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July 2019


Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Bit Kid
Release Date: July 31, 2018


PS4/PC Preview - 'Chasm'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 12, 2015 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Chasm is a 2D fantasy adventure platformer featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art.

Chasm features Daltyn, a young soldier who's stationed in an out-of-the-way section of the world. When a nearby mining town goes silent, Daltyn's rookie status earns him the short straw, and he's sent to investigate. What he discovers is that an earthquake has opened a rift into a dangerous underground dungeon filled with supernatural baddies. Daltyn must figure out the cause of the disaster and defeat the evil before it overtakes the world.

The core gameplay of Chasm will feel familiar to fans of Castlevania, especially Symphony of the Night. Daltyn can equip a weapon and a magic spell. In the demo, I only saw a sword and long sword, but we're told other weapons will include fists, heavy weapons and a whip (of course). There are a variety of magic spells, and they resemble subweapons from Castlevania. The goal is to make them more varied and inherently useful for exploration. In the demo, we tried a magic dagger could be used to hit far-distant objects and enemies, a flaming bottle that's reminiscent of holy water, and a fireball that split into multiple pieces. These magic tools require mana, which can be found by defeating enemies or breaking environmental objects.

The gameplay is pure Metroidvania. You'll wander the depths of the chasm and seek out bosses to beat in order to power up your character. There are two ways to power them up: armor and equipment. In the demo, we saw two of them: a slide move and a ledge grab. They don't reinvent the genre, but each opened up a lot of mobility options. The ledge grab was central to exploring the rooms. We're also told that a future area will include a double-jump and other powers. Exploring can also reward you with additional health, mana or more unlockables.

One of the coolest features in Chasm is that the game is semi-procedurally generated. This sounds something like Rogue Legacy but not quite. Instead, the various areas in the game are custom-crafted but occur in different configurations. There are some areas that are static and other areas that alter and twist around, so you may encounter different gimmicks when you go through the game. I went through the demo twice. The first time, the second area involved platforming over falling blocks above a lava pit. The second time, it was a hallway of crushing spikes. The design goal of the game is to make it feel designed but also randomized, and it works quite well. I wouldn't have guessed I was playing a random level layout if I hadn't seen it myself. There are going to be around six total areas in the game, and the estimated completion for a single playthrough is over seven hours.

There's a lot we didn't get to see. Chasm will have a hub town where you can go to restock or take shortcuts to other areas.  There will also be multiple shops. The only one we saw in the demo was the Scavenger, who gladly sells you things that he finds in the dungeon — for a hefty fee. His lineup of items is randomized, so you're not assured that you'll find the same thing every time. You can even record and share your custom playthrough with other people, so they can give it a shot!

As with many of its ilk, Chasm uses a retro-inspired pixel art style. Unlike many of its ilk, however, there is a ton of effort put into the animations. The characters and environments do a great job of capturing the classic pixel aesthetic. They're well animated and distinctive. The lack of a black border around the artwork doesn't detract from whole, and it's easy to pick out the characters. It almost perfectly captures the nostalgic feel of Metroid, games and Daltyn has tons of frames of animation.

Chasm isn't the only game on the market to take on the Metroidvania genre, but it's one of the better efforts I've seen. The charming animations, solid design, and fun gameplay all come together in a very impressive effort. We only saw the opening areas of the game, but it left us wanting more. Rather than an attempt to copy what's popular, Chasm seems interested in melding classic gameplay with modern innovation. If the full game can live up to the demo, it will be a game to remember. Chasm is coming to PC and PS4 later this year.

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