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...a spiral of fate, spun from two lives...
...a fate that will lead to the end of all things...
...the door has been opened...
The first entry in the Chaos Rings series.
Four Battle Couples suddenly find themselves trapped in a mysterious place known as the Ark Arena. Their host, a being known as The Agent, informs them that they have been entered into a competition where they must fight to the death. The victors are awarded Immortality and eternal youth. The losers- or those who refuse to play by the Ark Arena's rules- are condemned to oblivion. Thus, each couple must work together to survive the trials that lie ahead, discovering in the process just why they have been paired together and what the purpose of the Ark Arena is.
The couples are:
- Escher and Musiea: He's a cocky mercenary; she's a Lady of War who has sworn to kill him. Just why has the Ark Arena seen fit to pair the two together, and can they trust each other long enough to survive its trials?
- Eluca and Zhamo: She's a cynical, battle-hardened royal bodyguard; he's the naive but determined prince of a southern kingdom. Yet why is there a strange tension between them, and will Zhamo's inexperience drag them both down?
- Ayuta and Mana: He's a lowly stablehand; she's the princess of an eastern kingdom. Will the love of these Star-Crossed Lovers survive the Ark Arena, and why is Ayuta a natural at combat despite never having held a sword before?
- Olgar and Vahti: He's a brutal warlord; she's his beloved wife. Their relationship seems clear enough, but why do they know more about the Ark Arena than anyone else?
Each couple has their own playable scenario, each one revealing more about themselves and the nature of the Ark Arena, with a final chapter unlocked after at least one scenario has been completed. The battle system is turn-based, with playable characters given the option to act solo or together with their partner. Fighting in unison combines the power and abilities of both characters, but any attack received will target both of them.
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- Adam and Eve Plot: But not in the standard After the End way, thanks to Time Travel. A bit in Ayuta's route also addresses the fact that only two people makes for a poor gene pool, noting that First Couples are dropped off at a point where humanity has already emerged.
- After Combat Recovery: All HP is restored after winning a battle. MP is not, however, unless you have the MP Recovery skill.
- The Ageless / Healing Factor: The Agent offers this as the Prize. It's not true Complete Immortality, however, since the Healing Factor does not extend to fatal wounds. It is also useless against the Qualia, which can neutralize it, and is removed if the beneficiary returns to the Ark Arena.
- Alternate Universe: Characters' backstories differ based on who you're playing as, implied to be because each takes place in an alternate timeline.
- Escher and Musiea: In their own story, Escher killed the priests who raised Musiea and admits it, but in Eluca's story, he claims Musiea is mistaken and that it was a traitor to his organization that killed her family instead. And in Ayuta and Olgar's stories, they've always been lovers; in Ayuta's he doesn't even care for the immortality that he desires in other routes!
- Eluca and Zhamo: In other people's stories, Eluca swears to protect Prince Zhamo, where in their own story he's a noble that she's been ordered to execute; she has to come around to the ideas that the current king should be deposed and that Zhamo could replace him.
- Ayuta and Mana: Escher's and Eluca's stories only show the Star-Crossed Lovers part, but in their own route, it's more complicated thanks to Ayuta's amnesia and Mana's Secret Identity. And in Olgar and Vahti's story, Ayuta has his memory from the start and is a major Jerkass towards them because of it.
- Olgar and Vahti: In their own story they're less secretive about having done this before. Also, this route drops Garrick and Alto entirely. In Ayuta's story, Olgar (and Vahti to a degree) are ironically the ones who Took a Level In Jerkass, becoming excessively arrogant and bloodthirsty in order to bait Ayuta.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different
- Another Side Another Story: Four campaigns, one for each couple.
- Artificial Difficulty: In Olgar's story, you are forced to fight alone for one dungeon.
- Battle Couple: Everyone is split into couples of the opposite sex. You find out just why later.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: Eluca, the poor girl. And right before a boss battle, too.
- BFS: Or BF Axe, in Olgar's case. Although Escher's sword is pretty long...
- Block Puzzle
- Break Meter: An interesting variation. Rather than one for each battler, there's one for the entire battle. When the gauge is tilted towards the player, your attacks do more damage, and enemy attacks do less. When the gauge is tilted towards the enemies, the opposite is true. Critical hits, hitting weaknesses, or just attacking can increase or decrease the gauge balance.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience/Color-Coded Elements: The spells are color coded by their element (red, green, or blue), as a healing spell (yellow), or as non-elemental (white).
- Combination Attack: Choosing Pair instead of Solo in battle allows both characters to perform the same action, usually for spectacular results. This means both characters will be hit by any attacks aimed their way, but it also means that they share any damage blocking or reflecting abilities.
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: If you die in anything other than a boss battle, you'll just wake up next to Piu-Piu with a percentage of your money gone. He Handwaves this as their being no real predators, scavengers, or bacteria on the Arc to disturb the bodies.
- Disc One Final Boss: The Agent. The game even rolls the credits, and boots the players back to the menu afterwards, and it's not until the player reloads their file that they can enter Bereshith Road. The Almighty appears as the final boss of the individual scenarios, but once the player beats all four, they can beat the true final boss; The Qualia.
- Dual Boss: The fights against the other couples, which are fought twice per scenario.
- Duel Boss:
- Happens in Olgar's scenario, when he fights Ayuta one on one to be reunited with the real Vahti.
- Escher also gets a one-on-one fight against Musiea.
- And Eluca gets one against herself.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors The elemental spells follow this, with Blaze being strong against Gale, which is strong against Aqua, which is strong against Blaze.
- Elevator Action Sequence: Twice in the true final dungeon, both boss battles. Once against the Reaper and once against the Agent (again).
