The Causes of Chaos - Zzap!64 reviews

3rd May 2005

I have lifted the text from both of these reviews from the Gamesbase64 web-site's Game of the Week page at http://www.gb64.com/oldsite/gameofweek/10/gotw_causesofchaos.htm. Their version is prettier than mine, and I urge you to read it instead. This copy is just insurance in case their page goes away.

Preview (from issue 9, 12th December 1985)

THE CAUSES OF CHAOS
A Preview of the next release from CRL

The White Wizard would have liked to have brought you a full review of this interesting new release from CRL, but the fact that it isn't due for launch until just after you read this -- sometime in January to be precise, and the absence of proper documentation means that I can only give it the preview treatment at this stage.

It warrants a preview, however, because it does look quite interesting. First, it's a multiplayer game that can accommodate up to six players, though you may want to play it on your own if you wish. Second, there are some unusual features to the program that deserve to be mentioned -- even I wasn't able to explore its glories to the full.

The multiplayer option is extremely well implemented. You choose not only the number of players, but also the number of turns each player will be allowed while they're at the keyboard. Each player enters a name and from then on, as you wander around the different locations, you'll come across your colleagues in the game. So if you're playing with James, John and the White Wizard, you may come across a location and be told that the White Wizard and James are also here . . . -- John, of course, is somewhere else.

To make things pretty interesting, the player(s) are dumped in different locations at the start of the game, and this is varied at random each time you play. There also appeared to be slight changes in the locations themselves, but unfortunately the man at CRL with all the answers was away when I called.

The plot concerns the King of Ix, whose crown jewels (upon which his power depends) have been stolen. As a result, the land has been afflicted by a dreadful plague and you must sally forth and retrieve the treasures. If you're playing the one-player game, then you must simply get on with it (and that doesn't seem all that easy), but if you've got playmates then you're in for a rough ride. Although you can of course decide to form alliances, discuss strategies etc, the basic format of the program puts you in conflict with each other. If you fall foul of another player, it's a fight to the death and the loser leaves the game.

The combat routines between players depend on the two assailants facing each other across the keyboard and hitting keys as fast as they can. First to the key is first to strike, and the blows fall thick and fast! I only hope your 64 keyboard is up to it.

Causes of Chaos looks a promising investment for the New Year. I'll bring you more details next month, together with proper ratings.

Review (from issue 10, 9th January 1986)

CAUSES OF CHAOS
CRL, 8.95 cass

The White Wizard took a quick look at this game last month, and I've now had time to play it rather more thoroughly. The news, I'm afraid, is not all that good.

The trouble with multi-player games is that a lot of effort tends to be put into the mechanics of role-sharing and not enough into the actual game itself. Causes of Chaos suffers particularly in this way -- you can have up to six players, but the game is hardly enough to sustain the attention of one person, let alone all six.

Readers who caught last month's column will know that the aim of the game is to recover six treasures from the evil Count Vladimir and restore them to their rightful owner, King Arnid, whose power depends on them. Unfortunately, the scope of the game is somewhat limited because of the inadequate parser. Typical responses are 'You can't see it from here,' which occurs frequently and quite independently of the location descriptions. This means that if you're told you're standing by a cliff, entering 'Examine cliff' will, likely as not, result in your being told you can't see it.

Other oddities include getting the response 'You can't while you're carrying it' following the input 'Break lock' while trying to open a door, and the ridiculous episode where, to look inside a 'small, empty case', you must enter it! The White Wizard is of average height and does not think he should be allowed to enter a small case without casting some very tricky spells.

If you ran cope with the parser and can find some other companions who ore equally prepared to make allowances, then you might have a few hours of fun with Causes of Chaos. The combat routines are pretty basic, and probably not too healthy for your keyboard since they involve hitting a key before your opponent, but they do add some action which is all too often missing from adventure games. If you got this one for Christmas then don't complain, but I think you should think twice before spending hard-earned cash on it.

Atmosphere55%
Interaction50%
Lasting Interest57%
Value for Money50%
Overall53%

Feedback to <mike@miketaylor.org.uk> is welcome!