Now the random element in this is NOT like the random element in something like say, Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon or Vertical Drop Heroes. The world doesn't "reset" when you die like you see in many rogue-likes, instead, the random element is all about replayability AFTER that initial completion. Every new playthrough will be different, but, to make this worthwhile, you initially need to make a game good enough that you want to replay it more than once. That's what Chasm is attempting to do, but does it succeed?
And that's where the game really begins. You'll start with basic weapons and armour as you search along the various corridors and branching rooms, searching for anything of interest. The levels are set out in the usual Metroidvania fashion, dead ends usually have a treasure of some sort, with other routes being blocked by some sort of obstacle. Ultimately you'll only have one real path to go but, and as you advance, you'll pick up some more useful artifacts. These upgrades to your abilities are simple ones, like a climbing glove enabling a ledge grab, shin guards allowing a slide, which can be used to get through narrow gaps, or a lantern to light up dark rooms. These encourage backtracking to explore areas you initially couldn't reach and find new rooms and new routes. Doing so will reveal chests filled with newer, stronger weapons, better armour, different items and sometimes things for villager sidequests. They also allow you to find more of the imprisoned townsfolk, each of whom will, when freed, provide a service back in town. One will sell potions, another will sell food, or weapons or a variety of other goodies, all of which will allow you to, hopefully, progress a little further, advancing through the locations, hoping to discover a boss and advance to the next biome. There are some minor puzzles along the way, including a simple but interesting one involving a lock and a fresco, but most of the challenge comes from platforming and combat.
And you'll do loads of both. The rooms have hazards, enemies and platforms scattered throughout but do start to feel repetitive rather quickly, with the layout mostly consisting of a few repeating, and bland designs stitched together randomly. I quickly began to see areas I already recognised, or were really similar, especially the long straights between room clusters. As you'll be backtracking through these areas a lot anyway, the fact they feel so repetitive is really to the detriment of the game.
The dodge also has strange timing and also doesn't cancel out of attacks, making it WAY less effective. I found it almost useless in combat, swinging your weapon holds you in place for a second, making dodging almost impossible even though the enemy attacks are, for the most part, well telegraphed.
And this is where the game shines a little brighter. There are a diverse bunch of creatures in Chasm and all are reasonably well designed and fit with their environment. There were a few reskins but, on the whole, I found the designs to be interesting, with a decent range of movesets and behaviours. Learning to dodge them, and trying to work out when you can hit them safely, is fun for the most part, but never amazing. The bosses, in particular, are a good example of this, although they have well designed, large sprites, with good moves and reasonably good patterns, the inability to cancel out of the attack animation, and the crappy dodge, make the battles feel less than stellar.
Which is probably my biggest take away from Chasm. It's okay. Fun, but never amazing, and considering they based the games hook on its replayability, you'll probably not bother to do more than one playthrough. Simply put, there are SOOOO many amazing Metroidvania games out there, we are going through a golden age of them, and new titles must either do something special, or do the simple stuff EXCEPTIONALLY well if they wish to succeed, and unfortunately, Chasm is firmly in the "meh" category on both accounts.
Fine, but not one of the greats.
Chasm released on 9th November. Priced £15.99/$19.99
Developed by Bit Kid, Inc
Published by Bit Kid, Inc
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