Have you ever played a game that you desperately wanted to like but it actively pushed against you until you eventually walked away from it forever? I had this exact experience with Iconoclasts, a game that released earlier this year, and I felt it once again with the release of Chasm.
I’m sure there will be plenty of people who are going to jive with what Chasm is doing, but I’m finding some of the things I’m encountering early on to be really questionable.
For instance, in the first two hours of playing I’ve come across something like 12 to 15 unique enemies. That sounds great at first, until you realize that you never really have a chance to learn how to deal with an enemy and their attack pattern before they’re replaced with something else. In the span of an hour I went from fighting rats to a flying skeleton that shot fire out of its mouth. I never felt like I was winning encounters, rather it felt like I was just surviving them.
Adding to the frustration though, is the fact that whenever you reenter a room, all of the once defeated enemies will have reanimated. Considering this is a metroidvainia game where you’re going to be running into a lot of dead ends, having to face off against every enemy you just fought moments ago can get really exhausting, really quickly. Which I guess isn’t so bad considering everything gives you XP and helps you level up.
Except it doesn’t matter because you’re just running into more and more powerful enemies and never really get a chance to feel like you’ve powered up. You’re just constantly bombarded with a new group of assholes who want to kill you, who happen to be more capable and resilient than you. “What’s that? You’ve leveled up to the point where this enemy dies in one hit? That’s fantastic news because you’ll never see them again.”
The combat doesn’t feel great either. In the early stages of the game, you’re just too slow and vulnerable to ever feel like a competent fighter. You have a dodge move that will push you backwards, but that never felt responsive enough to get me out of tough situations. It was mostly a game of awkwardly jumping around my enemy because that was a more reliable way to dodge attacks.
All of these individual missteps that Chasm takes contribute to the feeling that this whole game just starts to feel a little too punishing a little too early without really rewarding or empowering the player along the way.