The Bearded Ladies survived the success of the hit Mutant Year Zero, took into account the mistakes of the passing Corruption 2029 and returned with the next dystopia. In the new tactical role-playing game, the studio tried to jump over its head, which is felt in every frame. Miasma Chronicles is a story-driven project with an intriguing world inspired by Death Stranding and the Elysium movie, and an XCOM combat system. True, strengths often play a cruel joke with him.
- Developer: The Bearded Ladies
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Release: June 6, 2023
Miasma Chronicles and the two previous works are connected by setting, gameplay and general atmosphere. But most of the plot and its consequences are revealed by the word “miasma”. In ancient Greek myths, people who committed serious crimes were saturated with miasma – an infection that foreshadowed death. In this idea, the universe of the game was born. The world of the future has entered the era of the Great Stabilization – a new Renaissance, when paradise was already at your fingertips, but something is going wrong.
The events take place in a post-apocalyptic future, 140 years after the collapse of civilization due to a terrible cataclysm. America was infected by a Miasma that appeared out of nowhere. Matter floating in the air, like particles of metal, causes mutations or kills everything it touches. Society is dying, and the world is practically uninhabitable.
The player finds himself in a small mining town, protected from the outside environment by hills and a miasmatic wall. The boy Elvis lives here with his “brother” the robot-protector Diggs. The soul and manner of communication “piece of iron” is borrowed from a black rapper with references to Bender from Futurama. Ten years ago, Elvis’ mother disappeared from life, wishing that he broke through the wall with the help of a mysterious glove and found it. The gauntlet allows you to control the essence of Miasma and use it against enemies, but Elvis does not have enough strength to complete the task yet.
The game builds an interesting world, with multiple factions: Miasma-worshipping mutant frogs, walking trees, a Star Wars Jedi-like secret order, and a greedy corporation.
The highlights of the story are engaging, the dialogue is humorous, and the characters and their personalities evolve. There are problems, but there are a couple of plot twists with the disclosure of the past, which are pleasantly surprising. It is clear that in such a video game you are waiting for something famously twisted in the combat system, but it is difficult to find fault with the introduction. The first dive will be exciting, which is also facilitated by the impeccable “Code”, meticulously describing all aspects of the game. A little later, an understanding of superficiality will come, irritation with the behavior of Elvis, but in the story the studio has progressed.
The player receives conditional freedom, goes through the main and additional tasks, gets acquainted with the mechanics, enjoys the graphics and effects. Not to say that the game looks like a new generation project, but for tactics it is extremely attractive. Miasma Chronicles is a qualitative leap from the studio’s previous titles: staged scenes and animation are not sensational, but solid, and the endless whirlwinds of Miasma showcase spectacular particles and beautiful lighting effects. This is expressed in the exactingness of the PC configuration and imperfect optimization. By the way, the game was created on Unreal Engine 4.
Combat in Miasma Chronicles is a challenge, especially at higher difficulty levels. The combat system is heavily carried over from past games and is based on Feraxis Games’ modified XCOM rules with grid, cover, and hit percentages.
As in Mutant, the developers have provided for the inexperienced or tired of moving their brains a “story” mode – with weak enemies and health restoration. At higher levels of difficulty, you will have to: engage in exploration; plan carefully; study the map and the location of enemies; find out the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent; choose what to attack. Whether the strategy is correct will be explained by the enemy – he has a numerical advantage and the ability to tear apart a team of three heroes that wanted to attack head-on from the first moves. You will have to load and change the course of collisions often. At the first levels, the game knows no mercy, becoming easier with pumping, power-ups and new weapons.
The system is tried and tested, but feels a bit outdated. Another thing infuriates: the rule “we walk, and then we shoot”; ill-conceived abilities with reloading after five turns (the battle often ends earlier); high cost and dependence on super-cool “healers” that restore health and revive the fallen; You can’t play the game in stealth. But you can distract the attention of the enemy with the help of a thrown bottle. But already in the middle of 2023, it’s time to change and develop the mechanics of “XCOM Tactics”, and not use the developments of a decade ago! Why don’t the heroes shoot in sync and take down some “fat” enemy before he has time to call his followers?
Leveling up a character will increase health and grant one Skill Board point for customizing abilities. For example, Elvis will be more proficient with the Miasma control gauntlet and the Cover skill, which destroys enemies in a cone of defeat; Diggs will become a shield and a “tank”, knocking down the weak ones. Experience is gained in battles, is given for completing main and side tasks, as well as finding treasures-trophies of the past, like beer and cheese sticks that have gone into oblivion.
The maximum level is 25th and this is not enough – you reach the ceiling much earlier than the end of the game. And experience is not enough to pump all the abilities available in a small amount.
The trio participating in the battles are equipped with weapons for long-range combat: assault and sniper rifles, shotguns, as well as special generators with additional armor, healing and other abilities.
In the process, you can find concentrations of Miasma, endowing the glove with special powers – causing damage, controlling monsters, summoning creatures. The use of forces is spent local mana, “kilowatts”, replenished by energy cells. A glove with a set of “spells” is able to change the fight in favor of the player.
The economy is the weakest part of the game. Merchants offer weapons that can be found without them. At the first stages, it is worth buying exclusively “healers” and consumables. It’s funny that a beer bottle costs more than a grenade. It is necessary to lure the villains out of the common herd for silent elimination. It is probably meant to be a wild rarity.
The passage of Miasma Chronicles will take about 30 hours, taking into account side tasks, and even more on high difficulties.
There were bugs in the game – characters got stuck in textures, refused to interact with objects, and explosions sometimes caused wild “brakes”, freezes and even crashes of the game.
Miasma Chronicles is a linear story of growing up and self-discovery, where the growth of the hero and companions are intertwined with environmental issues. “Bearded Ladies” once again proved that they are good at tactics and are able to captivate from the first minutes. If the player does not have a syndrome of high expectations and a desire to look for cliches in everything, then the plot and gameplay will be delayed.
There is a strange moment with the behavior of the protagonist and his mother, but they can be endured. Not everyone will like the combat system – I want something more modern. But in the hands of a skilled tactician, the project will shine and unfold.
The game is worth paying attention to fans of tactical role-playing games and just those who liked Mutant Year Zero. The authors have taken a big step forward.
However, it would be a shame if Miasma Chronicles doesn’t get a sequel that fixes the flaws of the original. She deserves it!
- Great location design and great post-apocalyptic atmosphere
- A large, well-described world that slowly unfolds
- Interesting fights with stealth elements
- Good variety of enemies
- Balance in battles
- Many explicit borrowings from other franchises, including their own games
- Superficial dialogues and strange decisions of the characters
- No minimap
- Lots of bugs and optimization issues
- High price