THE gap between independent games and tentpole releases is narrowing by the month. In fact, many modern independent titles are far better than the tentpole games of 20 years ago. Chasm, despite the name, narrows that gap even further.
Chasm represents a very particular section of indie gaming – crowd funding. The game was funded on Kickstarter more than six years ago, taking all those years to finally release this month on consoles and PC. It’s not a classic but, like many Kickstarter games, it does a fine job of mimicking a classic, while adding twists of its own.
In this case, Chasm is another ‘Metroidvania’, the genre named after 2D platform kings Metroid and Castlevania. The twist in this case is that while each of the rooms are hand-crafted, the game ‘stitches’ them together in a map unique to your playthrough, called a ‘seed’. You can even share this unique map with friends so they can play through the same seed.
Procedurally generated maps aren’t a new idea in gaming, or even 2D platformers, but Chasm does just enough to elevate itself beyond competitors. This is mainly down to the sheer level of polish on display, from the excellent controls, to the quality retro graphics, to the catchy music and large amounts of equipment and upgrades for you to find.
Playing as a trainee knight in the Guildean Kingdom, you are sent to explore why the inhabitants of a local mining town have all disappeared. As you explore the mine, you discover that not all is what it seems. (Yes, the answer is monsters.). As you continue down through the titular chasm, you will explore six large areas that have been randomly stitched together, freeing villagers to increase your abilities and finding new equipment and spells along the way. You’ll also discover more about the history of the mine and the secrets that were locked away there.
If you can already picture exactly how Chasm might play, then it was a game designed for you. Clearly inspired by the likes of Symphony of the Night and even reminiscent of contemporaries like Steamworld Dig, Chasm is like a familiar pop song that you’ll hum all the way to work and back. Ironically, it has no real depth to speak of, but Chasm’s excellent construction and love of the genre more than make up for that. Mind the gap!
Meanwhile, the gap between the Nintendo Switch and other consoles isn’t always evident, but Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is here to remind us that the divide is real. Earlier in the year, Monster Hunter World became one of 2018’s most successful games and a huge win for Capcom. A big reason for this were the upgraded graphics and online capabilities of consoles and modern PCs.
When asked if Monster Hunter World would be coming to the Switch last March, Capcom president Haruhiro Tsujimoto said: “Taking into account various conditions, bringing Monster Hunter: World to Switch is difficult. The reason is that the Switch has different functions from other stationary consoles as well as different players.”
So it proved. Later this month, Monster Hunter Generation Ultimate comes to the Switch as an upgraded version of a 2016 handheld 3DS game, in place of Monster Hunter World. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that the Switch simply wasn’t capable of the latter’s technical feats. Still, Generations Ultimate is a fantastic package, with the longest monster list of any game in the series. It was also critically acclaimed upon first release, so Switch owners can expect a great game nonetheless.
Finally, for many gamers, there was a huge gap between what we wanted from Fallout 76 and what we are getting. The latest entry in Bethesda’s classic RPG franchise isn’t a single-player adventure, for which the series became loved, but an online survival game.
Still, if the idea of roaming the wasteland with friends, building bases together and taking down opponents sounds tempting, then the Fallout 76 beta release in October is a great place to test that theory. In fact, Bethesda have announced that the beta will include the full game and all progress will carry over to the launch in November. So early adopters can put some distance between themselves and the newcomers.