refinement system, and probably more I didn’t even uncover during my review time.
How about a PvP arena? Sure, there’s one of those too, along with weekly tournaments and special events. You can even create or join guilds. Did I mention there’s a lot going on here? And even though there’s an energy system to put a limit on super long play sessions, you won’t run into much trouble with it early on.
The diamonds used as premium currency can also be obtained through normal play, but there’s a catch: some of the best stuff in the in-game stores can only be purchased if you have the proper VIP level, and that pretty much requires real money diamond purchases. It’s still far from the worst monetization scheme around, but it does have a bit of a bait and switch feel to it.
If you get bored with a passive role in combat and seeing combinations of the same 40 abilities over and over, at least you can get lost in the game’s visual flair. The characters have a super deformed look and some classic anime traits (like the tears when they lose battles), and there are a ton of them. I had everything in my roster of characters from a Ryu-style martial artist to a mech suit to a vampire to a masked Mexican wrestler before too long, as well as weapons both intimidating and silly. The stage backgrounds are detailed and varied, and the rest of the visuals give the whole thing the vibe of a fighting game that just happens to have an RPG built around it.
The funny thing is, I’m not sure even that’s a good way to describe Chaos Fighters. I think this is going to be a polarizing game; some people will love the JRPG flavor and unusual amount of content for a free mobile game, while other players will be turned off by the fact that there isn’t much play in the gameplay. “Your mileage may vary” applies here more than usual.