Personal Computer News27th April 1985
Published in Personal Computer News #109
Chaos is a poor man's Archon - it's the nearest Spectrum owners can get. With strong board game connections, it's clever, addictive - and up to eight can play.
The theme is battles between wizards. Having decided how many you want, you give each a name, choose between computer or human control, and select its icon and colour (each from eight possibilities). This works well: you can watch the computer pitch up to eight wizards against each other (good for learning strategy) and masochists can try their hand against seven top-notch wizards under computer control.
The playing area is black. After each move, the player can select and cast a spell. Each wizard begins with a different list of spells; there may be overlaps but the range is wide. Before selecting a spell, you can check out its strength, range, etc from the main menu.
Some spells summon creations which can be used to attack other wizards or their creations. Some creations are animal: manticore, king cobra or lion, and, I suppose, spectre, zombie or ghost. Others, like lightning, magic bolt and raise dead speak for themselves.
A few of the spells are great fun: magic fire puts a flickering yellow fire in the arena, and at the beginning of every phase more fires spring from it.
The graphics are limited, but colourful and lively. Characters are single animated UDGs. Wings of bat and gryphon flap in irritation as you ponder strategy, while bears shake their fist and the undead march in the night.
The detailed rules may put some players off - you have to learn whether a spell needs a line of sight, weigh up the chances of a law spell succeeding given the current state of chaos of the universe (and there are spells for altering the prevailing entropy level) and so on. Every time you play you're given a different set of spells so it takes quite a while before you don't have to reach for the manual every turn.
Where Chaos loses to Archon is in the latter's hand-to-hand player combat over strategic squares.
However, Chaos is great fun to play. It's hampered by its board game feel, but the graphic detail and its addictive qualities will keep you coming back for months to come.