PAX 2015: Hands-On Chasm

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On my second-to-last appointment for day one of PAX 2015, I got a chance to play a game that is probably going to be a hugely popular and one to keep your eyes on. Chasm is what I would call a mix of Castlevania, Metroid, Zelda, with procedurally-assembled order of the dungeons in a 2D format.

The unique part of this game is that all of the dungeons and bosses are the same for everyone, but it’s the order that’s different. In other words, each room and the obstacles you will encounter are detailed and hand-crafted, but the order in which you encounter them (if at all) is different.

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When you begin a new game, you’ll get a randomizer phrase (seed), and the game will use this to randomize the layout of the game (it wasn’t clear if you create your own seed or if you have one generated for you). The great thing about the randomization scheme is that, while everyone will get a different game, you’ll be able to share your game seed with anyone—in turn, they’ll be able to play the exact same game you did.

Although I love playing games with procedurally-generated dungeons, one major problem with it (in my experience) is that you can’t really get help on certain levels or talk about your experience as well as you can with a game with no procedurally-generated content. So I think having procedurally-assembled dungeons provides a happy medium between the two methods.

 
The game story is about a soldier named Daltyn who is called to a mining town to investigate reports of people disappearing in the mines. When Daltyn goes into the mine, he finds some strange happenings going on (i.e., monsters, ancient civilization, etc.).

With the design of the game, the developers wanted to emphasize three different types of game mechanics: dungeon exploration and battling enemies, platforming, and Zelda-style puzzles. There are bosses in the game, and they will always be the same for everyone but the path to get there will be different. On the other hand, there are mini-bosses maybe be different for each subsequent play-through.

The difficulty of the game is pretty challenging, and after you finish on normal mode, you will be able to unlock a hard mode. There is one last mode that’s still in development that’s going to be one step above the hard mode, but the developers are still working on the details.

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I was told that as you play through the game, it has RPG elements in it where you gain experience, abilities, loot drops, and things like that. I asked about a new game plus mode, but was told that the game is about eighty to ninety percent complete, and once it’s complete, the developers will determine what kind of bells and whistles they want to add to it.

I just love the character designs and the animation of the sprites. This game looks like it could have been on the SNES, but it’s way more polished-looking; you can really tell that the developers took their time to create this beautiful world. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I am super excited for the one and it’s probably one of my top-five games of PAX 2015.

Chasm is coming to PS4, Mac, Windows, and Linux sometime in 2016.

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Written by Jason Honaker

Jason Honaker

A software developer for over 15 years, originally from St. Louis, MO and currently living in Seattle, WA. Started gaming in 1979 on the Atari 800 8-bit PC. I play all sorts of games, but am partial to RPGs and 3rd person brawlers and shooters.

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  • Jahonius

    The colorful pixel art style really reminds me of SNES days.. Wow, so many great indies coming out!