Review : Chasm (Prerelease Alpha)

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Every once in a while, I come across a game that absolutely blows my mind. Chasm is a Metroid-vania style platformer that utilizes backtracking and upgrades in order to progress. The twist comes when you generate a seed in order to randomize the dungeon. Chasm offers almost infinite replayability due to the procedural generation provided. It is something you will want to experience repeatedly, because the controls are tight, the music is fantastic, and even without a story (currently) it leaves me thirsting to see what’s next. You will get to know the dungeon extremely well as you search for spells or equipment upgrades, or even some coins to buy said upgrades. The fact that you can’t simply look up an FAQ when you become stuck creates that old-school feeling, from the do-it-yourself era, long before the internet. Do they know they’re being nostalgic? The graphics would lead me to believe so, but it scratches that itch sooo good. Without further delay, let’s see what makes Chasm tick.

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There is no tutorial, but after some brief experimentation you will find that you can jump, duck, dash, and attack with either your right or left hand. The animations are smooth, and jumping feels controllable without being too floaty. Shortly after learning to walk, you will meet the one and only vendor. Though on your first encounter you won’t be able afford the multitude of magical wares he offers, do take note of the variety of spells, especially if you long to become a spellcaster. Once inside the dungeon, you will eventually encounter your first enemy. The enemies look as well animated as the hero, and the death animations of your enemy falling apart where you sliced them is a really cool feature. The music captures the eerie feeling of an unknown Chasm perfectly, and all of the songs are built with an awesome progression. The gameplay isn’t as fast or twitchy as a lot of my other favorites, but Chasm does capture that Castlevania feeling fully, complete with lamps that you can break for items.

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The environments seem to be quite varied, judging from the 3 levels currently accessible. Wandering from an underground mine into a lush forest cavern might not make much sense, but neither do goblins popping up from the ground to feast on your adventurous little heart. Upon reaching a new level, you will unlock abilities that will allow you to go back to the previous level and pick up anything that you missed. Paired with the random generation done by your seed, it makes Chasm a fantastically fun gameplay experience. Take note of any obstacles you can’t seem to get past, as you will likely need to backtrack once you’ve gained more power. Backtracking might not seem fun to some, but it is a necessary ingredient of any Metroid-vania, and it makes the game feel like a gigantic puzzle which you’re only permitted to crawl around inside. What a terrible analogy.

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Anyway, while there is a level-up system, there are currently no abilities or skill-points. Stat points seem to be distributed randomly, leaving every character rolled as a jack-of-all-trades. Chasm is also lacking a story, which can be attributed to it’s alpha status. The game does seem to lack identity. Baddies, while extremely well-animated, are still as generic as they come. Everyone has had a chance to lay the smack down on a rat or a goblin. The pixel-perfect timing of some jumps also left me pulling my hair, but once completed they left me utterly satisfied. Usually. Overall though, Chasm is a wonderful first release from Discord Games, Inc. I look forward to its completion, and slashing my way through the craziest dungeon I can seed.

Summary: Procedurally-generated RPG platformer with many upgrades.

Final Score: 88/100 for replayability, music, and gameplay.

CHASM has not yet released on Steam.

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