Chasm And The State Of Console Betas

 

A big part of the indie games scene seems to be resurrecting dead genres, or at least evoking rare ones, with “Metroidvanias” being a popular choice. I’ve seen a lot of recent ones but have played few of them. Chasm by Discord games seems to at least have a unique and ambitious overarching concept to it. It currently has a promising Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaign going on as well as a playable demo in rolling alpha state.

Basically, it’s a procedurally-generated Metroidvania. Every time you start a new file the game organizes a whole new “dungeon” for you to beat, building it from individual hand-designed rooms I presume. Even the demo does this which makes it a valuable piece of freeware in itself.

From what I played though, Chasm seems to blur the line between Metroidvania and sidescrolling dungeon crawler. A central element of Metroidvanias is being able to access new areas of a map after gaining new tools and abilities. The Chasm demo has none of this. In fact, instead of one massive (or even small in the case of this demo) map, the demo is comprised of four floors, each one a sort of a mini Metroid-style map of its own. The game even has a hardcore mode that scores you and incorporates permadeath. When you think about it that way, Chasm is sort of a sidescrolling roguelike with elements and presentation style inspired by Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

The vibe I get upon starting up the demo definitely recalls Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. The heavy action RPG elements of those games — equipment, items, and stats to go alongside the side scrolling action, show up immediately as you start conversing and bartering with NPCs at the very start. That’s really what impresses me about the work put into Chasm. The game actually feels like it could be just as deep and fully-formed as Koji Igarashi’s Castlevania games.

That’s partly why I really hope the game eventually get’s exposure on consoles — the perfect environment for it. Right now only Windows, Mac, and Linux versions are planned, and the Kickstarter states it’s because the consoles aren’t open enough in their digital distribution ecosystems. Hopefully the console manufacturers follow through in their plans to offer ecosystems next generation open enough to accommodate games like Chasm. The demo itself is actually a good example of the possibilities.

The demo is basically being treated as a sort of open alpha, already having received at least one update, and Discord is planning a closed beta. If this game makes it through Steam Greenlight, I wonder if that demo could end up on Early Access. Sony has already expressed interest in the idea of allowing such alphas and betas to be offered on the PS4.

BULLETS:

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