Happy Metroidvania Month! As I mentioned in my review of Chasm, it’s just one of several 2D action-adventure games hitting the PC in August. It isn’t the best of the bunch, but I still enjoyed it from start to finish.
These tips are designed to make your time with Chasm even better. The game’s approach to world design is pretty unique, so I’ll provide tips for exploration, combat and survival and Chasm’s boss fights can get pretty hairy so I’ll share the best ways to outlast its biggest bads.
Think this is the Metroidvania for you? Okay. Let’s begin the descent.
How does Chasm work?
When starting a playthrough, three loading screens flicker by in quick succession: Creating world, Initializing Rooms, and Loading Tiles. This confused me at first. It’s the kind of language that roguelikes like Spelunky use to describe the process by which they generate a fresh world for each quick playthrough.
But, as you’ll notice after a few minutes, Chasm isn’t like those games. You can save. When you die, the world stays the same and you’ll find yourself, safe and sound, at the last Watcher statue you visited.
Technically, Chasm is doing the same thing Spelunky does; each playthrough brings a new dungeon for you to explore. The difference is that Chasm is long. Those other games take about an hour to complete a successful playthrough. My first run through Chasm took me 21 hours.
Rookie advice; scour the map for unexplored rooms
When your progress slows to a halt – especially if you’re repeatedly seeing areas that are just out of reach – chances are you need to find the next pair of Spiked Gloves or bundle of Climbing Gear for your toolbelt.
If you feel like you’ve explored everywhere, pull your map out and give it a close inspection. It’s easy to tell where you have and haven’t been. Rooms with doors have little, visible gaps in their walls. If a room doesn’t branch off from that door, it means that you missed an area. Head back to that room. While some rooms may be inaccessible because you don’t have the right tools, just as often, you merely missed the branch.
This advice works pretty well unless you’re playing an actual Metroid game. I can’t help you there; just bomb everything.
Forget about the backwards dash
Chasm’s two-handed combat system works well and feels intuitive. Swing your sword with square (I played with a PS4 controller), use your magic item with circle. But, one of the four face buttons is taken up with a borderline useless move: the backwards dash.
In theory, this move should be useful. Many of Chasm’s enemies thrust spears or swing swords and you’ll need to learn their animations and get comfortable dodging out of the way. The backward dash is apparently the answer to this gameplay problem. But, in execution, the specificity of the move makes it a chore to perform; often I backward dashed into an enemy, rather than away from them. A multi-directional roll would have been a better fit, but it isn’t in the game, so forget the dash and stick to jumping over or away from enemy attacks instead.
Stuck on a boss? Explore
As I said in my review, Metroidvanias with RPG-elements make getting overpowered easy. If a boss is giving you trouble, go explore the rest of the dungeon. Chasm is packed with enemies, so exploring the nooks and crannies will mean engaging in frequent combat and leveling up.
You also may find some cool new items hidden somewhere in the dungeon: there’s a Sword Hat that conjures a floating blade to fight on your behalf and a Bird Hat that summons a feathered vigilante to fly around and dive bomb your enemies.
Find the magic ability you like and fully upgrade it
There are multiple magic skills you can purchase from Narina, one of the first villagers you’ll find in the mines, including a Magic Knife, a Magic Molotov (my main), and a Magic Shuriken. Once you have your ability, you can begin upgrading it with gemstones you find in the mine. Pick one and stick with it. The abilities look different, but don’t work all that differently, so rather than having a bunch of middling abilities, double down and upgrade one of them all the way.
Check your experience meter before using healing items
This is a small thing that can make a big difference. When you gain a level in Chasm, your health bar fills up. So, when you’re deep in the dungeon and running low on health, before popping a potion, pull up your menu and check your Exp. If you’re close to leveling, try to press on. Take down a few more enemies and you may be back in perfect health.
Stock up on potions before boss fights
Like regular brawls, boss fights require you to memorize a variety of animations and respond accordingly. They’re difficult but with solid weapons most bosses don’t take long to defeat.
So the key then is endurance and a healthy supply of potions is crucial. Once you’ve rescued Ash (sorry, I can’t help you there; the locations of the missing villagers, like everything else, is randomized) you’ll be able to buy potions and tonics— which restore your health and magic respectively— and their upgraded variants, high potions and high tonics.
Don’t waste money on gear
I frequently found high level weapons and gear in treasure chests throughout the mine, or picked them up as drops after a boss fight. So, once you find Ash, stop spending money on gear, and pivot to stocking up on potions and high potions.
Don’t waste money on tonics
Aside from a few pitch black areas which you’ll need to acquire the Lantern to explore, every corridor in Chasm is lit by breakable lamps. Smash these whenever you can; between one-third and one-half of these light fixtures contain the blue material you need to refill your magic bar.
Between breaking lamps and frequent trips to the surface where a magic-refilling fountain awaits, I never needed to waste precious coin buying tonics.
Unlike in a rogue-like, when you die in Chasm you won’t lose all your progress. Like a rogue-like however, death can feel like a major loss, as Chasm employs a pretty old school save system. Upon death, you’ll be transported back to the last Watcher statue that you recorded your progress at; these are littered throughout the dungeon and show up as red rooms on your map.
So, save often. I lost half-hours of progress multiple times after an unexpected death. The most frustrating of which was when I came to a fork in the map, with a room in front of me and a room above me. I decided to check out the top room first and then double back to explore the bottom room. I didn’t have a chance to do that; the top room was the game’s first boss chamber and I got my ass kicked. I made my way back to the area about 15 minutes later and decided to explore the bottom room first this time. It was… a save point.
So for future reference:
Boss rooms are marked by a blood red banner, with three mounted skulls
Now you know.
And, that’s really all you need to know to get started. If you have any questions or additional tips, comment here or find me on Twitter: @funnelchest94.