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649827571_Chasmboxart.jpg.0d1000c92348b25ced7fa1933c9d28d3.jpgThe Metroidvania genre is well-trod territory at this point, but what happens when you throw a procedurally-generated world map into the mix? Turns out it's still largely Metroidvania. Chasm puts a unique spin on the genre with randomly generated maps while retaining all of the gameplay staples that define Metroidvania: an interconnected map that gradually expands as you gain upgrades, classic side-scrolling gameplay mechanics, and an engaging combat system. Chasm mostly hits the mark for a solid Metroidvania game, it just doesn't go far beyond those familiar beats.
 
You play as a recruit in the Guildean army who is eager to earn their stripes as a full-fledged knight. You're assigned to investigate a small mining town where the residents have mysteriously disappeared. Upon arrival, you'll find that the mine has been overrun by monsters and you're the only hope for rescuing the captured civilians. There's something more nefarious lurking below the surface though, and bits of dialogue and journal entries you can discover piece together a more dangerous monster plot. It's a decent video game story setup that is ultimately completely forgettable, but it still has its charming moments when you're interacting with the townsfolk.
 
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Chasm plays like a classic Metroidvania of exploration and combat with the unique exception that the maps are procedurally generated. You'll still go through the same main game progress beats, but the exact placement of items and rooms will vary every time you play. Chasm uses a seed system so it's possible to recreate the exact same map as someone else, but otherwise you're looking at a somewhat unique game every time you start a new save file. The result of combining Metroidvania with procedurally-generated maps is honestly a bit underwhelming though. It doesn't fundamentally change the experience of exploration and combat within a single playthrough—in fact if you didn't know the game had procedurally generated maps you probably wouldn't be able to tell at all anyway. At the very least, it's a feature that requires you to replay the approximately 10 hour game repeatedly to actually appreciate the effect, but even then the change just doesn't feel as significant as in a roguelike where there is more significant variability in the gameplay.
 
Beyond that procedurally-generated hook, Chasm is a pretty standard Metroidvania. Oftentimes you'll be struggling to reach the next save room (which also restores your health) or racking your brain to remember where that treasure chest was that was just out of reach but might be accessible now that you have a new item. Chasm handles all of these Metroidvania tropes well, but not in a mind-blowing way, and maybe that's why the little issues stand out more. Things like the way enemies drop so few healing items or money, which makes purchasing items from the town a slow, tedious process, or the way the combat feels just a bit too stiff, forcing you to adopt a monotonous "attack, dodge away, repeat" pattern. There's a small variety of weapons in Chasm, including physical weapons and magic, but not so many that you can really approach monsters in significantly different ways.
 
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That's really the rub when it comes to Chasm: nothing about the gameplay is necessarily flawed, but it never comes off as particularly inventive or exciting either. It's a totally serviceable Metroidvania that doesn't feel distinct from any other example of the genre. You'll just spend your time soldiering on from room to room, hoping for that next save point, but not really seeing anything stand-out about the experience.
 
Replaying the game with a slightly different map is Chasm's one saving grace, plus if you want a bit more challenge out of it you can up the difficulty level or turn on Mortal mode, which means permadeath. It's a fairly long game to feature something like permadeath and enemies can get some nasty drops on you if you're not careful, so proceed at your own risk, but maybe that's what thrillseekers need to shake up the game.
 
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On the presentation side of things, Chasm is a mix of stylish pixel art and forgettable music. Again, pixel art isn't treading new ground and Chasm doesn't do anything wild with the art style, but it looks good and has a decent degree of personality. The soundtrack however might be erring a bit too much on the side of low, atmospheric music, which makes a lot of the audio come off as bland.
 

Chasm does Metroidvania by the books and does it well, but it's up to you whether or not you're interested in another 2D action-adventure exploration game. The main unique feature doesn't actually impact the experience all that much unless you're prepared to devote quite a bit of time to multiple playthroughs that offer only slightly different challenges. Chasm also doesn't have any terrible flaws either though, so if all you're looking for is a serviceable Metroidvania, this one is worth delving into.

 
Rating: 7 out of 10 Procedurally Generated Maps
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