I swear nothing satisfies my inner hedonist more than blowing off heads and limbs off of random gooks in video games. But I’m a firm believer in mixing up things, otherwise, I could just go back to the boring routine, i.e, the real life and the responsibilities it brings forth. I’ve never been a fan of pacifist video games but seeing this game called Miasma Caves pop up in my Steam discovery queue piqued my curiosity all of a sudden. And well, here we are. No game shall go unpreviewed (yep, they will).
Miasma Caves is a pacifist roguelike game developed and published by Windy Games. It was released on Steam Early Access on 23 January 2019 for US$ 16.99/ INR ₹ 529. As of the time of this preview, the game is in version 0.7.1.3
Since this is a roguelike, there is hardly anything that can be called a story. You play as Lesath, a tiefling-ish treasure hunter on a quest to locate…treasures…and that’s about it. Look there is far more of a story present in the Steam store page rather than the game itself. But as long as the gameplay loop is interesting, it shouldn’t matter. Right?
The general gameplay loop revolves around buying spelunking gear from the town, explore a single, big randomized cave with branching paths, find treasure, peddle the treasure to improve and unlock various facilities around the town, rinse and repeat. Even though Lesath doesn’t indulge in violence herself, her HP slowly diminishes as you explore the cavern system so there’s a bit of time management to be had. Not to mention the environmental hazards like poison clouds and cave-ins. The caves themselves are full of various treasures and trinkets that you can sell off after a successful run.
Aside from collecting treasures, Lesath can also make her own path through the cavern system by either using a pickaxe (which will run out very fast) or her claws like the fiend she is. Sadly, the level generator is not really fleshed out to take full advantage of this Minecraft-inspired mechanic. There are some nice touches like using glowing marbles (or something that sure looks like it) like bread crumbs to remember the way you came in and lighting the dimly lit pathways using a torch. While simple and rudimentary, the opportunity to upgrade shops and buildings in the hub area nets you a feeling of achievement, as small as it may be.
However, stiff and floaty the movement controls, primitive animations and lack of a good art direction caves in on whatever potential Miasma Caves has. I get it that it’s an indie game made with a very low budget. But it’s very far off from being presentable. Even if one gets past all these negative quirks, the most basic problem with Miasma Caves is how boring the gameplay loop is. There is not enough to see or do in this $16.99 title as of now. Not to mention the various crashes, slow loading times, screen lockups, random fps drops and stutters I had experienced. Maybe that is the point of early access but for the sake of early adopters, I had to get it out there.
The game was tested on the following specs:
- Intel Core i5 7500 3.40Ghz
- GTX 1070 8 GB
- 8×2 GB 2400Mhz DDR4 Ram
- Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
The idea of Miasma Caves sounds pretty cool on paper. I myself wouldn’t mind giving a few bucks to a pacifist roguelike focused on exploration and discovery, one in which you can relax to your heart’s content after an exhausting day at work. Unfortunately, Miasma Caves needs to stuff a lot more aces up its sleeves to attract potential customers (as far as this build is concerned at least). Maybe it will improve over time and will be a worthy pickup somewhere down the line. For the time being, just keep an eye on it.