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Review - CHASM - A convincing pseudo-RPG Metroidvania with randomized maps!

Chasm - Jungle boss

Chasm - Logo

There's an old Irish saying: "There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle", and it fits well Chasm, an old-school Metroidvania which has been in development during around 6 years, since 2012. 

  "Bit Kid, Inc.", the developer, doesn't promise us innovative gameplay mechanics, but a very well-made addictive platformer/adventure with a nice twist: randomized maps!


Store Platform OVERALL RATING: 85%
Buy it on STEAM PC
 + THE POSITIVE
+ Lovely 16-bit pixel art
+ Classic Metroidvania experience
+ Lots of weapons, items, and RPG-like stats
+ Roguelite element: Randomized maps!
+ Great music and SFX
+ Many secrets!
 - THE NEGATIVE
- Frustrating controls! Argh!!
- Maybe a little bit TOO much backtracking?
- Searching for crafting material is WAY too grindy
- Tiny detail: The blur effect on your character wasn't necessary
Buy it on Playstation.com PS4
Buy it on Playstation.com PSVITA

A METROIDROGUEVANIA?๐Ÿ˜
Chasm - icon by andonov marko
The genre:
Chasm is officially a procedurally-generated Adventure Platformer, which gamers usually prefer to commonly call "Metroidvania".

The story:
You play as a little B.P.(Before Pubes) teenager, wanting to prove that you're worth something as a knight rookie for the Guildean Kingdom
So, you accept your first mission: 
- Find out what happened in the distant snowy town of Karthas, in which almost all inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared in the mines! By the way, forget about Uber, you have to go there on foot.


Chasm - Khartas save statue
Khartas town is a ghost town when you start the game.(except an old grumpy guy) You can save your game in front of this statue. You'll meet many similar statues during your trip in the mines, so make sure to save every time you can!

  Once you reach Karthas, you realize that most townspeople have been kidnapped by creepy creatures emerging from the depths. Bees as big as helicopters, naked Wendigos, giant circular saws that can cut you in two instantly...

  You don't give a damn and you just go. You sure want to impress your queen!
Time to explore deadly catacombs, lethal jungles, death-dealing castles, and all kinds of various life-threatening situations, to save some damn peasants who thought that working in an old mine located over an ancient evil civilization would be perfectly safe. The same kind of people who spend a weekend in the Evil Dead cabin and think that everything is going to be alright.


Chasm - releasing granny
Great. The first townsfolk I deliver is an old drooling granny. No kisses, please! Thankfully, she sells powerful magical items! Every person you release will be automatically teleported to the town, and don't forget to talk to them once you meet up again, as they'll give you a side quest!


Note!
As of version 1.02, the game is very stable. We completed it and didn't encounter any bugs.

GAMEPLAY - GREAT CLASSIC, BUT A BIT FRUSTRATING ๐Ÿคจ

  Chasm follows all of the standard Metroidvania rules: 
- Explore freely 6 large environments! (687 rooms + 132 secret rooms!!)
- Fight lots of enemies! (97 creatures in the bestiary!)
- Unlock power-ups!
- Get better weapons! (187 pieces of gear + crafting!)
- Backtrack a lot to access previously inaccessible areas!
- If you die, you return to your last save point and only lose your progress since your last save!


Chasm - the equipment menu
Every good review needs a screenshot of the menu! Love the RPG-like stats, and how easy and fast it is to see if the gear you select is more or less powerful than the one you're using.

We won't spoil any more details about the story, but let's just say that it's boring and forgettable. A bit like in Rogue Legacy, we found diary pages during our adventure, but eventually, we completely stopped reading them.

Lots of people are complaining about how "classic" Chasm feels.
Clearly, if you want something original, look elsewhere.
Except the randomized maps, Chasm doesn't bring anything new to the Metroidvania genre. (although it has been done already, like in Dead Cells.)

TIPS ABOUT COMBAT!
- If you attack as you're coming down from a jump and you're hitting attack fast enough you can immediately attack again upon landing.
- You can press attack and back-dash at the same time to do a retreating swing.

Chasm - bats are damn annoying
Oh joy. My favorite enemy from The Mummy Demastered, the f****** annoying bat, is back!

  Still, there's tons of variety, and many things to do in this world! At first, we were a bit worried when we learned that the "story" was taking place only in the mines of ONE little town, and we thought it would be underwhelming. 

