Chaos Overlords is set in a dystopian cyberpunk future. By 2046, private industries started to purchase bankrupt national governments. By 2050, all governments had merged under one corporation, the World United Solidarity (WUS). WUS became a corrupt monopoly, and attempted to control the population by instituting censorship and banning ownership of weapons, drugs and pornography. Former crime lords and corporate heads arose to exploit the people by creating "chaos": selling drugs, guns, and pornography, running the numbers, and engaging in extortion and blackmail. These criminals, known as Chaos Overlords, bribed WUS to avoid crackdowns. As gangs joined them and they grew in power, cities became battlegrounds for their struggles to destroy each other in pursuit of money and power.
The player takes the role of a Chaos Overlord attempting to control a city. Gameplay involves hiring mercenary gangs and deploying them on an 8-by-8 grid of city sectors to generate income, occupy sectors and take over the city. The player can choose from 10 different victory conditions. The four timed scenarios involve attaining the most cash, sectors, support, or all three. The six objective scenarios have no time limit and require the player to fulfill a specific goal, ranging from killing all other Chaos Overlords to controlling specific sectors of importance.
Chaos Overlords attracted mixed reviews from the gaming press. GameSpot praised its addictive qualities, while Allgame noted its ability to generate strategic depth from a simple game concept. Computer Gaming World criticized the game's rough presentation and monotonous graphics, but commented that dedicated gamers with the patience to look past first impressions would be rewarded with a "novel, truly strategic wargame". In a retrospective for IGN, gaming journalist Tom Chick praised the clarity of the game's design, claiming its "elegant and exciting" gameplay was hampered mainly by a mouse-intensive interface.
Chaos Overlords developer John K. Morris began work on a sequel in 2006. As of September, 2008[update], development was indefinitely on hold. In December, 2009, Morris announced active development on the sequel with three members of the original development team (names not specified), but provided no indication of a potential release date. Morris updated the Evolution Interactive blog May 5, 2010, to indicate Chaos Overlords 2 was still under development but had been put on hold for another project. The development team has also joined Facebook.
- Chow and Rettig 1996, pp. 6-7.
- Chaos Overlords. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-02-28
- Blevins, Tal (1996-08-15). Chaos Overlords review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2007-02-28
- Honeywell, Steve. Chaos Overlords review. Allgame. Retrieved on 2007-02-28
- "Nuns with guns?". Computer Gaming World (Golden Empire Publications, Inc): 188. 1 August 1996.
- Chick, Tom (2000-12-01). "PC Retroview: Chaos Overlords". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/088/088546p1.html. Retrieved 2007-03-02.
- John K Morris (2006-09-22). Chaos Overlords. Retrieved on 2007-02-28
- John K Morris (2008-09-11). What am I up to?. Retrieved on 2009-01-28
- John K Morris (2009-12-11). Chaos Overlords 2 Status Update. Retrieved on 2010-01-08
- John K Morris (2010-05-05). Chaos Overlords 2 Status Update. Retrieved on 2010-05-26
- Chow, William and Rettig, Dean (1996). Chaos Overlords Manual. Hollywood, CA: New World Computing, Inc..