The Chaos Engine – An old jewel

1993 was a significant year for me. For one, I finished school and started an ill-fated and luckily short-lived sojourn into banking. More importantly, I discovered this game, which quickly became my favourite.

The Chaos Engine.

The Chaos Engine - Cover

A game that enthralled me from the first time I saw it. I played it for hours on end at a friend’s place, my preferred character was Preacher. Back in 1993 I had never heard of Moore’s Law, and I did not really think much about the development of computer technology although I had witnessed the development in graphics from Pong to Legend of Zelda. Well,I distinctly remember stating something along the lines of “the graphics of this game will be hard to beat”.

The computer I was playing on was an Amiga 500 and the graphics looked like this:

The Chaos Engine Screenshot

A statement born out of ignorance…

What makes this game significant is the plot: Steampunk!

The backstory of The Chaos Engine draws some inspiration from William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s novel, The Difference Engine, i.e. an alternate Victorian Age with a sentient thinking machine.
A time traveller on a mission from the distant future becomes stranded in England of the late 1800s, and his technology comes into the hands of the Royal Society led by Baron Fortesque (roughly based on Charles Babbage), a gifted inventor. Unfortunately, one of his inventions is the Chaos Engine, which attains sentience and proceeds to take over and alter the countryside.

The player (or players) are tasked with infiltrating the Chaos Engine’s stronghold and destroy the Engine.

It is really interesting to see, how far back my connection and fascination with Steampunk reaches. It all started with A Nomad of the Time Streams in 1991 or 1992 for me and now there appears to be an ever tighter chain of things connecting a non-defined Steampunkesque past to a full-fledged Steampunk present.

I digress. If you get the chance to play this wonderful retro game, do i. I think it would be just as much fun to play for me now, as it was back then in 1993.