While Metroidvanias is a dime a dozen today, [Chrissy Chasm from Bit Kid Games took an interesting approach that almost instantly fascinated me. While each room of the game is handmade by the developers, their layout is randomly generated before the adventure starts. Could a non-roguelike in an genre known for its intricate planetary plan really pull this off?
The answer is surprising, yes. While the system has a few small hiccups, it works much better than one would expect. Chasm is also a beautiful looking game that controls pretty well and incorporates interesting RPG mechanics so it's definitely a title that fans of Metroidvania should check out, although it's quite crowded time for the genre and this title looks a little simple on the surface.
Much attention was paid to Chasm's world, although the plot is quite by-the-numbers. Players control a beginner knight from Guildean Kingdom who is sent to investigate a mine city, just to find it abandoned. This allows the protagonist to enter the mine and save the city people along the way who will open different stores that can be very useful to the player.
It's a pretty unique premise, and the developers made sure to run the world constantly with pieces of lore for players to find in each new area. Unfortunately, the main plot does not fail to really exploit its premise and turns into a typical "light vs. darkness" storyline. It is said that the game's interesting world building helps to make it easier.
As players explore the mine, they find that the mine is much larger than expected. Chasm starts quite tough as the starting equipment does not hurt much, even if things start to get easier when you find the smith. Each character adds something important and has a side task that expands its abilities so that players can save some even though I could see people choosing to save no one for a more difficult challenge.
While players are still saving people, the meat of the game will be in its platform, battle and Metroidvania exploration. The controls are surprisingly tight, and the developers really made sure to test and reward players to use all their capabilities in some rooms. In true Metroidvania fashion, players will find new capabilities in the environment that expand their mobility, and I found them all fun to use.
Some of these skills can also be used to fight, which has some weight behind it. Players can equip both standard and magic (usually more varied) weapons, and each comes with different enemies. Of course, players can find or buy better as Chasm evolves, making it very satisfying to return to early areas of the central game with its massively powerful weapon.
It is also a conception, although it does not turn out to be very useful. It must be easier to jump out of the way of a hostile attack than to cope with the delay that comes with dodging. Nevertheless, there is a very small part of battle, which generally feels very pleasing. While the game feels a bit heavier than you would expect, it's very good, it's a good Metroidvania.
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Like I mentioned before, Chasm's biggest drawing is how it's about building its Metroidvania world. While most indie developers just wanted to choose handicrafts, enemies and platforms and get the game processively to generate them, Bit Kid went the extra mile and designed each room, just let the game space be where everyone was at the start of each run. The rooms are well designed to get rid of the sporadic frustrating difficulty problems that can come with poor procedurally generated levels.
That said, it could still have lost things on the Metroidvania side of things, as the game could end up not making sense if the location went wrong. Fortunately, in the few maps I created, including my main business, this was never a problem as the layouts made full sense, except for a late game area. That area was heavy on teleportation, which quickly became confusing with the randomized layouts and frustrating as there were no storage areas, just one randomly placed room that sent me back to town.
Fortunately, it was the only area where frustration occurred to me, as the rest of Chasm's processional location was sensible and was even quite smart at some points. The fresh design of each race also gives Chasm more replayability than other Metroidvanias, as this game style may get boring on subsequent playthroughs if you remember the layout.
Chasm is also a simple but beautiful looking game. Characters and special environments are very detailed and provide a lot of charm and atmosphere. The soundtrack of the game is also very memorable, which induces retronostalgia from the games that inspired it while still standing alone. As with the controls, Chasm's presentation is very tight and sharp, leading to a game that is satisfying and fun to play, if it's a little standard.
Although it may be difficult to choose and choose which of many Metroidvanias to try out as the market is very crowded, genre fans should definitely not pass on Chasm . The game took the developers six years to make and this seems to have paid off when looking at the quality of the pictures, the controls and how well Chasms addresses process generation and the location of its room expires.