Chaos Reborn Inches Closer to Release with Playable Prototype

Julian Gollop's remake of his classic ZX Spectrum strategy game is coming along very nicely, thank you very much.

News by Pete Davison, .

Ahh, Chaos. How I love thee, if only for that time my friend Sam cast the spell "Dark Power" three times on himself, believing it would raise his "Chaos" power. Instead, it simply obliterated him, allowing me to win. I never let him live that one down.

For the uninitiated, Chaos: The Battle of Wizards was the 1985 brainchild of Julian Gollop, who would later go on to create the Laser Squad and X-COM franchises. It was a turn-based strategy game that supported up to eight players -- any combination of human and AI-controlled -- in which the aim was simple: be the last wizard standing.

The battle for supernatural supremacy was fought using an array of summoned creatures and spells. The success rate of summoning creatures or casting spells was determined by the player's inclination towards the forces of "Law" or "Chaos," which in turn was determined by which spells they had cast previously. This meant that you couldn't expect to be summoning giant dragons immediately -- you'd have to work your way up to them over the course of the game.

There were a few twists on the formula, though: firstly, although it was unlikely to be able to summon a powerful minion in your early turns, there was a slim chance of being able to do so according to the luck of the virtual dice roll. Secondly, you could always summon an "illusion" monster, which to other players appeared exactly like a real one -- including the amount of damage it could inflict -- but which could be destroyed immediately by choosing to "disbelieve" it. Choosing to "disbelieve" the dragon that's bearing down on you and discovering that no, it is in fact a real one remains one of the most heart-in-mouth moments in all multiplayer gaming.

Gollop is keen to stress this is placeholder art, though I kind of like the abstract, futuristic look.

Chaos was, suffice to say, an absolute blast, particularly when played with friends. As such, it may be of interest to many of you to hear that Gollop has been quietly working on an official remake for some time now, and has finally got it into a playable form, albeit with placeholder art. The prototype is currently undergoing testing so is not available to the public just yet, but the fact that Gollop has announced it is a good sign indeed.

Chaos Reborn isn't a straight-up remake of Chaos, though it is possible to play by the original rules if you desire. Besides the random spell selection of the original game, Chaos Reborn also features a collectible card game-like mode where you collect spells as you progress through the game, build a "deck" of them and have access to a "hand" of them at any one time, with said hand being refreshed from your deck each time you cast a spell. It's a twist on the standard formula which still retains an element of unpredictability while allowing players to feel like their options are expanding as they grow more experienced.

Chaos Reborn doesn't have a release date yet -- it looks like being one of those games that'll be released when it's good and ready -- but you can follow its development via Gollop's blog and Twitter account.

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Comments 4

  • Avatar for MrTomFTW #1 MrTomFTW 4 years ago
  • Avatar for pjedavison #2 pjedavison 4 years ago
  • Avatar for Rory-Taylor #3 Rory-Taylor 4 years ago
    I remember reading an article about this in RetroGamer a while back. It sounded really interesting, but I had no point of reference for the original. I could be wrong but I don't think 8-bit computing was real big over in the U.S. More of a U.K. thing. I'll be looking forward to this whenever it comes out.
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #4 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @Rory Taylor Chaos was best-known on the ZX Spectrum, which, you're right, was more popular in the UK. In the States, it was the Commodore 64 that gained the most popularity in the 8-bit era. That platform was home to some great games in its own right -- not to mention the awesome SID sound chip which is still used by chiptune music artists today.
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