PAX: Chasm Hits that Perfect, Nostalgic Feel

The idea that Chasm is a good game is one that has been reiterated since it was first shown, but here we are again with another preview.

Chasm was Kickstarted about three years ago and reached almost $200,000. It’s a Metroid-vania style game with both hack and slash and dungeon crawler elements. It is essentially a love letter to the Castlevania series, with a few additions of their own that make the game feel fresh. This was the first time I got to play Chasm and all of the rumors are true; it’s awesome. It feels, sounds and looks perfect, and keeps all that in tact even with the twist of being procedurally generated.

I got to speak with James Petruzzi, director Chasm, at PAX,who talked a bit about its procedural nature. The craziest part is that the whole thing is hand drawn in an 16-bit style, but still procedural. This is done by creating rooms non-procedurally and then creating an algorithm that pieces the pre-made rooms together. So the powerups you get and the bosses you fight will stay the same on each play through, but the path, the challenges and items you’ll get will be different each time.  He said that this gives it a rougue-like element that bolsters replayability.

The biggest goal for them, according to Dodd, was giving the player the sense of what he called the “classic challenge.” It isn’t overwhelmingly hard, but you do have to think about where you are going and what the best plan is going foreword. Especially in a procedurally generated world where you do not know what is on the other side of the door, you want to keep your eyes open. He also said that the game will guide you at the beginning, like any game, but that he wants this to go unnoticed by the player. This will be of course for the newbies to the genre, so veterans will be able to breeze through this portion quickly.

The minute to minute gameplay felt great. Daltyn, your character, has a sword, throwing knives and spells that he can cast that either hurt enemies or help him. I only got to use the bare minimum load out, but it all felt really easy to get my head around. As you progress, you’ll acquire new spells, weapons, and even armor that power you up. In my demo, I got a long sword that did a ton more damage than the default short sword, so managing your items and making Daltyn as strong as he can be will be an important aspect of the game.

The story of Chasm is quite interesting, too. It is all about your character Daltyn, who is a new recruit in the military, and who has been stationed at this middle-of-nowhere mining town called Karthas. The problem is that the Karthian population has mysteriously disappeared, and so Daltyn ventures into the mines to figure out what is going on, and hopefully find and save the Karthians. It will be interesting to see how weird the storyline gets. There are obviously monsters and magic in this world, but to what extent, we’ve yet to find out. And of course, the story itself is a mystery, so I’m sure we will find out more as the game progresses.

Overall I was incredibly impressed with Chasm. As a fan of the side-scrolling action platformer genre and of 16 bit games, Chasm hits all the sweet spots. The gameplay is up to snuff, the art and story are exactly what they need to be, and they even threw in the procedural aspect that shakes things up so that it will last way beyond one play through.

Chasm will come to Steam and PlayStation 4 sometime in 2017, with plans to also bring it to Xbox One eventually.