After exploring the first two areas, I’m ready for more
Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to check out the alpha build of Discord’s enchanting procedurally generated action-RPG platformer Chasm. Now that I’ve finally had some hands-on with the game, I’d like to share my impressions.
We’ve talked about this gorgeous game on several occasions, but for those of you still unfamiliar with it, Chasm‘s list of influences should shed some light on what the team is going for. When asked which titles served as inspirations for the game, director James Petruzzi listed off classics such as Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as well as The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man. Additionally, and this is something I would not have picked up on without poring over the game’s newer screenshots, some not-so-subtle salutes to From Software’s Dark Souls.
When I make reference to Discord’s homage to Dark Souls, I don’t mean it as an indicator of the game’s difficulty as one might assume; moreover, I’m saying that those familiar with From Software’s action-RPG will most likely feel right at home playing Discord’s title due to some familiar mechanics found within the game.
From the very first time you sit down to rest at a bonfire that resets all the previously dispatched enemies of an area, to when you inevitably begin the nerve-racking trek back to recover the swirling mist of your hard-earned experience points left behind where you were last killed, you’ll feel like you’re putting on a favorite pair of jeans.
As a fan of From’s brooding RPGs as well as the other titles that Chasm draws inspiration from, I was immediately grounded in its world. I felt like I had a sense of what it was going to ask of me, and how to best approach it from the very start.
For example, as Darren Nakamura mentioned in his earlier article, if you intend to go in mashing buttons and hoping to brute-force your way through, you’ll quickly come to a nasty end. As in Dark Souls, swordplay is best approached with caution. Getting the feel for and learning the timing of each of your weapons is crucial if you want to avoid leaving yourself open to a counter attack.
You’ll also be putting to use the lessons you’ve learned from the precision platformers and the sprawling metroidvanias of yesteryear as you explore the beautiful, subterranean world of Chasm. Discord’s take on platforming is immensely satisfying. Landing a jump never felt like luck was involved. The character’s movements feel very precise, and are easy to get the hang of. Good examples of this can be seen when traversing the vanishing blocks and moving platform sections on the map. I never felt like the controls were at fault when I took a tumble. With a bit of practice and proper timing I was leaping over the dangerous terrain with ease.
The maps, reminiscent of the aforementioned Super Metroid, are an absolute treat to explore. As you make your way across them, you’ll periodically hit familiar-looking vertical shafts, which open up new paths to the east and west. And, staying true to its inspiration, Geemer-like creatures will attempt to spoil your fun by patrolling the blocks spaced throughout, forcing you to time your jumps carefully or plummet down the shaft only to begin your ascent all over again. I found myself searching out every inch of each new area, hunting for better pieces of gear, or new skills that would unlock even more areas that were previously inaccessible.
What I took away from my time with the game this weekend is that Chasm is a beautifully-crafted love letter to all the games and genres that I’ve mentioned in this article while at the same time, stubbornly staying true its own unique identity. Even in this early state, the game feels extremely polished, and if it weren’t for new areas being locked off it would be easy to forget that it’s still an unfinished game.
Chasm‘s alpha build currently contains two of the six areas that are planned for the complete game, with additional areas unlocking at a rate of one per month throughout the fall and winter. If you’d like to learn more, or if you’re interested in getting in on it early make sure to pay a visit to the title’s official page, or head on over to the Humble Store.