Action role-playing game Chasm is Discord Games' shot at making a game that might exist in a time when Super Nintendo was still cool, founder and producer James Petruzzi told Polygon.
With 2D graphics brought to life by pixel art and a chiptune soundtrack, Chasm is a platformer rooted in nostalgia. Players assume the role of Tyrion, a soldier returning home from a long war. After entering a remote mining town where the miners have gone missing, he plunges into the ground below to investigate.
"We are trying to approach this game as if the Super Nintendo were still cool," Petruzzi said. "Maybe 3D never happened — what would happen if people kept making platformers and they kept getting bigger? We are trying to harness what was awesome with those games and bring a lot of modern stuff into it."
Chasm was inspired by classic titles such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, though Petruzzi's original idea was closer to Re-Logic's action-adventure RPG title Terraria. More adventure, less crafting, Petruzzi said. Chasm has been in development since late October of last year, but looks significantly different from its original design.
"We are definitely going for that niche audience."
"I probably prototyped that [version] for three or four months and I just couldn't get it to be fun," Petruzzi said. "I could never find the balance I wanted with the gameplay."
The game kept its most basic elements and combat, but ditched mining elements and tedious crafting. In Chasm today, exploration plays a huge role, but players should be prepared for a fight. Enemies often appear harmless — rats and dangling worms — but offer a surprising challenge. Killing enemies will yield experience points and levels, and the mines contain rare items to be found. The game is meant for any age or kind of player, Petruzzi said, but especially those with a taste for old school titles.
"We are definitely going for that niche audience, the one that grew up playing Castlevania and Metroid and all of those games," Petruzzi said.
Chasm is currently raising funds via Kickstarter, which could be its only chance of completion.
"[Publishers] grew up with these games and they love them, but when they have to go to a board and get stuff approved it is a whole different story," Petruzzi said. "We wanted to keep full creative control and be able to work on it full time, which is huge.
"We are pretty tied into [Kickstarter]," Petruzzi said.