War Of The Roses
HIGH Fertile grounds for master tacticians.
LOW Poor English localization and outdated presentation.
WTF Menus that blend behind the UI?!
Chaos Galaxy is a competent menu-based 4X title with pixelated visuals and futuristic-anime inspired aesthetics. Think Dune without the giant worms, plus heroes sporting spiked haircuts and capes.
The game has one mode – the campaign – and once we boot it up, we select a faction to play from a dozen choices. Each nation occupies a set starting point (cluster of planets) within a shared galaxy, and some of them start the game as a vassal state of another ruler. Upon picking a leader, we enter the political scene with the aid of two to three lieutenants, depending on the nation in question. Also, some of the factions begin the story wealthier than others, and perhaps with more commanders that can carry a fleet as well.
As for the fleets we can order around, they’re either agile mechs that can safely travel through asteroid belts, or sturdier (but far slower) warships, some of which can even “dive” in open space to conceal themselves from enemy eyes. The starting choice of a faction largely determines the difficulty of the campaign, though the majority of one’s playthrough will be spent comparing numbers and hoping for a good roll of the dice either way. This is due to how each unit has a myriad of stats that should be taken into account, like its total HP, speed, availability of ranged attacks, or energy points.
It’s worth noting that Chaos Galaxy was originally envisioned for the PC, meaning that it’s primarily played via the on-screen cursor we can move with the analog sticks on the Switch. Luckily, the touch screen controls speed up this process, and I could easily jump between various coordinates of the galaxy in an instant. The same goes for the heated moments as battle commences, when the touch screen allowed me to quickly dispatch a unit to a specific square on the grid-based 2D field.
That’s not to say that this port is perfect, though — I noticed several instances where a particular unit’s menu was obscured by other UI. Plus, the English localization is lackluster, to say the least, with even basic sentences like “We have arrived on the battlefield” turning out as “We have arrived the battlefield” … Such recurring errors did pull me out of the experience a bit, and also reminded me that a single non-US person developed this game entirely by themselves.
Campaign-wise, Chaos Galaxy is similar to other titles in the 4X genre in that it serves a giant map for the player to slowly contemplate upon while chasing one of the few winning conditions. Total victory is not possible only by capturing each of the game’s 50 planets – the more diplomatic routes are also perfectly feasible options. Plus, each of the available factions has a slightly different arc with random events endemic to a chosen nation, spicing things up from time to time. This gives Chaos Galaxy a healthy amount of replay value and hides plenty of exciting opportunities for grand strategic maneuvers.
The main gameplay loop starts with spending resources to fortify our planets, upgrading the trade routes between them to leverage higher income, setting policies, establishing communication with other factions in order to ask for resources, declare war or propose a truce, and then we move our fleet across the galaxy. At all times, we can check the map to gather relevant data about other nations and commanders, the strength of the fleet they govern, and to observe allegiances that might tether nations together — at least, temporarily.
The political landscape in Chaos Galaxy is subject to much change over the course of a playthrough, and following up on the latest developments is easy enough. As such, I’d say there lies the biggest highlight – talking our way into and out of trouble is often a feasible option, especially as our pool of prestige points, earned by combat victories or research breakthroughs, grows.
Therefore, our hands are never tied as to which route we want to take in terms of strategy and it’s possible to outplay the ‘sovereign’ ruler when they’re least expecting it. For example, when two factions clash, the commanders of the defeated army will try and join the ranks of a nearby state later on!
While the AI is smart and can act ruthlessly, it’s actually (mostly) up to the player to initiate conflict. Thus, one can take their time and devote a handful of seemingly uneventful turns just to set the stage for an upcoming streak of aggressive maneuvers. And that right there is the delicious core awaiting every Chaos Galaxy player who was disciplined enough to devote themself to the task of carefully peeling off the hard layers stacked up on each other.
Still, it might not be smooth sailing even with the right mindset, as a bad roll of the dice often resulted in my units missing 75% chance-to-hit shots three times in a row, right before an enemy warship pummelled them with a laser shot while they were hiding behind an asteroid. Such turnarounds make this game’s philosophy quite a double-edged sword: anyone looking for instant gratification and a clear path to victory might get tired of bashing against the game’s many walls even before the tutorial missions conclude…
Ultimately, Chaos Galaxy is a demanding experience that knows how to reward a well-thought-out approach, albeit one’s enjoyment of it can and will depend on their appreciation for the 4X genre and a bit of RNG at times.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Disclosures: This game is developed by ChaosGalaxyStudios and published by EastAsiaSoft. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch Lite. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game has received an “E” rating from the ESRB. The commanders and units are all hand-drawn and anime-inspired, presented via pixelated portraits. Once battle commences, there are quick animations depicting two mecha units performing melee or ranged attacks followed by small explosions and the disappearance of the defeated unit. These animations can be turned off/on at all times.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature any recorded audio, so there’s written text for everything communicated to the player. (See examples above.) Sound is completely unimportant for playing and enjoying this game. It is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: This game does not offer a controller diagram and the controls are not changeable. This is a 4X-turn based title where every decision we make comes from a menu. There’s always a cursor on the screen we can move using the analog sticks or the directional buttons, and we confirm or cancel a choice with the face buttons. On the Switch, we can also utilize the touch screen to issue commands and reposition units across the grid.