Platforms: Android and iOS
We played on: Android
Chain Chronicle is a pretty straightforward mobile RPG from Gumi Entertainment. It’s entertaining, though it has a slow start. The story is almost interesting, and the character designs and animations are pretty. I can’t say it’s one of my favorite games ever, but for a free mobile game I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The gameplay is fun, though repetitive; all battles pit you against the same enemies, with the same structure, but there’s room for strategy. Unfortunately, the plot and dialogue are contrived and stale, but the character designs are lovely.
You start the game as a bland young man whose name you can choose. You quickly recruit several followers who you can switch out if you choose to. Each has a modifier on their name—like “Virtuous Kain”—that sort of describes who they are (and they don’t get much more complicated than their respective adjectives). There are over 200 different followers you can recruit, and part of the draw is finding new ones whose designs or battle techniques you like. It’s sort of exciting to turn over a new recruit card and find out who you got this time, and each follower has a short quest that gives you a little bit more information about their personality, though none are particularly deep or thoughtful characterizations. The setting is a continent with six kingdoms that were united under the Holy King, but disintegrated after the king died in battle against the mysterious Black Troops from the Black Army. You are part of the small army that is attempting to defend against the Black Troops.
You run into a young woman who says some vaguely prophetic stuff about you being Chosen or Fated or the One, and then falls unconscious. When you meet her again later, she has developed amnesia and has no memory of herself, but agrees to follow you around in case her memory comes back. She “has a strong feeling about you,” of course. She also has a book that seems to spew out Black Troops at random, and a couple of seemingly evil pursuers.
Battles are real-time strategy, and are conducted on a small grid. You occupy the right half of the field, and the enemies appear at intervals on the other side of the field to attack you. You can select any one of your characters and slide them to a different square. They all have certain attack formations that work. Warriors, for example, can only slide forward if an enemy is directly in front of them, though they will attack an enemy peripherally if the field ends up that way. Archers and magic-users can attack from any distance on the field, but only if the enemy is positioned horizontally from them. A healer will automatically heal those near them. You get some boosts and that sort of thing at the beginning of each wave of enemies, including the ability to use special attacks.
You can also choose a guest character prior to each battle. A list appears of other players’ characters, and you simply select the one you want, and are able to play them on the field. The other players aren’t actually present for these battles—you’re not playing multiplayer, simply making use of their character. After the battle is done, you can opt to send them a friend request. If they accept, you’ll be able to use their special abilities on the field (and vice versa, if someone else sends you a friend request). There is no chat or anything along those lines. There are some player-versus-player modes available, but they’re separate from the main game, and again, there is no option to actually speak with other players.
Chain Chronicle’s battles aren’t riveting, if only because you’re doing the same thing over and over again, but they do manage to keep your attention. The battlefield is small. Keeping your followers alive is key, and strategy mostly involves positioning and using special attacks—usually against a large boss that comes in the last wave of enemies. I would have had a better time I think if the loading screens between each battle weren’t so long. There are a lot of loading screens in this game, and for battle sequences that end up being fairly short, there’s a lot of waiting around.
There are opportunities for in-app purchases, as well. They’re not overly obtrusive, but it’s clear that this is a free-to-play game with a lot of microtransactions available to you. Chain Chronicle is rated E10+, and does have a significant catalog of scantily clad characters—mostly women, but men too—and some mildly flirtatious dialogue, but there is no blood or strong language.
Overall I was mildly entertained with Chain Chronicle for a good while, and it’s a nice mobile game. I suspect I’ll get bored with it quickly, but I’ll definitely be keeping it on my phone, which is more than I can say for a lot of free-to-play mobile games. The loading screens and in-app purchases are almost too frustrating to make it worthwhile, and the story and characters aren’t terribly engaging (despite having lovely designs and artwork), but I enjoyed the battle mechanics and the recruit-collecting. I would recommend this to kids and tweens who like card-collecting, character design, and Japanese RPGs, but who want to steer clear of adult content.