It feels like every other major indie release, current and upcoming, has almost always been a Metroidvania style adventure and it’s honestly a little hard to get tired of it. An open-ended and carefully interconnected 2D world with collectibles, bosses and plenty to discover — all complemented by memorable music and visuals — is hard to fault in when done right. Some may be better than others, but a well thought out Metroidvania rarely disappoints. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from Koji Igarashi has raised over five million dollars in its hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, proving that gamers simply can’t get enough of these deep and engrossing 2D adventures. That being said, the genre has reached a saturation point and nearly every pretender tries to emulate Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Perhaps Bloodstained will raise the bar and redefine the genre entirely, but we have plenty of Metroidvania style adventures to tide us over until that happens, with one of them being Chasm.
While most games try to differentiate a little bit from the Castlevania mould, Chasm is mechanically, and at times structurally, pretty much Symphony of the Night with a different skin. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Chasm is a lot of fun for that reason despite the core mechanics and abilities constantly reminding you of Symphony of the Night, because after all that’s not a bad game to emulate. That being said, Chasm offers an adventure that’s meant to be replayed several times, and the replayability is complemented by the procedurally generated nature of the in-game world and its many areas.
Chasm immediately thrusts you into the mysterious world with little to no explanation other than you being a soldier who has to get rid of monsters terrorizing the locals. You jump right into a mine and just keep going, but soon enough you uncover artefacts and documents that tell you a little more about the game world. The story isn’t always intriguing or even original, but the environments lend themselves nicely to develop the game world, especially when you come across ancient murals. Although it’s not the most story-driven affair, the game world here is still interesting enough to hold your attention.
Chasm has a lot in common with Symphony of the Night and Castlevania in general, from the core combat mechanics, the use of magic points for special weapons, to the RPG style levelling and equipment system, Chasm ticks all the right boxes when it comes to core gameplay systems. The level design doesn’t always present the most interesting scenarios, in fact there is a little repetition in the style of platforming situations you get involved in, but things do shake up nicely with trap puzzles and some really cool boss battles.
The game does a nice job of interconnecting the many areas, and punctuates level progression with portals that can zip you back to older areas, so you never feel like you’ve wandered off too much. Another interesting aspect is rescuing townsfolk hidden away in the dungeons, allow you to open up new shops and features such as weapon crafting. Chasm is very much by the books in the gameplay and design department, but it does a darn fine job. Visually, Chasm is a pretty impressive looking sprite action game, with smooth animations and generic but still charming enemy designs. What really shines is the soundtrack, which presents a dark, brooding, and atmospheric score.
While Chasm may not dare to depart too much from Metroidvania customs, it still implements tried and tested ideas nicely enough for an enjoyable adventure filled with items and weapons to collect, plus some interesting classic bosses to take on. It may not be the most unique offering, but Chasm should be a worthwhile trip for anyone looking for another Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.