Sometime in the last century an experimenter with time space and early computers created a bizarre machine...The Chaos Engine
(Soldiers of Fortune
in the US) is a top-down shooter with RPG elements set in a steampunk setting, originally developed for the Amiga
by the Bitmap Brothers
and published by Renegade Software in 1993. According to the manual
A time traveller on a reconnaissance mission from the distant future became stranded in England of the late 1800s, and his technology came into the hands of Baron Fortesque
, who wound up creating the titular Chaos Engine. Unfortunately, the experiment predictably went out of control
, became self-aware
, assimilated its creator
and loosed an army of temporally-displaced creatures, robots and mutants.
Players choose two out of six mercenaries to fight their way through the monster-infested wilderness
, the steam-powered city
, Baron Fortesque's spacially distorted mansion
, and finally the automaton-filled cellars containing the Chaos Engine itself
. Along the way gameplay revolves as much around fighting monsters as it does solving puzzles and finding secrets, due to the pressing need to accumulate money to purchase weapon and skill upgrades.
A sequel was released in 1996, changing the gameplay from exploration-focused shooter with 2 character cooperating to a death-match game with both characters actively opposing each other. While praised at the time of release, the game is usually overlooked in favor of its predecessor.
This game contains examples of the following:
- A Taste of Power: A variation. In 1-4 there's a Party Power power-up lying in plain sight. When it's active you'll get to see how powerful your character can become by the end of the game with max speed and max weapon level.
- Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: World 4 the Cellars.
- Action Bomb: Every single enemy in the game. Anything hostile explodes upon contact and causes a ton of damage. Enemies that lack projectiles use this as their main attack.
- Alternate History: Victorian England meets reverse-engineered future technology.
- And I Must Scream: Baron Fortesque is still awake and aware inside the Chaos Engine, and can't do a thing to stop it except guide the mercenaries to its location.
- Antagonist Title
- Artificial Stupidity: Your NPC companion. The Wisdom stat is supposed to improve their AI, but it's debatable how well it prevents them from walking straight in front of a wide-open enemy spawn point.
- Badass: All 6 mercenaries. Each one being a One-Man Army is basically why they were hired in the first place.
- Bowdlerize: Some versions of the game change the name of the Preacher to Scientist and edit out his white collar.
- Chaos Is Evil
- Church Militant: Preacher.
- Collision Damage
- Crapsack World: the United Kingdom is not a nice place once the Chaos Engine has taken over.
- Difficult, But Awesome: Gentleman. His Party Power special ability is a bit of a let-down, but Repel Monster is extremely powerful when used right, as it can send even the homing energy balls in 4-4 fleeing away while you deal with the generators.
- Double Unlock: The Skill stat. On its own it does nothing, but you have to keep raising it to make other upgrades available for purchase.
- Dumb Muscle: Thug, having the lowest Wisdom stat but tied with the Navvie for sheer offensive power.
- Dump Stat: Health. You should always try to have your health at peak when entering the shop, because you're better off leaving some money unspent than filling your health back up to make the next Skill upgrade available. If you're near-death, then forking over 500 pounds for an extra life is often cheaper.
- Escort Mission: Of a sort. It's a good idea to keep your NPC companion alive, since if they run out of lives you have to pay to revive them between levels, which in turn means less money to spend on advancing your character.
- Every 7000 Points earn you an Extra Life.
- Final Boss: The Chaos Engine, which is notably also the only boss in the game.
- Four Is Death: Four worlds with four levels each. The Chaos Engine itself also has four connections the four corners of the level that must be cut before you can confront it directly.
- Game Level
- Guide Dang It: Getting to the secret exit in 3-3: Reverse requires having a character with a special that can activate a node located on a lower level. A lot of other secrets qualify, and given the game's age and obscurity, good luck finding a comprehensive guide.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Starting with the lizard-human creatures in 1-2.
- Happy Ending Override: The Chaos Engine 2 is this in its entirety. The Chaos Engine wasn't really destroyed. The mercenaries didn't escape. Oh, and Baron Fortesque is still completely evil.
- Hoist By Their Own Petard: Baron Fortesque, big time.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Cans of food are the main source of healing.
- The Heavy: Navvie and Thug both qualify.
- Invincibility Power-Up: Shield.
- Jack of All Stats: Brigand and Mercenary, lacking the offensive power of Navvie/Thug, and the weakness of Gentleman/Preacher.
- Large Ham Announcer: Players activated! Food! Special Power! Four! Three! Two! One! Extra Life! Exit open!
- Left Hanging: The Chaos Engine 2 ends with the reveal that Baron Fortesque has somehow merged with the Chaos Engine into some kind of evil cyborg thing, and the all the players' efforts in the game have only resulted in him being set free to wreak havoc.
- Meaningful Name: The levels each get one.
- Nintendo Hard
- Non-Combat EXP: Upgrades only require money, and although every enemy drops a quickly-disappearing coin upon defeat, the main source of grinding is finding treasure. Upgrading your weapon through power-ups in secret areas is also more economic than buying them.
- The Maze: World 3 Fortesque Mansion is filled with invisible teleporters and passages that cut off when you approach. The levels are linear enough that it's easy to find the exit, but really difficult to find the hidden areas full of money and power-ups.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The ending of the Chaos Engine 2 reveals the entire game was this.
- The Medic: Preacher has the lowest health of all the mercenaries, but starts with the First Aid special ability, making him an excellent choice for your NPC companion.
- Painfully Slow Projectile: On the enemies' side, thankfully.
- Rated M for Manly: At least five out of six mercenaries, and the Navvie's mustache counts double.
- The Reveal: The hammy announcer throughout the game is Baron Fortesque himself, communicating to you from within the Chaos Engine.
- Robotic Reveal: At the end of Chaos Engine 2 Baron Fortesque reveals that underneath the human face you freed at the end of the first game is another layer of machinery. Also he's on fire for some reason.
- Sequential Boss: After depleting the Chaos Engine's first life bar the screaming head of the baron is revealed and the boss gains a devastating 8-directional laser attack.
- Status Buff: Party Power raises all stats to max for a short time.
- Video Game Lives