There are games from my childhood that I will always have an odd amount of nostalgia about. There are the obvious ones like Zelda and Mario… but then there are the ones where I latched onto with both hands and never quite understood why. Chaos Engine is one of those games in the second column because by all rights… it was not really a popular game in the United States. We never really had the massive Amiga Culture here that the UK did… and while I owned one… I didn’t get it until my college years for use with Digital Video production. However I did own a Sega Genesis and we did get Chaos Engine released under the confusing re-branding of Soldiers of Fortune. I played the hell out of the game but didn’t realize what I had been missing… because while a completely functional port it is in no way as good as the original. I bought my Amiga 3000 second hand… and it came with a box of crudely labelled Amiga floppies. One of which was called Chaos Engine, and when I fired it up… I felt immediately at home. The original Amiga game was so much better in every way than the port I was familiar with, and most importantly was the music. I’ve included a video I found of the game intro running on an A500. The game was essentially an isometric shooter but a much more interesting one than say Commando or Ikari Warriors. It allowed you to pick from a cast of characters… the Brigand, the Gentleman, the Mercenary, the Navvie, the Preacher and The Thug. Each with their own strengths and unique weapons, and also added a small bit of RPG style progression as you could use the money found in each level to purchase buffs to further customize the way the character played. Even today I have purchased every copy of this game that has come out… from a Windows 95 CD version that no longer functions to the more recent release on Steam.
While roaming around the floor at Pax South I came across what I could only describe as the logical successor. Tower 57 is a game that I didn’t even know existed before this convention. It apparently was on Kickstarter during August of 2015 and managed to raise roughly 55k dollars. Had I known about the game then I would have likely backed it, even though my track record with video game kickstarters is not that amazing. The game website describes it as:
In a dystopian, dieselpunk world, where Megatowers are the only enclaves of civilization, a group of extraordinary individuals is sent to infiltrate the reclusive Tower 57. Their skills, clips’ capacity & the ability to cooperate will decide on their fate.
Tower 57 is a top-down twin stick shooter with 16-bit inspired pixel art, destructible environments and heavy focus on co-op. It is also a modern take on what made AMIGA games so great back in the days.
What it felt like was a sort of Shadowrun meets Chaos engine, with a similarly interesting cast of characters. Unfortunately I didn’t actually get to start fresh when I gave the game I try… but it seems like I could largely pick between a female detective wearing a trechcoat and using a shotgun, and the diplomat which is a guy that looks like Abraham Lincoln with a flame thrower. The game has all the right quirky notes that Chaos Engine did, and a similarly Victorian Era meets Steampunk meets 1920s speakeasy feel to it. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and the movement of the characters felt fluid, with interesting and challenging monsters that you encountered. In the Pax South demo it seemed to largely be locked to the sewer level, and I was amped to see the gameplay unfold very similarly to what I expected with Chaos Engine. Essentially doing something in one area of the map might unlock a secret area in another corner of the map, but also spawned multiple waves of mobs that you then needed to clear.
The game is functionally a twinstick shooter, and the demo was played with xbox one controllers. After a short period of time though I adjusted and managed to play my way through the level and get up to the mini boss at the end of it. Ashgar managed to beat it… I however managed to take out the main encounter… then got super careless and died to something stupid on my way out of the room. There was a line of folks waiting to take the controllers, so I stopped playing… but I would have loved to have had another shot at the game and tried playing some of the other characters. Reportedly on both the game website and the steam profile the final version will include seven different playable characters, each with their own weapons and traits. Another thing that I thought was really fun was the fact that the majority of the world appeared to be destructible. Sure this serves a purpose with explosive barrels, but even when it serves no real purpose it is glorious to see the entire screen erupt in a hail of debris without actually slowing down the frame rate. Reportedly the game will support local and online multiplayer co-op gameplay, which is admittedly something I am looking forward to. I am probably going to convince Ashgar to play through the game with me some weekend… which usually means he carries me super hard as I fail miserably somewhere in the background while looking for loot.
If anything I have said sounds interesting, I highly suggest you check out the game. I have a huge amount of nostalgia for Chaos Engine and this game is riding heavily on that fact. However Ashgar seemed to enjoy it just as much as I did, and he had never even heard of that game. Right now the game has an ambiguous “Spring 2017” release date… which to me means “any time before May” but to Square Enix apparently meant June when they were talking about Heavensward. Whatever the case… the game felt really polished and hopefully that means the game will be available shortly. You can pre-order now on Humble for $9.99 but to be honest I am more than likely going to wait for the steam release since I believe right now… humble disqualifies you from giving proper feedback on steam because it is not an “official purchase”. To be honest the whole “steam purchase” versus “key redemption” thing is a mess when it comes to reviews. Whatever the case it is definitely a game I enjoyed and I am ready to get my Chaos Engine game play back on.