Chasm is a 2D Action Platformer RogueLite “Metroidvania” or what I call a Growth Oriented Adventure game since I hate the term Metroidvania. We have gotta come up with a better term.
Modes and Mechanisms
But what do these terms mean anyway? Well, you move across a 2D plane, leaping and running into different Rooms, in doing so advancing through a story that will see you explore a lot, fight a lot, and develop some cool new abilities meant to help you better explore and fight some more. As you battle enemies, you will gain Experience Points. Collect enough and you will grow stronger, which means your Stats will increase as well as your Maximum HP.
RogueLite, what is that about? It’s a term derived from RogueLike, which in turn comes from the originating concept in Rogue. Procedurally generated world and/level designs. It’s shaped by a detailed algorithm, and so no two playthroughs of this game will be alike.
RogueLikes have Permadeath as a defining feature. You die and the entire save file is gone. RogueLites take that and reduce or eliminate the aspect of Permadeath. So when you die in the Normal mode of Chasm, you can resume from your last save.
Separated from the Normal mode is Arcade mode. It’s a relatively simplified version of Normal mode in which you go through the game at a faster pace while a timer ticks down. Note that it does so even while in the items and Equipment menus! I love this mode for its tension and unpredictability. Definitely try it out. It’s like Classic Castlevania mixed with Symphony by some magical means.
Stats are divided into Strength, Intelligence, Constitution, and Luck.
These do about what you’d expect. Strength is how strong you are, part of determining Attack. Constitution is your natural resilience to damage which combines with your Equipment to produce your overall Defense.
Intelligence determines your damage dealt with Magic factored in with equipment stats of course. And Luck is a measure of how Favored you are by the Random Number Generator, determining the frequency of Critical Hits that deal more damage, enemy item, and money drops and so on.
Controls handle great, particularly the jumps feel graceful and intuitive. I’ve never yet landed somewhere I didn’t intend to.
Weapons work exactly like Symphony of the Night, with the protagonist actually leaving slight afterimages when he leaps, in a similar manner to Alucard.
Spells/Subweapons feel about like what I expected, though the Axe and Boomerang Spells had a much shorter range than I thought they would.
Use of a Spell diminishes MP, restored by smashing objects and finding MP inside or by using expendable items like Tonics.
It bears mention that Spells/Subweapons can be upgraded after finding an item for an NPC, using Gems.
The map is good. Honestly, I often forgot that other playthroughs will have a different map than I did. It feels like a lot of attention was paid to perfecting the algorithms of level design. It’s definitely not feeling Random or Disconnected. Helping greatly in that regard is a simple shortcut based fast travel mechanic within each unique environment. You’re never especially far from safety, it will only feel that way.
That being said, I’ve had a lot of close calls and a lot of straight-up dying. The enemy designs in this are rather challenging.
Something I approve of is how Stat boosting items are hidden in many spots a player is not likely to search. And so being thorough yields a bonus while steadfastly moving onward is not penalized.
I’m also glad some Equipment has hidden effects to discover, for instance, the Fox Mask lets you run faster.
Speaking of, there seems to be a tier system to equipment. Any time you find a piece of equipment. It has a chance if being Special. Glowing Blue if it is having a small boost to stats or glowing Gold if it has a big boost to one or more stats. So far, I have only found Gold glowing equipment while using a Luck Scroll.
On the other hand, there are certain objects I don’t know that I will ever find.
And given the nature of the game, that might really be the case. For instance, I have blown hours TODAY on finding 3 stupid “Secret Stashes” for a Miner NPC. I‘m so over-leveled for the first Area “The Mines” that enemies do 1HP of damage. Out of 204 HP. More than two hours have been spent on this stupid side quest, and I’ve dug up two stashes, and I’d Google the location of the third if I could but I can’t. I don’t have the options one normally might employ when stuck, such as finding an FAQ or completed Map online. Outside of a handful of very specific and rare scenarios, Google will not save you from bewilderment.
(I did finally find the third Stash. I was apparently overthinking things.)
Aesthetics and Sound
Chasm is effective at giving a very retro feel, while in reality keeping pace with modern design sensibilities. Similarly to many other Retro themed Indie games really. The artwork would be very at home in the late Super Nintendo library or on PS1. The art style is very much a major source of the game‘s appeal to me personally. Also appreciated is the Bestiary, a big collection of all the critters you encounter and kill. Provided you have killed enough to unlock their entry that is. Also listed are what item drops you have discovered that they drop.
The audio design of Chasm, however, almost seems perfect. Areas are heralded by atmospheric melodies that really capture the tone and feel of locations while also being very pleasing to the ear. Sound effects are really well done too, I’ve yet to find an aspect of the visuals or audio aspects I would imagine could be done better really. As a bonus, the music has an alternate Chiptune mode that ks every bit as good as the original OST. Which is by the way available for purchase online on sites like Bandcamp.
Final Thoughts & Verdict
Before you get this game, ask yourself if you are prepared to be stuck from time to time. That’s really my only complaint, and I only complain because I‘m a masochistic nut that can’t leave this nonessential sidequest unfinished.
This being my only significant complaint, it says a lot that I have only got a little stuck and then only briefly so far into my game. That aside, I imagine the normal difficulty to be plenty of accessible considering I‘ve not had much of a hard time on Hard. Just stock up on healing items before going into new areas and you’ll defeat anything in your way with some patience.
Chasm feels like an infinite wellspring of adventure. The gameplay is as refined as I‘ve ever seen it, and I‘ll be finishing and restarting this RogueLite RPG for years to come.
Thank you for reading feel free to comment below. Follow me on Twitter and we can talk about gaming. You can also read about #Project181 here and donate to help raise money for Gamers Outreach. Join us in helping kids in hospitals getting to game.
Robert Kelly Ball
[Editors Note: RKB is a content contributor for 181GAMING. If you would like to have your content published on 181GAMING, click here. We are always looking for content creators and community moderators.]