There’s a seven-month gap between when I bought Chaos Rings 2 and when I actually started to play it. Part of that has to do with it being an sequel unrelated to the previous stories; the original Chaos Rings and Chaos Rings Omega were both such great games that it was hard to imagine another iOS game—even one made by the same developers—meeting that same standard of greatness with a new world. Still, I eventually worked up the courage to dive in, hoping all the while that the game wouldn’t end up being too much of a disappointment.
My fears had no basis in reality
Like monsters under the bed or farm animals in the closet (I actually had a friend who, growing up, was scared of farm animals hiding in his room), every negative thing I imagined this game to be turned out to exist solely in my head. Not only does the game reach the same levels of greatness as previous games in the series, but it frequently surpasses them, achieving memorable moments that rival even the best jRPGs of all time. A large part of this has to do with the story; most of the game revolves around a group of characters who are trying to come to terms with their own deaths, having been summoned in order to sacrifice their lives in a rite designed to stave off a Book of Revelation-esque apocalypse.
I loved the characters
I went in expecting to hate everyone in the game. The characters are typically where jRPGs lose me, after all, frequently adhering to lazy archetypes that involve screechy characters with annoyingly cute/innocent personalities (I’m looking at you, Skies of Arcadia). The characters in Chaos Rings 2 didn’t seem all that interesting at first, either, and I was actually looking forward to sacrificing a couple of them. As the time to sacrifice the first of them drew nearer, however, I began to discover little details about the characters that made me less willing to see them go. By the time I had gone through with the first sacrifice, I immediately regretted it.
You’ll quickly become attached to them
I soon realized that the writing had made me so invested in the characters that I felt a sinking sensation in my gut every time the impossibility of their situation became evident. A game having an actual emotional impact on me is exceedingly rare, but for a mobile game to do so? That’s unprecedented. There’s so much back story and explanation behind everything that even the name of a certain key character has a meaning that only becomes apparent later on, and the huge amount of subtlety and depth that permeates much of the game makes it nearly impossible to not become hugely attached to just about everyone.
The combat’s like Chaos Rings, only better
Combat in Chaos Rings 2 is very much similar to previous games, but the system as a whole feels more fleshed out than the relatively simplistic fighting of the previous games. For example, the “Genes” from previous games are gone, replaced by “Sopia” that operate almost identically. However, after finishing certain sidequests, you can obtain “recipes” that allow you to gain more skills by equipping certain combinations of Sopia. Just about everything has been improved like this, and it’d be difficult to list all of the things that have been added, but the biggest would probably be the addition of a charge gauge that’s tied to special combat skills. This gauge fills up as you attack (and are attacked) and has three levels it can be charged up to during battle.
As in previous games, you have the option to attack as a pair or as individual characters each turn, and the charge gauge allows each to have different benefits by linking different skills to each; individual characters have their own special “Awakening” attack(s) that are tied to the charge gauge, while operating as a pair during a turn means having access to powerful “Advent” attacks that are tied to the charge gauge (it’s worth mentioning that neither consume MP). You gain new advents as characters are sacrificed, and can choose to equip whichever one suits your play style best, which lends a lot of flexibility to the combat system.
It’s harder than the first game, too
Once you level up to a certain point in the original Chaos Rings, you’re basically an indestructible tank who’s capable of doling out hilarious amounts of damage to even the most impossible foes. This makes sense within the context of that game’s story, but the sudden lack of challenge reduces combat to a few simple pair attacks if you grind. Chaos Rings 2, however, never allows you get to this point; even after some grinding, you’ll still occasionally face enemies who are challenging if you’re not adequately prepared. It’s never cheaply difficult, however, and if you die, it’ll almost always be your own fault.
The puzzles are gone!
If you played the previous games, you probably remember the puzzles that would sometimes be difficult to finish because of the clumsiness of the touch controls. Well, those are gone. Poof, disappeared. In their place is the ability to switch between characters, with each character having a unique ability they can perform in certain locations. For example, Li Hua can punch through barricades and Marie can use magic to move platforms. These new character abilities aren’t used for puzzles, though—they’re usually either shortcuts or detours that lead you to areas where items (sometimes) appear.
Survival of the prettiest
It’s funny because the main character’s name is Darwin. Probably should have mentioned that earlier. Anyway, Chaos Rings 2 is even prettier than the previous games managed to be, with more detailed textures and some truly memorable locations. That being said, the locations don’t feel quite as varied as in the first game, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s some truly stunning scenery made possible by the fact that time has been stopped for the sacrifice. You’ll see a waterfall frozen in time, cherry blossoms suspended in midair, and even a tidal wave that’s completely still.
Moosick iz gud 2
The music is another area where the game works really well, actually sounding like a bit of a cross between Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy music in a lot of ways. There’s also something distinctly Final Fantasy-esque about how it weaves in a certain song (sung in Japanese) to tug at your heartstrings during key moments. That being said, the music never comes across as trying to force emotion into the scene. It’s just an incredibly well-written soundtrack that makes an already amazing game even better:
Here’s what you should do: