Ask someone to recount the days leading up to a wedding and they're sure to remember the stress of organising flowers and meals, invitations and travel, dresses and rings.
Even when each individual element has been carefully planned, you can't predict how it will all come together.
The wedding gown might be beautiful, but maybe the bride has changed shape in the meantime. Perhaps the flowers arrive wilted. Or overly enthusiastic family members could demand extra guests.
But despite a few minor hitches, all the preparation that went into Chaos Rings has paid off. Promises of beautiful graphics and a clever battle system have manifest into a highly enjoyable role-playing game, and that despite the premium pricing.Put a ring on it
In style, it provides classic role-playing married to an odd, if not altogether bizarre story.
A series of couples have been transported to a mysterious realm known as Ark Arena within which they must fight to the death for the prize of eternal life and youth. You control one of these duos, directing their quest for immortality. Completing the game unlocks new playable pairs, each with their own story, and multiple endings.
The gameplay remains consistent across each adventure, though. Trips to the interior of the arena involve turn-based battles against a host of creatures, collecting treasures, and solving spatial puzzles.
Between each trip, you're able to chat with the other contestants in this messed up reality show and make purchases at a central shop.
At its core then, Chaos Rings adheres to role-playing conventions, even though the manner in which it presents each of these elements has fresh appeal.
Take the battle system, for instance. While straightforward in its turn-based structure, the option to issue individual attacks with each member of your two-person party or as a pair is great. It's an option that encourages tactical planning over indiscriminate attacking.
Without displaying the turn order though, that tactical emphasis is undercut. A gauge in the upper-left corner signifies who has the edge in combat, yet it isn't nearly as useful as knowing the turn order. Particularly when an enemy is hastened or your speed reduced, knowing when your actions will be executed in relation to the enemies' would have been helpful.
However the game skews easy, so you're more likely to find yourself overpowering foes rather than them overpowering you.
Fight not think
More of an issue is the impact the spatial puzzles have on the gameplay flow.
Situated within each environment are puzzles that have you moving blocks and collecting crystals to activate switches. They're annoying and clearly added for the sake of variety. Instead of bringing a new dimension, they disrupt the best thing about Chaos Rings: exploration and battling.
Badly drawn maps make exploration more tricky than it could otherwise be, but the simple stages ensure you can't get lost.
Wandering around each locale, picking battles, levelling up your characters - these are elements fundamental to any role-playing game, and they're implemented so well here that you can't help but enjoy it.
The ability to go back a second, third, and fourth time with different duos really enhances the game's longterm value too.
A good pair of genes
Character customisation, which is done by equipping genes acquired from defeated enemies, is another interesting approach to adding and selecting abilities and spells, albeit one that requires some fiddling with menus.
Still, any complaints are akin to a guest spilling a glass of water or the DJ arriving slightly late to the reception - they're unpleasant, but ultimately don't ruin the main event.
The gorgeous presentation, strong battling and adventuring, plus replayability make Chaos Rings a great role-playing game to have and to hold.