Scarred World, Strained Tactics
HIGH The feeling when an encounter is perfectly solved.
LOW The moment a single shot is missed.
WTF Pheromones to summon sentient trees.
TRANSCRIPT: Hi everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from GameCritics.com.
The world is sick, plagued by a horrifying phenomenon known as the “Miasma” — it’s a strange energy that twists creatures into monstrous beasts or simply rips them apart.
In a small settlement called Sedentary, the legendary hero Bah Mahdi could keep the town safe, but she’s been missing for a while. Before she vanished, she left her son Elvis and his mechanical brother Diggs with a glove that could interact with the Miasma. These two brothers now search for Bah Mahdi to bring her back home and a way to save their world.
Miasma Chronicles is a turn-based tactical RPG where players will scour the land in search for resources and allies to stop the miasma and save the town of Sedentary. Along the way they’ll run into bandits, monsters, and overlords known as “The First Family” who will do anything to stop them.
Play consists of exploring abandoned towns and cities in real time, finding treasures and resources that can be used to buy items like health packs and grenades, as well as weapons and augments like scopes and special bullets. As players fight and gain experience, they can level their characters up to gain more health or armor, or special attacks and buffs.
Of course, enemies can be found in every area, so while exploring, players will discover there is a sort of stealth element here.
Before a fight starts, the characters can sneak and freely move into spots where they’re in an advantageous position. If players can remain hidden and have silenced guns, they can even take out some enemies before combat kicks off. Otherwise, the player gets the drop on any bad guys before the game shifts into traditional turn-based combat.
At this point, movement becomes grid-based, and each character will have two action points to use for moving, shooting, using an ability or item, or reloading as needed. Each grid space can also have some cover to it which can help lower the chances of getting hit, or to aid in mitigating damage.
While I enjoy the dynamism that this stealth element gives to Miasma Chronicles, its importance makes each combat encounter vary wildly, both good and bad. In one skirmish near the start of the game, I could take a sniper character and scout ahead and get a lay of the land. With a group of ten enemies, I was able to silently remove all but two before they knew I was there, making the rest of combat a breeze. Cases like that make combat seem like more of a puzzle to be solved.
On the other hand, they don’t all go as smoothly as that.
A later encounter was story-based with a cutscene before it. This means I didn’t have a chance to do any type of stealthy setup, and my characters spawned into combat out in the open without cover. Since the enemies moved first, one of my characters was immediately downed before I had a chance to react. These two examples are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the overall balance of combat felt off for the entire campaign.
Resources are scarce in this ruined world, and there’s no automatic healing after battles on the normal difficulty. Since party members can go down in two or three shots, every single hit feels serious. Better equipment is also doled out very slowly, and differences between weapons are negligible. While it’s good that progress can be made with the starting equipment, static equipment leads to stale tactics for each encounter. To get ahead, players will need to do side quests, which kind of cancels out the ‘side’ part if they’re necessary.
As far as the narrative goes, there aren’t any surprises, either in how the story is told or what the story beats are. It all falls a bit flat for me, and I don’t have a connection to Elivs or the other party members in a way that made me feel hooked in.
While I’m enjoying Miasma Chronicles, I don’t think it’s one I’m going to stick with. There are too many moments where the deck feels stacked against me in combat, and there aren’t many ways to get on par with the difficulty curve, let alone get ahead of it. The developers get very close to something great here, but there’s something off in their formula and it’s just not clicking in a way that feels satisfying.
For me: Miasma Chronicles gets 6 mutant frog people out of 10.
Disclosures: This game is developed by The Bearded Ladies and published by 505 Games It is currently available on PC, PS5, and Xbox. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 15 hours of play were spent playing the game, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, and Violence. From the ERSB website: “This is an action strategy game in which players help a man and his robotic brother collect a substance called Miasma. From a 3/4-overhead perspective, players traverse post-apocalyptic cities, recruit party members, and engage human enemies and fantastical creatures (e.g., mutants, giant spiders, robots) in turn-based tactical combat. Players use machine guns, rifles, rocket launchers, and explosives to battle enemies around grid-based environments. Battles are accompanied by realistic gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain. Some attacks are highlighted by a closer perspective that follows the character’s bullet shot. Enemies emit blood-splatter effects when hit; some environments depict large blood stains on the ground and/or near corpses (e.g., corpses impaled on a wall). The game contains some suggestive/sexual material: the ruins of a sex shop, containing toys and inflatable dolls; signage with phrases such as “XXX”; “Marks X Toys”; “Pervert Parkers”; fantasy creatures depicted with exposed buttocks. The words “sh*t” and “a*shole” are heard in the game.”
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is text in game, but text is not resizable. Audio mostly serves aesthetic purposes and is not needed for gameplay. The game is fully accessible.
Remappable controls: Controls are completely remappable.