Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds may be the two most influential games for Chaos Chronicles. It might be hard to tell at first since Chaos Chronicles looks more like another Baldur’s Gate or Dragon Age with its top down perspective.
One of the first differences is that you do not only create a single character but a whole party. You have to take some time doing this and chances are that after playing the game for a couple of hours you might want to go back and roll new characters. Maybe because you want to try something different since there are many options. Maybe because you figured out a few mechanics that work really well and you want to exploit them to the max.
With creating your own party comes another thing: If you remember the story from more recent party RPGs like Dragon Age 2 it revolves around the fate of very specific characters. Pool of Radiance was very different in that regard. It was about exploring the world and changing its fate much more than about cutscenes or dialogues. It left you room for your own imagination.
And then there was the turn based combat. Your party of six against a dozen Kobolds. Moving your fighters (nowadays you would call them ‘tanks’) up front to protect your weaker magic users (that nowadays would simply be seen as damage dealers but back then did so much more than just that with a ton of different spells that were useful outside of combat). And then keeping both thumps pressed on every enemy attack that the Kobold would miss so you may be able to save your healing for another fight. And then casting a spell and watching its effect resolve. You target the right Orc in the center and then see how it puts the others around him to sleep – or burns them down depending on the type of spell.
The thing was: With the AD&D system in place one or two hits could be deadly. So there was always hope with every digital die roll that the tides of battle might turn around. If you got lucky to kill one or two opponents this turn you might still have a chance, right?
Outside of combat the game still had a lot to offer. Actually there was a sense of wonder around every corner. Back then every encounter seemed to have an effect that mattered. And with no internet around there to prove the ravings of another player on the schoolyard right or wrong there was no way to be a 100% sure is something was just some kind of nonsense made up by the flowering imagination of another kid at school (who would of course cite sources as magazines or older brothers to undermine his claims) or actually something to consider. So you killed a gypsy that offered you to tell you your fortune and didn’t like what she told you. And then the next day someone tells you that this decision makes the combat encounters in that area much harder. Maybe that’s why you were attacked by all those goblins after leaving her shop?
But the most rewarding thing may have been to import the adventurers from Pool of Radiance (those that made it through the adventure that is…) into Curse of the Azure Bonds. Carrying over your party was pretty much writing your own epic adventure story as your heroes continued to grow stronger and stronger.