On the surface, Chaos Wars may look like your typical SRPG. Non- battle scenes are filled with stills of cute anime characters and ridiculous facial expressions while battle scenes are filled with over-the-top attacks and silly looking monsters. Even the English dubbing is bad, which seems to be the norm for most games of this genre.
What surprised me was that even though the battlefield looks like it was made from a grid-like pattern like your typical SRPG, movement actually takes place outside of a grid. Movement and attacks revolve around circles. A large circle around one character represents that character's movement range. Attacks also relate to how close an enemy is within a character's circle. This type of orientation is new to me, so I had to develop different strategies to ensure maximum damage.
Another thing that stood out was that characters constantly regenerate HP and SP during battles. The SP I can understand since every attack uses some amount of SP. But the HP was hard for me to deal with at first because it seemed to make battles long and drawn out because the enemy that you would think is close to death in one round will regenerate enough health to last two more hits the next round. This was annoying, but I conquered it by having my teammates gang up and use group attacks on single characters to wipe them out in only a few turns.
The game doesn't just stop at customizing what your team members can equip. It also lets you assign skills (which can be picked up as a spoil of battle) to different team members, which is a nice change from specific characters or classes always getting the same set of skills. I haven't gone that far into the game, but the fact that skills can also evolve seems to open up lots of variety in terms of character building.
The story is your typical anime story and I got annoyed by the tired banter between characters, but I realized I was just eager to try out the new battle mechanics. It takes a bit getting used to, but the circle-movement system is a welcome change for people tired of the grid system.
When I first started playing Chaos Wars, I thought that it would be strictly linear: a cut scene, a battle, another cut scene, another battle, and so on until the entire story is told. That sounds pretty boring, so fortunately the game isn't like that.
The story is done through main story missions that can be chosen in the headquarters computer-like thing. You can find keys to other worlds in battles and other events and with those keys, you can use the computer to open gates to those other worlds. The other worlds contain main story missions as well as side-missions.
This isn't a new concept at all and the game is still linear, but it's a welcome change to just playing story missions all the way through.
On an unrelated note, I got a little careless while playing the game and started haphazardly equipping my characters with other weapons solely based on how much of an attack bonus the weapon had. I found out the hard way, when I was trying to fight some enemies in the next mission, that characters' skills depend on weapon type. If a character only has ax skills but is using a rusty pole, he's pretty much screwed for the battle. Oops, don't make the same mistake I did.
Images courtesy of O3 Entertainment.