- Elite Mook: Everything you find in Bereshith Road.
- Encounter Repellant: The Pheromones ability allows you to turn encounters on and off.
- Exposed to the Elements: Justified as all the environments are artificial.
- Faux Symbolism: The Agent is dressed like a Catholic bishop and has crosses decorating his body for no apparent reason.
- Flying Seafood Special: The fish enemies.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The Ark Arena's purpose is to train humanity to fight against one of these.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Agent and the Almighty both have glowing eyes.
- Hailfire Peaks: The level "Clashing Grounds"/"Frosty Omen" is that. The first part of it is what seems like a frozen mountain, and the second part is what seems like a volcano.
- Hammerspace: Where everyone but Ayuta and Escher seem to keep their weapons when not in battle.
- Happily Ever After
- Hub Level: The Ark Arena itself serves as one.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: All of the healing items for HP and MP are food.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: They are randomly placed at predetermined locations. The higher level the enemies, the better the goodies in them will be. At the highest levels, you can encounter locked chests, which can only be opened with a consumable Key, but often contain equipment superior to what you are wearing or can buy for a while.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: The Key items, which can open any locked treasure chest, but are consumed upon doing so.
- Interface Spoiler: When multiple characters have identically-named equipment, the different versions are noted with the character's initials. So when one of Mana's armors is marked "S" and not "M", you know something's up. Earlier on, one of Mana's armors is called Princess Coat (Fake)
- Involuntary Tournament To The Death: Each of the couples eventually has to face the others until only one couple is left.
- I Will Protect Her: A common sentiment for the male characters towards their partners.
- Multiple Endings: Each couple can choose to go through the First Door, and start humanity over again. Or you can go and face the Almighty, and once all four couples have, the Qualia.
- Mythology Gag: A few of the stages resemble some Square Enix games, like when you battle in the corridors, they look like the basements of the Mansion in Kingdom Hearts II. Also, call it a fan guess but Escher's attitude and history make him seem like a combination of Axel and Cloud. And finally, one of the bonus bosses is a Genomoth (giant turtle) with extremely pale skin that looks almost like bone with a white tree that resembles the ones you see in Advent Children's Forgotten City. That boss's name is ...
- New Game+: Uses those exact words too.
- Nobody Poops: The subject is brought up during Eluca's route. Piu-Piu throws out some Techno Babble but the short answer is that there's some Year Inside, Hour Outside going on; despite what it feels like they haven't actually been on the Ark Arena long enough to need to use the facilities.
- Opposites Attract
- People Jars: The cold sleep containers on the Ark. They are where Theia's cloned body was stored, where Ayuta is stored in between tournaments, assuming he didn't win, and where Vahti is stored after she is kidnapped.
- Phlebotinum Breakdown: On Ayuta's and Olgar's routes, it's revealed that the Ark is starting to break down since each loop brings it closer to the Qualia. One of the consequences of this breakdown is that contestants are actually being killed by the system instead of just being sent back to their original time.
- Pinata Enemy: "Billiken" (panda) enemies. They only show up rarely at higher difficulties, but they're worth a lot of EXP. They also tend to run when low on health, making them a Metal Slime as well.
- Platonic Cave: The dungeons within the Ark Arena are quickly discovered to be fake: as if being able to walk around "backstage" didn't give it away, Piu-Piu admits straight out when asked that it's all just a big studio set.
- Plot Coupon: First the rings, and then the "proof".
- Power Copying: Gene Plates gain new abilities by defeating monsters in the same group, although you're not guaranteed to get an ability every time.
- The Power of Love
- Powers as Programs: The Genes system, which allows you to equip up to three Gene Plates on each character, with each Plate having up to 6 abilities on it.
- Psychic Powers: Humanity has developed telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and teleportation as a result of the Ark's "breeding program", but you can only use them inside puzzle rooms, for some reason.
- Randomly Drops: Items, but they're not the big offender. The abilities for the Gene Plates don't always drop, although fighting higher leveled enemies and having the More Genes ability help.
- Rare Candy "Seed" type items in all three games. They boost your stats based on what kind of seed you take.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Agent. For those who want to say he's a robot, remember that he was organically grown...
- Don't forget the Atmans.
- Sprite Polygon Mix: 2D backgrounds, 3D foregrounds, just like the PS-generation Final Fantasy games
- Stable Time Loop: Or rather, Stable Time Spiral. The Almighty sends the winner of the tournament back 10,000 years to crossbreed with emerging humanity, creating an even stronger crop of contestants the next time around. This has happened 2004 times, including the current iteration.
- Time Travel
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: The couples are summoned to the Ark Arena when the sun goes dark. But it's not the moon doing it, it's the Qualia.
- Vendor Trash: "Piu-Piu's Collection" items. Omega explains why they're scattered around the place; Piu-Piu smuggled the stuff aboard the Ark Arena and the Agent confiscated it. A collection of what is never specified, but one can hazard a guess.
Piu-Piu: Especially those 3D ones. Once you try those, believe me, you can never go back...
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Both Escher and Zhamo. Considering that they're both descended from Olgar, who seems to have naturally white hair, perhaps white hair is relatively common.
- Xanatos Gambit: Defeating an Eldritch Abomination by having warriors fight to the death to determine who has the strongest genes, then travelling back in time and having the victors birth humanity so that humanity is strong enough when the time comes? That's... a long shot.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The Ark itself is this way. This is explained as allowing the participants to hyperfocus, ramping up their skills much faster than normal. It also means that there's actually time for a tournament before the Qualia destroys everything.
- ↑ They are card keys, though, so this makes more sense than usual.