As a developer, I have a lot of respect for Chronotek. His TDS engine was what brought me into the world of Ai in Game Maker. As technical wizardry goes, he’s got a lot of talent, which is obvious in this latest game – Runes of Chaos. Let’s take the game for a spin, shall we?
- Yudhanjaya Wijeratne [the ALCH3MIST]
Let me start off by breaking some of your expectations and twisting them along a different route. Runes of Chaos. Don’t let the title fool you: it’s not a roguelike, no is it an RPG.
It’s a top-down-shooter.
After a few on-and-off hours of playing, I’m still getting used to this game. Basically: Runes of Chaos takes place in an alternate reality, where the meteor that crashed into the earth a long time ago brought to life – you guessed it – the runes. Strange magical talismans that give ordinary people extraordinary power, and strike greed in the hearts of others. The whole world is in a turmoil, and three countries are fighting for the prize.
This story, I’ll admit, is a fresh, well-thought-out take on the standard RPG fare of mytical runes, power-ups and magic. It’s the first thing you get before you’re thrown into the gameplay. The way it’s presented is quite superb; there’s not much in the way of cutscenes, but fantastic music and solid writing combine to give Runes of Chaos one hell of a start. By the time the intro finishes, you’re all set to dive into the world of RoC.
Unfortunately, the next step is confusion. You’re thrown into a mission where you’re guarding a girl called Alice; for some reason, you have to escort her through miles of territory crawling [literally] with soldiers armed to the teeth. Assault rifles, snipers, the works. Like I said, you’re controlling your character, a secret agent from one particular country, from a top-down viewpoint. W, A, S and D to move, mouse to fire. Enemies you take down drop items: armors, weapons, helmets, melee weapons and so on. A refreshing RPG touch, but the game gives you no help whatsoever at the beginning: you’re left to figure out how to equip and switch items. There’s a strong chance you might give up then and there, because this is alarmingly difficult for a first level: the player barely has time to come to grips with the gameplay before he’s shot six ways to hell.
Once you DO have the controls figured out, the game becomes fun. The music is simply fantastic, and melds perfectly with the action. Unlike most top-down shooters, there’s a heavy element of stealth in the game. The Ai on the other side is pretty good, too. I escorted Alice with quite a bit of sneaking and hiding from enemy patrols, rushing out only when necessary. My verdict: the gameplay is seriously fun. It’s like playing Call of Duty in 2D, with the occasional magic sprinkled in. I’m impressed with how engrossing the game gets when you’re trying to get out of enemy-infested land ASAP. Timing, stealth and a good eye all help here. Between missions, there’s the story I mentioned: I won’t reveal it, but it’s epic and good enough to keep you hooked.
Unfortunately, the one place where this game falls short is the integration of gameplay and story. Individually, they’re both very good. Put together, they’re slightly out of sync with each other. Mystical armor, melee weapons and speed stats in a TDS? Slightly at odds here. There are hundreds of items you can pick up from your dead enemies, but the small inventory makes sure you don’t bother. Most of the times I found myself ignoring the items system altogether and working with guns alone. The story becomes a little more tied in once magic gets into the game, but even then it feels slightly weird, weilding a runic blade and a Beretta. When playing the game, the RPG-like story is often forced to the background because of the gameplay, which revolves heavily on stealth, “dogfighting”, and basically trying to outgun a hundred enemies with a pistol. Or, as it happens, with fire magic. It’s a shooter with RPG trappings. Not a failure: it’s an innovation, and while I would have liked more story in the gameplay, it’s a solid game as it is.
Bottom line: Runes of Chaos has a few minor faults, but major pros on it’s side: enough to make me want to keep on playing. It’s an acquired taste: expect a shooter and you’re likely to be shooting away happily; expect a roguelike / RPG and you’re disappointed. At any rate, if you’re a fan of TDS action, don’t miss out on this one. Download it [totally free] at http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/games/193182-runes-of-chaos
About the author:
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, Master Chief and legendary warrior. Actually, he’s the founder + Editor of Indiegraph. When he’s not writing, he’s over at 4250games, building games and tinkering about. He has a love of all things indie and a PC that has seen better days. His favorite games are Pharaoh, Deus Ex, Halo and Iji. And Minecraft.