Fans of the various iterations of Generations of Chaos (from PS2 to PSP, and now Android) will say it’s the sort of game “where you get as much out of it as you put in”.
A successor to the flawed conversion of Spectral Souls, HyperDevbox’s strategy-RPG keeps that game’s premium (just under a tenner) price and promises a daunting 100-hours of isometric tactical gameplay.
While you’ll get your money back in terms of content, the chances are the irksome controls and near disastrous lack of a decent tutorial will mean you’ll still feel seriously short-changed.
You start the game with a choice of kingdoms to fight for, Zodia and Dravania, with the latter being labelled as “for beginners”. Presumably, this refers to the difficulty level alone, as both offer only the bare minimum of guidance for new players.
After a short cut-scene, referring to nations and characters you probably know nothing about (this being the fourth game in a pretty obscure series), you can cycle through some brief text notes on movement, combat, magic, and strategy.
After that, you’re on your own. You have to single-handedly learn how to control your Warlords (who command armies), fortify your cities, and expand your kingdom by fighting massive 30 vs 30 battles that occur whenever units clash.
The story - which is full of political twists, turns, and lots of people shouting, “To arms!” (as well as an eagle with an anachronous cutesy baby voice) - is relayed before each chapter to give you some guidance, but the lack of in-game help is alarming.
Instead, your first few hours will be spent wrestling with a control scheme ported over from the PSP that’s clunkier than a knight’s armour lined with lead.
Generation of Chaos is almost entirely menu-driven and the labyrinthine options are maddening to navigate with only a fixed D-pad and three buttons. You’ll forever be cycling through options trying to find the right selection, only to to slip when pressing ‘A’ or ‘B’ and find yourself dumped back to where you started.
The D-pad is just as cumbersome for navigating the vast gridded maps that make up each level, as you have to scroll about to look for enemies and units - with no option to zoom-out for a wider view.
With managing your kingdom being a painfully slow affair, incorporating endless (often wholly unexplained) responsibilities, it’s left to the battle engine to enliven the experience.
The isometric, almost SNES-like sprites look rather charming as they hurl themselves at each other, and there’s some spectacle to be enjoyed before you realise that you’re actually supposed to be helping the war effort.
With troop tactics to choose before battle and the deployment of impressively animated special attacks mid-scrap, there’s a lot of "hot menu" action to keep you on your toes.
The problem is, with the AI tending to trip over itself, pummel scenery, and dither around like a husband Christmas shopping in a lingerie store, protecting your vulnerable Commander becomes your only priority - so there’s little chance to enjoy the show.
If you’re willing to put up with the outdated controls and endless menu tinkering, Generation of Chaos undoubtedly offers a rich tactical experience that improves if you’re willing to persevere with its intricacies.
Less hardcore - or masochistic - strategists, meanwhile, would be better off fleeing back to the likes of Great Little War Game, where tactics and tactile controls go hand-in-hand.