After more than 5 years, Kickstarter success story Chasm has finally graced consoles with its presence. Was it worth the wait?
Chasm is a 2D action platformer with a solid amount of exploration thrown in for good measure. It features an attractive pixel art style and a variety of environments that are well designed and memorable. You play as a young knight in training who's tasked to investigate the mysterious happenings in a small village named Karthas. The name Chasm is very appropriate as the entire game takes place in a massive underground realm beneath Karthas. Every citizen besides the mayor has been captured and is being held in a cell somewhere beneath the village. So, the mayor pleads with you to investigate the mysterious happenings and save the Karthas residents.
Chasm's combat is simple yet enjoyable and reminds me a lot of the side-scrolling gameplay in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. In your right hand, you equip a melee weapon that varies in speed, strength, and range while in your left, you equip spells which allow for ranged abilities that are used to attack enemies from afar. As you explore, you'll find new weapons in treasure chests and occasionally dropped by enemies as well as several different pieces of armor and accessories that improve your defensive and magical abilities. There are over 80 enemies in Chasm and they have a variety of attack patterns that you'll want to learn although many foes will spam the same attack over and over so several high HP monsters occasionally feel like a chore to fight. You'll also encounter several bosses and mini-bosses on your journey which are the most challenging and enjoyable encounters in the campaign.
Exploration is a huge part of Chasm as it features multiple sprawling areas with several branching paths. Fortunately, the in-game map helps you keep track of where you already explored and even highlights certain items. That being said, it's easy to overlook an unexplored path or secret once in a while if you're not concentrating intently on the map's nooks and crannies.
Each massive region features three or four shortcuts and another two or three save points. Even though that sounds like a decent amount, it actually results in large stretches that don't have save points or fast travel shortcuts. This is a bit of a double-edged sword because on your first time through a new area, it creates an exciting challenge where you must progress from one safe haven to the next which results in a huge sigh of relief once you reach that next safe section. However, on repeat visits to the same area, traversal becomes a complete slog. I understand why the developer couldn't include more save rooms and fast-travel points because that would completely undermine Chasm's difficulty but man; the backtracking is simply a bore.
On the plus side, you'll regularly unlock new abilities in Chasm such as ledge climbing, wall grabbing, a lantern, and more. Each ability allows you to progress further and reach previously inaccessible paths. You can decide how much or how little backtracking you need to do and the game usually does a good job of pointing you in the direction you need to explore next. However, there was one instance when a key item that I needed was hidden down a previously inaccessible path. Considering I don't like backtracking and save secret hunting until I have all the abilities, it took me forever to find this essential item because I didn't get any clues as to where to go.
Although I've highlighted some drawbacks of exploration, there are also many beneficial aspects to it. Besides unlocking powerful new weapons and items, you'll also come across the different townsfolk. By freeing them, you unlock important new features in the town like a blacksmith who sells and crafts weapons, a woman who provides spells and accessories, a potion shop, etc. Some of the most exciting moments in Chasm are when you rescue a townsperson and gain access to their new shop or ability.
Despite its flaws, there's still a lot of fun to be had with Chasm. Exploring and finding new secrets is satisfying but traversing the same areas multiple times is not. The combat is also a mixed bag as some enemies are enjoyable to fight and others are a chore.
- + Multiple massive areas to explore
- + Enjoyable combat and upgrade system
- + Infrequent save locations and fast-travel points make for challenging gameplay
- - Some enemies are boring to fight
- - It's sometimes easy to get lost
- - Sparse fast-travel points also means you'll traverse the same areas over and over