  Fact is, the game is made of 6 huge large multi-rooms areas, metroidvania-style, and as if this wasn't enough, they're all randomized, so every new run will feel different! To say the truth though, like in any game which has tried this before, eventually it'll feel more or less the same. There's a limit to how different a room can be. So, to sum it up, after you complete the game two times, it's unlikely you'll feel like going back to it a third time.


Chasm - the shovel allows you to dig and uncover secret areas!
Once you get the shovel, you'll be able to dig through these areas and access some treasures!

  Like in any RPG, you'll get XP when you kill an enemy, and your stats will be automatically upgraded. You'll also get dozens of different weapons and armor pieces, allowing you to customize your character any way you want. 

  You can use slow and powerful weapons like a huge axe, or a very short but fast dagger! You can use gear pieces which boost your intelligence and magical powers, or focus on the contrary on your physical defense, etc.

TIP ABOUT BACKTRACKING!
  You can use "hub rooms" which connect directly to different points in each area allowing you to get easily around the maps! And more importantly, it gives you easy access to the town, which you'll use to improve your gear, get new side-quests, etc!

Chasm - the infamous 3 numbers code puzzle, in the catacombs!
One of the best examples of randomness in Chasm: this code will be different in every new run! *SPOILER* How to solve this puzzle: in this map(the Catacombs) there are 3 rooms with wall paintings. Each of these paintings has a certain number of stars/swords/chalices displayed. Just insert the numbers shown in the paintings in the appropriate places. No, I won't show you which rooms, you'll have to find them yourself! he he

  The game has 3 difficulty levels, so that even newbies can have fun in the "easy" mode, which is totally accessible to anybody, really.

  On the other hand, it doesn't mean that the game will be a breeze...
It seems that the developer got inspired by WayForward's Shantae for one thing: placing enemies exactly where you expect them the least, OR where you simply cannot avoid being hit! (narrow areas, no jump sections, holes or hills...)

Combine that with the kinda sub-par controls and you can imagine how frustrating it might become... Speaking of controls...

Chasm - Tip: when you see a blue mushroom, don't eat it.
There's not mushroom to improve the game, unfortunately. Or my puns.

CONTROLS, WHY ARE YOU TERRIBLE?
  Ok, maybe it's an exaggeration, but more than once, we actually threw our gamepads out the window because of a missed jump, and much more often, because we couldn't avoid being hit by an enemy. (Note to the developer: we're sending you the bill for our countless wasted gamepads.๐Ÿ˜)

Note!
  We played the game with a Logitech F710. Could it be the cause of these bad controls? We doubt it, as it's compatible with 100% of the games we test, and we never had similar problems.

Chasm - Wendigo boss is scary but very easy.
NEVER. Disturb a pooping Wendigo.Unless you're ready to kick the poop out of him. Okay this is getting gross.

Seriously though, what's with this HORRIBLE input lag when you try to "back dodge"?? (or back-dash or whatever it's called.)

  Oh my god this move is SO horribly frustrating!! Ok, you can try to get used to the lag and push the button earlier, but it still feels really bad. Especially as there's no consistency and other moves don't suffer from this lag.
Overall, controls are just not tight and responsive enough to be enjoyed. At least, collision detection is good, though.

Chasm - The back-dodge move is completely broken
When you attack, your character is COMPLETELY frozen for a second, and doesn't even respond if you want to back dodge. So yes, this enemy chopped my daikon off.

  Unfortunately for the developer, Chasm suffers a bit from the comparison with the top Metroidvania games released in the past few years, mainly Iconoclasts, or even Dead Cells(Which we will review soon!). 

  Iconoclasts has the best perfectly calibrated controls ever seen in this genre, and Dead Cells might have the most satisfying fighting system we had the chance to experience in our lifetime. Chasm isn't exactly in the same league.๐Ÿ˜ฅ

But Bad controls are the ONLY reason this game isn't a megahit.
Everything else is great, really.

Chasm - enemies in the jungle hit hard, so boost your defense stats!
At that point, I just stopped even trying to "back dodge", as it was simply too frustrating. I just raised my armor stat as much as possible and became a tank. On a side note, you can see the little "bird" on my right, summoned by the "bird hat" I'm wearing... Which makes me realize that whatever armor you're wearing, it's actually not shown in-game. Your character always looks the same.

