Champions of Chaos 2
Epic Llama's turn-based strategy RPG Champions of Chaos 2 casts you as a pair of unlikely heroes out to join the rebel army and improve its reputation enough that neighbouring kingdoms pledge to your cause. Right after you raise these battle llamas. And upgrade your cheerleaders. And do the robot. With a heavy focus on grinding and strategy, Champions of Chaos 2 is a simple yet surprisingly engaging RPG with a lot to offer. Note that only two character classes are available for free. You must like the game on Facebook and approve it on Greenlight (or at least tell the game you did) to unlock two others, while the other five are only available if you purchase the premium edition.
In each kingdom, you'll have to battle your way through a series of tough bouts to prove your worth to the area's ruler. Gameplay is relatively simple. Battles are turn-based, and when your character's turn comes up, you select the action you want them to execute from the menu that appears, and then click on whoever you want to perform said action on... whether it's a beneficial act on a party member or an explosion in a deserving enemy's face. Hit points and magic points are familiar, but you also have a Chaos bar that fills with every action, and will allow you to summon your character class' Totemic Beast when full. As your party gets stronger, you'll level up and learn new abilities, but that's not all. You can buy a combat llama to participate in Llamadrome battles to earn extra cash or special items, grind levels to get stronger to take on the city's heroes to build your reputation, and if you don't mind one-sided cheesecake, you can buy a pair of (increasingly) skimpy cheerleaders who confer various bonuses on you during battle. I dunno. I'm pretty sure the llama would have done a good job with the pom-pom and looked just as good in a shrinking bikini top too.
Analysis: In a weird way, Champions of Chaos 2 sort of reminds me a bit of the very first Final Fantasy, though sadly lacking in guys named Garland ready to knock you down. How difficult the game is largely comes down to the character classes you choose at the start of the game, and each of the available characters has a satisfying roster of unique skills and abilities that means changing your play style depending on who you have. Mages might have powerful magic abilities, for instance, but are weak enough physically that a party composed solely of them might have difficulties, while the Paladin can dish out melee damage but is primarily a support class that can protect and enhance the party in various ways. Of course, that's not to say there won't be a lot of grinding involved... because there will be a lot of it. But with two different possible endings for each character depending on your decisions and a lot of potential strategic combinations, you'll find a lot to sink your teeth into as well.
It can feel like the game is nagging you a bit, with so many characters locked unless you promote or pay. It's not that the game has premium content, it's that it has both premium content and requires you to like them on Facebook/approve on Steam Greenlight for the rest, which seems overboard. One or the other, Champions of Chaos 2. One or the other. Still, there's a lot of gameplay to be had in this free version, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Each of the five kingdoms has their own set of challenges, from party battles to the Llamadrome, and even unique heroes to fight in the tavern. The premium version, in addition to unlocking five more characters with unique attacks, strengths, and weaknesses, also offers what is essentially a "New Game +" mode, allowing you to play through again with your previous party against more powerful enemies and bosses with new attacks.
Champions of Chaos 2's emphasis on combat and the relatively straight-forward repetition of battles isn't a bad thing for players who like streamlined turn-based gaming, but it does mean you'll figure out pretty quickly whether or not it's your thing. It's clearly a labour of love, and the effort gone into everything from the presentation to the simple yet addictive and quirky gameplay is remarkable. If you're a fan of turn-based RPG style combat, llamas, big spells and bigger damage, then this is one snappy little arena fighter that's well worth a round or two. Be sure to vote for it on Steam Greenlight if you'd like to see it for sale through the service.