When I thought about plans for the weekend, I had in mind to fix some Sequelize CLI issues and to extend one of my personal projects I'm currently working on. This has been until I opened this one lovely email with the subject "Project Update #37: Chasm by Discord Games LLC". The first sentence read "Anyone who backed at $25+ can play the Alpha build right now!", which made me instantly stop everything I was doing and forced me to open the Humble Key Resender. After receiving my Steam key and downloading the game, I was ready to kill my weekend's spare time and to dive deeply into the world of the retro-platformer Chasm :)
When a small mining community falls silent, a young soldier named Daltyn is sent to investigate. Upon arriving in the remote mountain town of Karthas, he discovers that paranormal forces have sealed the town off from the outside world. Now trapped, he's left with no option but to explore the mines below the town and uncover the source of the disturbances. Six huge procedurally-generated areas await, each lovingly crafted in a retro pixel art style.
At the current state of development, I was actually suprised to read this text on the official homepage, because one does not really find out, that your character has a name or that he has been landed in that city for a certain reason. One is basically just thrown into a snowy city with some not overly talkative people around and with an entrance to a mine. Though this sounds awkward, I was just overwhelmed by charming retro graphics and instantly started my journey through the chasm.
The mechanics of the game are solid and easily explained: Daltyn slays his way through the dungeons, collects herbs or essences, opens treasure boxes, spends essences to gain level ups, finds documents of former advanturers and heals himself on a fireplace from time to time. Oh and ... he is also pretty good at dying. Honestly. I didn't die more often in a game than in Chasm and I completed Zombie U, in which dying is basically one of the core concepts!
Anyway, when you manage to stay alive for long enough, you will find fireplaces every once in a while. Those do not only restore your health points but also allow you to exchange collected essences for attribute upgrades (VIT, STR, INT, LCK). Besides that you can create health or mana potions if you collected enough herbs and empty bottles.
While I expected something like Zelda but in a sidescrolling feshion, I had to find out that Chasm is actually more a Castlevania, Metroid or even Megaman kind of game. And while some people automatically tend to escape by the sound of that names, I just get more and more excited about it.
While I would definetly recommend the game to everyone who liked one of the mentioned games, I also think there are some things missing right now. Here is a list of issues:
- The story. When you open the current alpha build you instantly enter a city which does neither introduce itself nor the characters.
The prices. After playing ~2.5 hours I managed to reach level 4, which means I increased strength and vitality by 2 points each. I find it seriously hard to collect enough essences to make Daltyn a better soldier. Especially as all of your essences are resetted when he dies. Also creating mana and healths potions is super expensive.
- Fall damage. Right now you don't lose any health points when you jump from high locations. As you lose HP when drowning, you should also lose HP when falling from high places.
- Nests. After an hour of gameplay I found rat nests which spawn an unlimited amount of rats. Though I can see the charm of having a gazillion of monsters running around like crazy, there is also one issue with that: You can easily grind them. Just locate yourself in front of a nest, wait for a mob and kill it. After a while you will have enough essences to level up without ever being in serious danger. I think the nests should stop spawning monsters after a certain amount.
Besides those issues I didn't find any critters yet. Its just a wonderful game :)
Though I am not entirely sure if it has not been like that before, I noticed after the todays update that one is not really losing all of the collected essences. It is more like you are dropping them at the place of death and once you go back there, you will find them swirling around and waiting for you to collect them again.
The mini map has been updated. It does now look a tiny bit more like a real map rather than a Lego-esque thingy with dozens of squares on it. Sidenote: I "finished" the game today. Its so sad...