TIP!
  The "Bird Hat" summons permanently a bird companion who will attack any nearby enemies. Your bird can even level up IF he gets the last hit on enemies. On the other hand, since your bird gets some XP, your main character gets less. (We've heard people saying that your character actually gives ALL of his XP to the bird, but this isn't true. Our character still leveled up although we had the bird...)

GRAPHICS - LIKE A MEGADRIVE PLATFORMER ๐Ÿ˜

  Overall, the pixel art is done marvelously well. The color palette has been obviously limited in a very clever way, making Chasm look a lot like 90s Megadrive platformers.(I checked Super Nes platformers, but I noticed that the color palette used in Chasm is more similar to Megadrive games, actually!)

Chasm - color palette is limited and yet very pleasant to the eyes
The limited color palette helps making the game more consistent and atmospheric, despite being 2D.

  Your character has a weird blur effect when he moves around, reminding me a bit of the "trail" effect in GTA 3... (Yes, weird comparison, and yet, that was the first thing that came to my mind when I played it.๐Ÿ˜) 
After a while, you just get used to it and it's not annoying, but it would be nice to be able to disable it, in a future update!

  Animations are top-notch, and you'll appreciate the tiny details, like your character's hair swinging when he goes down in an elevator.

Note!
  Chasm is one of the few games which get its CRT filter right, so, we decided to take ALL of our screenshots with this filter enabled, and we think this is the best way to play the game.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘ (interesting fact: native resolution is 384x216)

Chasm - graphics almost look romantic
Everything looks very soft and a bit melancholic in chasm, and leave enough to the imagination to dream about a greater world waiting to be explored!

  Just one negative note: At times, the level design might seem a bit uninspired, and we're not necessarily talking about the platforming itself which is fine, but the art direction which, albeit looking lovely, never offers any memorable locations.
Similarly to the gameplay, Chasm doesn't try anything risky in the graphics department.

Chasm - we always knew that evil aliens were friends with freemasons
The so-called "eye of providence", or "all-seeing eye", used by countless cultures throughout the ages, and which has been made "popular" again by freemasons in past few centuries.

  We completely forgot to mention the UI and menu which are just PERFECT.
No need for a manual, everything is so well-thought and intuitive that you understand everything right away: How to select your gear, add markers to the map, use items, etc. 
The map too is great, and here's the proof: we never got lost!

MUSIC - HYPNOTIC AND APPROPRIATE ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘

  The music has a great mellow hypnotic vibe, and while eventually sounding a bit repetitive, it's never annoying and - a thing I rarely do in games nowadays - I didn't cut it off.
It's not on Youtube, but you can listen to the whole OST on bandcamp here => CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE OST
Still, you can listen to some of the tracks in this "let's play" video. =>


  For some reason, NOBODY ever mentions SFX in games, nowadays. Come on, let's give some respect to the people working in this field! Especially as SFX are particularly well done in Chasm. Why? Because, like the graphics, they sound like they belong in a 16-bit game, WHICH IS GOOD.

  Some SFX actually almost sound like they were made with FM synth, like in the good old times of the Megadrive. So, nothing very realistic, but it goes very harmoniously well with the pixel art. 

Chasm - promo picture


RATING BOX
Chasm - poster

VERSION TESTED: v1.02

Publisher:

Developer:

Release Date:
31 July, 2018

Genre: Metroidvania

Single-player

Difficulty: Easy 

GRAPHICS: 92%
  As lovely as the best 2D platformers of the 90s, Chasm graphics look great and consistent during the whole game. Add to this a convincing CRT filter and impeccable animations and you've got quite a looker!
MUSIC: 86%
Charming and slightly hypnotic, sometimes ambient and eerie, it accompanies very well your exploration! A bit repetitive at times.
SOUNDS: 84%
ALL sounds are good and we appreciate how many of them mimic 90s games SFX.
GAMEPLAY: 82%
  Chasm has decent gameplay time(15-20 hours), offers enemy variety, lots of weapons (as if crafting wasn't enough), various empowering items, side quests, and maybe one of the best selling points of this game: randomized maps!
If only it had responsive controls!! (we lowered the note by 10% just because of this!)
OVERALL RATING: 85%
  Although offering a very classic and "safe" experience, Chasm is very solid and is a good bang for the buck! Not many Metroidvania games offer that much in such a tight package! 

If controls weren't so unresponsive, it would have gotten a Megahit award!

A final note for the developer: No idea what you intend to do now, but the core game is GREAT, so please keep updating it, or work on a sequel, please! Thank you!
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