I for one am happy that Steam brought this game back from the 90s. Not only that, but they upgraded it with achievements! For those that don’t know, Chaos Engine is a difficult cooperative top down 8 way shooter known as Soldiers of Fortune on the Super Nintendo. You select from six mercenaries each with their own weapons, special talents and stats. The stats can even be upgraded every 2 levels by spending currency that you find on the ground and from killing enemies.
Speaking of killing enemies, don’t think this is some cake walk. Every enemy is deadly and can kill you. Your mercenaries body is just as chunky as the enemies, so if they can’t dodge your bullets, you can’t dodge theirs without some quick reflexes. That alone is a warning, if that’s not you, turn around and find another game.
The controls feel stiff, using the special abilities feels odd, you need to hold one button to prime it and press another when it is ready. Sadly this takes a while, to top that off you can often use two when you only mean to use one. The shooting forces your character to a stand still. This is not a dual stick shooter like Smash TV, you need to face the enemies before you shoot at them. On top of that collision detection seems off in terms of things hitting you when they shouldn’t. Even with all of these issues, somehow it all works, its fun and entertaining. Map design is good, each level is almost a maze of staircases and walls that open up to reveal other paths. You’ll never get lost and everything seems bite sized in the maze. Finding gold keys will open walls, silver keys will move objects. The object of the game really seems to destroy nodes / towers in each level to open up the exit door.
Chaos Engine is a quick game, each world has 4 levels and they feel like a healthy size, just because you can’t just run through it, you need to take it slow. The game has limited lives, and you’ll find lives along the way, but you can also buy lives and health every 2 levels as well. When you die, you restart at the last checkpoint, but lose all of your lives, you’ll need to restart from the last save at the beginning of each level. The gun upgrades are nice and offer more bullets for a wider gun.
This game is also a forced cooperative game, meaning, even if you’re one player alone, the game will stick you with an AI partner. The AI seems competent enough, but you’ll still be doing the majority of the work and pushing forward. You can still use 2 player cooperative on the same computer and also 2 player cooperative over Steam, but honestly, I can’t find anyone whenever I try to host game or join a game. You can invite friends, but alas no friends have this game. You can make use of your partner’s special abilities as long as they’re alive. Its a nice feature.
I was lucky enough to pick up this gem of a game in a bundle, and Steam has had it on sale for $2. While I can recommend the game at a full $10, its best that you wait.