Recently, I was able to play the first fifteen minutes of Chasm, a procedurally-generated Metroidvania from Bit Kid Games that has had my eye since I first heard about it. This difference with this demo was that the game is now playable from front to back, with only a few details to clean up.
As this demo took place at the very beginning of the game, there was obviously a ton of new context for what I was doing. We had already known the basic premise of Chasm; our main character, Daltyn, is a young warrior new to his role as a knight and is sent into the depths of a small town’s mine where he encounters dangerous creatures, huge bosses and even a couple puzzles as he makes his attempt to save the people of the town, but the first five minutes give you some backstory on the world of Chasm and an idea of who the key players are. There’s also a religion in Chasm, which explains why the save points are statues that you bow down to.
So after exploring the castle for a while, Daltyn makes his journey to the mining town. The Bit Kid team uses this short time-lapse to show off some of the beautiful environments they are able to create using the 8-bit art style, as our character makes his way through valleys, snowstorms, through the dark night, and eventually into the town. When you arrive, the town is barren save for one elderly man who is very concerned for his neighbors and implores you to help them. And then you’re off. Making your way through the treacherous underground is both incredibly satisfying, but also extremely nerve racking. Chasm gives you control over Daltyn’s every move, and while this is definitely a plus, it is also what makes Chasm pretty difficult. There’s no hand-holding, and so every death is on you.
The move system is also simple yet nuanced. You can jump, climb, wall jump, swing your sword, and use whatever ability you’ve equipped. The first ability you’re given is the ability to use throwing knives, which are especially handy when going up against tricky enemies that are on the platform you want to jump to. Throughout the game, you’ll be able to find more abilities, and they will allow you to backtrack and access areas that were previously unavailable to you (hence the metroid-vania). While I didn’t get to experience much of the backtracking, the overall gameplay was a joy. Slashing different types of enemies, jumping over projectiles, and throwing knives to keep the monsters at bay all felt intuitive and fun. Traversal is great too, with the verticality of the environment forcing you to maneuver up walls and onto platforms to get to the next area. It’s a blast, and from a gameplay perspective, it’s obviously reminiscent of Symphony of the Night.
What will make Chasm different, though, is that it’s procedurally generated. While the rooms themselves are hand drawn and wonderfully designed, it’s the order in which they appear and how they play out that changes with each playthrough. The game touts six large environments, with different aesthetics, hazards and enemies, but what’s going to be interesting is how these six environments change on the second and third playthrough. This will not only make Chasm more interesting, but give it a replayability factor that not a lot of 2D platformers have.
Chasm will come to PlayStation 4 and PC sometime in the near future.