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Antstream Game of the Month: The Chaos Engine


The game of the month has been chosen by none other than gaming industry legend Jason Kingsley. He also kindly spent some time with us discussing his new book “Leading the Rebellion” which details how he uses the chivalric code to manage his business.




Chaos Engine is a top-down shooter that could be described as a mashup of Smash TV and Gauntlet. Originally released by the Bitmap Brothers in 1993, this is a game which holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers due to its exciting blend of action, strategy, and steampunk aesthetics.


Chaos Engine boast impressive graphics for its time. The game’s steampunk-inspired world is filled with detailed environments, from eerie forests to mechanical factories. The character and enemy sprites are well-designed, and the animations are as smooth as silk. This visual variated across the game’s six different worlds keeps the player engaged and immersed in its dystopian atmosphere.


The game’s soundtrack, composed by Richard Joseph, is memorable, with tracks that suit the game’s dark and industrial setting. The sound effects are also fitting, adding to the overall immersion. While not groundbreaking, the audio compliments the gameplay nicely.


Chaos Engine particularly shines in the gameplay department. It’s an action-packed, top-down shooter that features both single-player and co-op multiplayer modes for up to two players. The player can choose from six different characters, each with unique abilities and stats, allowing for varied playstyles and strategies. This adds a layer of depth to the gameplay as you experiment with different character combinations.


The core gameplay revolves around shooting hordes of enemies, solving puzzles, and collecting keys to progress through each level. What sets Chaos Engine apart is its focus on teamwork, In single-player mode, you control one character while the AI controls the other. In multiplayer, cooperation is essential as each character has specific strengths and weaknesses. This encourages communication and collaboration, making it a great game to play with a friend.


The game's difficulty is challenging but fair, and as you progress, it becomes increasingly demanding. It rewards skilled players who can navigate the intricate level design and master their character's abilities.


The storyline of Chaos Engine is set in a steampunk-inspired alternate universe where a brilliant inventor named Baron Fortesque has created a machine known as the Chaos Engine. This contraption, intended to bring prosperity to the world, instead backfires spectacularly, distorting reality and plunging the world into chaos. The Baron's invention has unleashed a multitude of bizarre creatures and mechanical monstrosities upon the land.



The game's replayability is one of its strengths. The various character combinations and strategies, combined with the cooperative multiplayer mode, provide plenty of reasons to revisit Chaos Engine. Additionally, the game features a "World of Chaos" mode, which remixes the levels and offers an even greater challenge for experienced players.


A Look at the Characters of Chaos Engine


Chaos Engine features a diverse range of characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right combination of characters is crucial to your success in the game. Here’s a breakdown of the characters and their attributes.


Brigand:


Strengths: Brigand is a quick and agile character, making him excellent for dodging enemy attacks. He has a faster firing rate than most characters, allowing him to deal with groups of enemies effectively.


Weaknesses: Brigand has lower health and damage output compared to some of the other characters, which can make him vulnerable in tougher encounters.



Gentleman:


Strengths: Gentleman is a tanky character with high health and excellent damage output. He's a great choice for players who prefer a straightforward, brute-force approach.

Weaknesses: Gentleman is slower than other characters, which can make it challenging to evade enemy attacks and obstacles.



Navvie:


Strengths: Navvie has a unique ability to use dynamite to clear obstacles and deal massive damage to enemies. He's a versatile character with decent health.


Weaknesses: Navvie's dynamite can also damage him if used carelessly, and he doesn't have the fastest movement speed.



Preacher:


Strengths: Preacher has a long-range attack with a powerful shotgun, making him a formidable character for taking out enemies from a distance. His high damage output can be a game-changer.

Weaknesses: Preacher's health is relatively low, and his close-range attack is less effective, so players need to maintain distance from enemies.



Thug:


Strengths: Thug is a balanced character with decent health and damage output. He's a reliable choice for players who want a character that can hold their own in various situations.

Weaknesses: Thug doesn't have any significant weaknesses but lacks the standout strengths of some other characters.



Chaos Engine is a classic that has stood the test of time. Its unique blend of action, strategy, and teamwork, combined with its steampunk aesthetics, makes it a memorable and enjoyable experience. While it may not have the most complex storyline or the most groundbreaking graphics, it more than makes up for it with its engaging gameplay and cooperative multiplayer mode. If you're a fan of retro gaming or looking for a fun co-op experience, Chaos Engine is well worth a playthrough.


Chaos Engine Trivia


The game’s story and setting are inspired by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s novel “The Difference Engine”.


For the US release, the character called Preacher was renamed as Scientist because game with religious connotations would get automatically get mature rating.


The game was renamed “Soldiers of Fortune” in the US.


Chat with Jason Kingsley – The Leader of The Rebellion



Jason Kingsley is a rarity in the games industry, there aren’t many people who can get away with saying that they live as a medieval knight and be taken seriously. However, when Jason says it, you find a strange natural acceptance wash over you. He’s the CEO of one of the powerhouses of British game studios, Rebellion and also owns 2000AD, the comic which gave us Judge Dredd. He is also in the process of building his own castle.


Interviewing Jason isn’t a straight forward experience. He didn’t encourage me to ask a barrage of questions instead we began with an instructional history lesson.


“Did you know that it was once illegal in the medieval period for an English person to be charge with murder?”


And began a fascinating 40 minutes of learning about medieval culture, pastimes and culinary delights. I had, until that day, no idea that porridge was a staple of the medieval diet. It’s not surprising that he hosts a Youtube history channel called Modern History.


Remarkably Jason has been able to use all of this knowledge and expertise (he jousts and has never been knocked off in any tournament) in a practical way. He uses the code of chivalry in order to help run his business ethically and fairly.



“The code is a guideline for making decisions, it helps you focus. In business we problem solve and the chivalric code helps me resolve day to day issues ethically. I use it to guide my moral decisions. For example, if you have got the money, try to pay people quickly. It’s not going to make a difference if it’s in your account for another few days or weeks. They have done a job and deserve to be paid.”


To this end he has written a book “Leading the Rebellion: Questing to Succeed in Work and Life”.


Its a unique business and lifestyle book which allows the reader to obtain a powerful insight into the personal meditations and work philosophies of one of the most successful individuals in gaming. Each chapter focuses on a part of the code and through powerful anecdotes Jason illustrates how they can be used to further your career and bring a healthy balance to your life.

We also covered the topic of games and gaming. Jason has always been a passionate gamer, both in tabletop and electronic formats. He graciously allowed me to ask him a few questions on the subject.


Jason, do you have a favourite Bitmap Brothers game that is currently available on Antstream?


Yes! I love the Chaos Engine and Speedball. I also loved the ambition of Z: Steel Soldiers but it was tough. Once you started to lose in that game, its almost impossible to come back from that and win it. The Chaos Engine is a shooter and I get fired up because of the adrenaline. I love the design choice of making your mate a bit of a ‘baddie’. In single player the AI comes along and steals the coins that are dropped so you are almost in competition with the guy who is supposed to help you.



Tell us something interesting about yourself?


Well, I have several horses and suits of armor. I have a favourite sword for certain circumstances. I have a sword which I prefer to use on foot and one which I prefer to use on horseback. I have struck three people from horseback in a jousting tournament and I have never yet been struck from the saddle. I have also had heated discussions with museum curators about where or not aspects of their collections were actually used or not. I have this suspicion that the things we see in museums are the items that were expensive and not used very often.


To carry on the discussion about Chaos Engine and other fantastic retro games, head on to Antstream Arcade's discord: https://discord.gg/antstream



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