When the man that made XCOM asks you to fund a Kickstarter campaign, you listen. It's been more than a year and a half since Julian Gollop raised $210,854 to remake Chaos: The Battle of Wizards and from the time I've spent with the game in Early Access, I'd say he's done a pretty fine job. It's now almost time to see the full release, with version 1.0 planned for the 26th October.
Chaos Reborn, like its predecessor, is a turn-based strategy game with one very important twist. Each player controls a wizard and takes turns performing wizardly actions (like casting a spell or summoning a creature), but that very important twist comes with each of these actions having a percentage attached to them. Summoning a giant, for example, only works 40% of the time. But that's not your only option! You can fake it - summoning an illusionary creature instead, that's just as powerful as the real thing. There's a big risk here though, as an illusion can be 'disbelieved' by other players, at no extra cost (if they're right). Make the mistake of disbelieving a real creature, however, and you'll see your action wasted, silenced from casting any further spells that turn. So Chaos Reborn is all about reading your opponent, trying to figure out what kind of risks they might take and playing the odds. It's brilliant.
As you'd imagine, this is a lot more engaging whilst playing against other human beings. We did see a singleplayer campaign introduced back in July, as promised by the Kickstarter, but it didn't do much for me. You know, really, I think that's been my issue with watching this game progress through Early Access. The strategy game I wanted to play was there from the start; everything else just feels a bit like clutter. Maybe that's why it hasn't maintained the active community it once had - finding others players isn't as easy as it used to be and you see a lot of the same names reappearing these days.
Hopefully this month's launch will help with that, featuring an 'upgraded interface' for existing players, as well as an 'extensive tutorial' for those new to the game. Gollop has stated that version 1.0 won't mark the end of development either, with new spells and game modes still planned for future updates. It's also worth pointing out that a handful of features mentioned in the original Kickstarter campaign have yet to make it into the game, notably the ranks of demigod and god, although these are also promised within the next couple of months.
Finally, if you have been playing in Early Access so far, your account will be reset as the game launches! Time to have a second stab at maintaining a decent win/loss ratio, folks.