Hand on heart, after the long wait since Chasm’s successful Kickstarter campaign from back in 2013, we went into this game hoping for something special. Something tough to play and yet accessible with plenty of secrets, surprises and perhaps even the odd wow moment all wrapped together with a sprinkling of pixel art gorgeousness.
While the game’s all fine from start to finish, that’s really just about the best way to sum it up. There’s nothing new here. We’ve seen and played this all before and what’s worse, what really, really had us excited for Chasm, the procedurally generated level structure is at the core of what makes this rather a bland and ultimately forgettable experience.
For those few people at the back who’ve missed out on Chasm’s backstory, Chasm is a 2D action platformer Metroidvania where you play as a newly knighted recruit where you explore a world of tunnels, caves and ruins buried inside a mine. Above the mine is a small town whose people have had the misfortune to have been kidnapped and it’s your job to save them.
….the procedurally generated level structure is at the core of what makes this rather a bland and ultimately forgettable experience.
As you travel further into the mine you gain additional powers and new weapons ranging from swords, whips, spears and maces – all standard stuff within this type of genre. Likewise, you’ll find numerous artefacts that enable you access to hard to reach areas while coming across boss fights that at times are reasonably challenging needing a fair understanding of attack pattern mechanics and a keen eye and steady hand.
Perhaps your thinking this sounds like we’ve seen this all before? Well, that’s partially true and given how many quality retro styled games of this type have come out in the last two or so years, Chasm doesn’t bring anything new unlike say Yoku’s Island Express to the genre. Had it arrived perhaps three or so years ago there’s no doubt our thoughts on Chasm would have been quite different. There are also far too many nods towards Konami’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night such as the backwards dash, the ability to call on a small bird to help you out and access to a stash of upgradable spells which made us feel in Chasm that we have a title that’s too similar in many ways to a game called out as an inspiration during the original Kickstarter funding drive.
One of Chasm’s key selling points over the years and one of the things we hoped would elevate it sadly one of its weakest areas. The game is procedurally generated every time you start based on a seed which you can customise and share with others should you choose to do so. On our first play though, sure, this all feels random, there are no issues here and yet on our second and third trips we found the levels after the first area to essentially look and feel pretty much the same. Since they look and feel the same, they pretty much played the same too.
Had it arrived perhaps three or so years ago there’s no doubt our thoughts on Chasm would have been quite different.
As it is, we’re done with Chasm. At present there’s little chance of us going back to it unless we see updates to change the procedural aspects of the level design. Again, perhaps we were unlucky and others have had a more enjoyable experience with the gameplay.
On the plus side, we can’t fault how it looks with its beautiful animations and detailed backgrounds and yet these cosmetic features aren’t enough to save Chasm from the cabinet marked “disappointing”. After such a long wait, Chasm doesn’t deliver upon its potential.
For this review, we purchased a retail copy of Chasm from Steam.