It took quite a while for me to finally get this review out.
It’s not because I was too busy; There hasn’t been a whole lot else to occupy my time outside of my normal workaholic lifestyle. My health has been it’s usually spotty self. Hell, I haven’t even been playing many other games.
The review has been delayed because, well.. The game started to bore me fairly quickly after I wrote up my first impressions, which means the review itself is less than appealing to put together.
Let’s dive into it.
What is Miasma Chronicles
Miasma Chronicles is an approachable stealth tactical game with a story that’s going to remind you a lot of Full Metal Alchemist in a lot of ways (if you’re familiar with the anime). You’re trying to track down your mom on the other side of a giant McGuffin blocking your path, and you’re just a little kid learning to control his powers, essentially, while you adventure around the apocalypse with your brother who’s in a robot body.
You meet other folks along the way, perform tasks for them, and convince others to join you as you run around trying to solve all the world’s dire problems. Toss in a liberal amount of tongue-in-cheek humor, and you’ve got the game.
There are 3 core gameplay modes: Exploration, ambush, and combat.
Exploration and combat are as you expect: Exploration is the standard real-time walking around you do in the game world to get from point A to point B, looting things, interacting with regular NPCs, etc. Combat is the standard turn-based tactical fare anybody who has played a game like this should be familiar with.
Let’s do a brief dive into the ambush gameplay first, though.
The stealth system of Miasma Chronicles
Before you engage in combat in Miasma Chronicles, you can get all sneaky. You can crouch and creep through an enemy’s location to pick off stragglers and get yourself into an optimal position for an ambush. You can also separate yourself from your team, spreading yourselves out to cover the most ground in as expedient a manner as possible so you don’t prolong combat (more on that later).
Initially, you’ll do this in real time, avoiding enemy patrols, moving from cover to cover. You can then get to a good cover point to hide at and switch to another character to move them around, or you can enter “ambush” mode. Ambush mode is turn-based and uses the same system as combat, but your foes aren’t aware of you yet and therefore won’t engage you until you alert them to your presence.
If you have a silent weapon you can eliminate various enemies with sneaky attacks, lure them away with distraction items, or just outright start the whole shebang off with a boom and move directly into standard combat mode.
This is a good system that, unfortunately, is absolutely critical in order to succeed.. So let’s talk about combat next.
Miasma Chronicles’ Turn Based Combat
Once you enter combat things become much simpler: Whichever side initiated the ambush gets to go first. If you’re the initiator, that means you and all your companions get to make their first actions.
Actions are handled via a simple 2 action mechanic: You can move and shoot, move and reload, move a longer distance, move and take another sort of action (such as a power), or just shoot/use a power.
There is a standard cover system that most tactical game fans will be familiar with. Verticality and line of sight plays a role in combat as well, and you’ll also have the RNG gods to thank if you play on the classic tactical setting; otherwise, maneuvers like flanking are guaranteed hits for both sides.
Of course, that brings me to my first real gripe: Combat gets a little.. Long.
Your standard enemies can be eliminated in one or two hits typically, but later on you’ll encounter some more powerful enemy types that can just absorb punishment.. And some of those can heal or spawn new enemies, making encounters go even longer than you’d like.. And that’s assuming you’re dealing with just ONE wave of enemies.
This also means that if you failed to plan adequately from the beginning with the ambush system, you’ll end up with at least one or two of your companions downed; Thankfully they’ll get back up after combat is over, albeit at reduced health until you heal them, which leads us into the other criticisms.
Miasma Chronicles: Far from perfect
I encountered a handful of bugs in my time playing the game, but thankfully none were show stopping. There were a handful of rendering and movement glitches, and explosions occasionally caused a major performance dip (thankfully less of a concern given the turn-based nature of combat).
The economy, however, is at best boring, and at worst severely broken.
Getting new gear is always exciting.. Although in Miasma Chronicles, most of it fails to land any real impact in gameplay. Sure, there are some unique weapons here and there (such as the disc launcher that can ricochet), but overall there is very little that’ll make you say “Oh, I feel powerful now”. Not even the Miasma-based powers have all that much excitement to them, and I more often than not found them fairly bland and only mildly useful.. Which is good, because the resources used to make use of those powers don’t regenerate.
You need to use consumables.. A lot. If you’re playing on any difficulty other than the easiest, your best bet is to just spend all your money on healing items: You’ll need them to heal up after battle.. And in cases where you yourself get ambushed, during.
Let’s wrap it up, shall we?
Should you play Miasma Chronicles?
If you’re a fan of turn-based combat and like to see stealth mixed in well, it may be worth a shot.. Just be prepared for a slog with a lot of same-ness as you get further and further into the game.
The initial novelty began to wear off for me at around 5 hours, and after that I was just.. Tired. Done. Ready to play something else.
The duration of combat is really what kills it for me: If engagements weren’t filled with so many enemies – and later so many bullet-spongey ones – I might have enjoyed myself more, but as it stands you walk around an amazingly well-detailed world briefly and then have to deal with an over-extended turn based combat session.
If you really, REALLY like classic turn-based combat, then sure, you might be in for a good time.
For me, however, I just got bored with it.