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Chasm Review

Chasm

Another day, another Indie Metroidvania? Doesn’t bother me- I love the genre! Born from Kickstarter, Chasm is a retro-style action platformer with decent RPG elements. While I knew what to expect with this game, what I didn’t know was simply how addicted I became to it!

Chasm

The story begins with your character, being a new recruit for the Guildean Kingdom, who is ordered to undertake a mission involving the disappearance of the townsfolk in a nearby mining town. Once you arrive, you’ll meet the only remaining survivor, who gives you access to the mines (which have been overrun with monsters), to investigate the strange occurrences. Once you start making your way down, you’ll find treasure, fight lots of monsters, and uncover the truth of what’s going on.

Chasm is a hybrid of sorts, combining different ideas and elements from games like Metroid, Rogue Legacy, SteamWorld Dig and Salt & Sanctuary. While this is great (because I love all those games), Chasm kind of lacks its own ideas and identity. It takes a lot of what was good about those other games and squeezes them into Chasm’s 10 hour adventure.

Chasm

One of the main selling points is the procedurally-assembled maps. While each room is hand-crafted, the ordering of these rooms are randomised, ensuring no two playthroughs are the same. My main gripe with this is that it’s just unnecessary for this type of game.

It makes sense for a game like Rogue Legacy to have this feature because you’re constantly dying and starting over, making each playthrough a fresh experience. But with Chasm, you generally only need the one big playthrough and that’s really enough. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I would have preferred the developer’s efforts go more into improving the level design of each room instead.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the level design or platforming, but don’t go expecting anything of Guacamelee 2 or Celeste quality here. But where this game really shines is in its combat and RPG elements!

Chasm

Once I got into the combat, collecting gear, leveling up, etc, I played this game pretty much non-stop until I finished it. I spent long hours playing this and not once did I get bored or want to stop.

I played through Chasm on Normal difficulty, and while it wasn’t too hard, I know that if you’re not switched on and playing it properly, you will take chunks of damage from enemies. What I really enjoyed was working out and familiarising myself with each enemy, as each one had their own attack patterns, and I needed to work out what routine (both defensively and offensively) I had to carry out in order to defeat them without taking damage.

You fight a lot of enemies and each encounter almost felt like a puzzle. Once I had the routine for an enemy down pat, it was immensely satisfying taking them out. To add to all that, there are different weapon types to master, and this needs to play into your strategy. Some weapons are quick, so you add in that extra hit when needed to, and some were slow so you had be carefully when you swung.

Chasm

Rarely in these games do I experiment and try them all out, but in Chasm I actually did! Ultimately I went with the quicker swords, but there’s really no perfect weapon as they all have their pros and cons. Another thing that added to the satisfaction to combat were the sound effects and animations once you’ve defeated an enemy. There’s a certain ‘Thwack’ sound that always brought a smile to my face as I watched the enemy explode or go up in flames after death!

The RPG elements are another satisfying part of Chasm, as you’ll gain XP and level up, raising your character’s stats. There’s also a nice range of weapons, armour, accessories, etc. to equip to raise your stats as well. This is something I’ve always wanted in a Metroidvania game but hardly ever found in this genre. In my mind, stats just make everything better!

Chasm

While so far I’ve talked about the good points, there are unfortunately some bad points. In Metroidvania games, backtracking is a major part of the experience. Once you’ve obtained a new ability that allows access to areas you previously couldn’t access, it was always a thrill to go back and see what’s beyond those areas.

Usually the game gives you some kind of hint or indicator as to where to go next once you’ve gained a new skill or completed a certain area. In Chasm, you get nothing! I’m then left confused as to what I’m supposed to do next. It’s this lack of direction that often hurts the game.

Chasm

My only solution to this problem was to then re-explore every single area again and see where I can use this new ability in the hopes I’m going the right way. But that means I have to fight every enemy along the way and complete the same platforming areas again and again just to see where I can progress.

But I had re-explore every area about 4-5 times over and while there is shortcut system, it can still be time-consuming and repetitive.

Chasm

Luckily though, I enjoyed the combat and platforming enough to not get put off by the game’s lack of direction. Maybe if it wasn’t a procedurally-generated map, then the developers could have implemented something to guide us gamers through properly?

I’ll admit though, once I completed everything in my playthrough, and defeated the final boss, I was sad that it was all over. I’ll most likely come back and play again on a harder difficulty, because would really push me to take every enemy seriously, and surely increase the fun.

Despite the game’s flaws, the fun I had completely over-shadowed them, and it’s one adventure I’ll look back on in a positive light.

Score: 8.9

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