My look at the new indie game, Chaos
It’s not as much of a problem these days, but a few years ago, when PC gaming and streaming really started to soar in popularity, some people started to take advantage of the influx of potential buyers. They developed games that have come to be known as “Shovelware”. Shovelware has been around as long as gaming has, but it became a huge problem with online distributors. These were quick games that required very little money to produce, but generally made absolutely no sense, or were virtual copies of other games. They were sold on the cheap through distribution platforms like Steam, who at the time didn’t have as strong of a filter for this kind of stuff, and people picked enough of ‘em up for the devs to make some quick profit, taking advantage of the mentality that says, “A full game for the price of a candy bar? Count me in!”
So. Let’s talk about Chaos. The first game released by TWRelectronics’ Brenden Henry who runs an electronics company that aims to fight obsolescence in tech.
Chaos is not shovelware. It is, however, underdeveloped..
Chaos is not shovelware. It is, however, underdeveloped. If you take a quick peek at Brenden’s instagram account, or his website, you’ll see pretty quick that he really loves this game, and he’s worked hard on it. It’s a passion project, really; and that is, in my opinion, the first step to making a really great piece of art. That’s what devs that are in love with their work are all trying to do, at the end of the day: create a piece that they’re proud of, and think others can enjoy with them. Thing is, I think for a first project, Brenden bit off a bit more than he could chew.
The world of Chaos is a sprawling landscape made even more enormous by your characters painfully slow walking speed. My first 40 minutes or so were spent almost exclusively walking around the starting landscape – a sort of valley biome with a whole bunch of red grass and trees, and a few empty huts. After crash landing on this planet, and receiving no direction from the game other than how to get out of your ship, you’re sort of just set to meandering about. If you don’t choose wisely, you’ll end up walking for what feels like ages, to one song by music designer Vic Freeman on repeat.
Had this world been significantly smaller, or just a little bit more fleshed out (i.e., some direction from the game on where to go using more clues or hints), this wouldn’t have been a problem. But the dev very clearly wanted to make a world that’s size wowed you. And I’d be totally on board with that, provided some more time was spent filling that world.
In fact, my initial reaction when I had played this game for about an hour – in what I thought was early access – was, “Man, this game could be a lot of fun, can’t wait to see it finished in a couple months!” Unbeknownst to me, however, it was actually released the day before.
The game looks quite beautiful, honestly. Great attention was given to the bloom effects, and it really shows.
The game looks quite beautiful, honestly. Great attention was given to the bloom effects, and it really shows. They unquestionably stack up against some much higher budget games, but the landscape itself doesn’t showcase that terribly well – it tends to be monotonous and empty, unfortunately. The story also has some promise, but again, would have been better serviced by a smaller world. The interesting aspects, like walking on a rainbow between castles (albeit empty ones, except for a staircase around the wall), or running from a giant boulder down a winding hill (which, PSA, will smoosh you and send you back to the title, erasing an hour of gameplay if you don’t know it’s coming) Indiana Jones style, are simply too few and far between.
So, what’s the place for Chaos? It’s not shovelware, but it’s also not worth a $20 price tag on Steam fully released (where it’s at right now). I think the place for Chaos is early access, where Brenden and his team can work on it for a few more months, add some things to really push you forward in the beginning of the game, and really flesh out what they already have. I’d love to give it another go in a few months (as they are doing updates), and see a more finished product – a few more songs here and there, a faster way to travel, and maybe some more detail in the beginning of the story to keep you going. Until then though, Chaos remains, to me, an unfinished game with real untapped potential.