Miasma 2

Having never played the original Miasma, I wasn’t sure if this would be one of those instances where I would feel like a party crasher.  But, the developer sent me a review request, the trailer looked slick, the graphics were really good-looking for an XBLIG, and I think it’s probably a good idea to only piss people off every 48 hours.  Thus, I shelved my planned Sonic 4 review again and bought Miasma 2.  I mean, how bad could it be?

Well, it’s not that Miasma 2 is bad, or at least it probably isn’t if you’re into turn-based tactics games.  I wouldn’t say I hate them, but I rarely get into them.  I finished Final Fantasy Tactics and a couple of the Advance Wars games, and I kind of, sort of dug Valkyria Chronicles.  But I wouldn’t describe my relationship with Tactical games the same way I would with Tower Defense, where I never think about them but tend to get hooked on them when I actually play them.  Tactical shit generally has to be exceptionally good for me to get into it.  Or so stupidly idiotic, like Valkyria was, that I keep playing just to ogle the train wreck.

For what it’s worth, the game really does look this good.

So I struggled with Miasma 2, because I just found the whole thing to be so damn bland.  Everything here is generic.  The character designs, the enemies, the backdrops, and especially the story.  The game allows you to choose between playing as a chick or a dude, so I chose the chick.  The opening tutorial stage requires you to take out a couple of enemies and rescue your husband.  Right from the get-go, Miasma 2 doesn’t do a good job explaining the play mechanics.  All movements and actions feel overly complex and unintuitive.  Special abilities aren’t well explained, damage ratios barely get mentioned, and it ended before most of my questions were answered.  It’s like getting swim lessons from an instructor that is secretly taking bets on what child will be the first to drown.

The tutorial ended with me saving my husband.  And then there was the story.  Lots and lots of boring story.  And inconsistent story too.  So the dude I rescued is my husband.  At some point, he asked me why I saved him, if it was because he was a soldier or if there was more to us than that.  And then you get to choose which one it is.  Well, this is kind of fucked up on account of it already being established that we’re married.  God, it would suck to serve with these two.  They’ve already tied the knot and yet all their conversations still sound like the clumsy small-talk of two preteens with puppy love in their eyes.  I only played a few levels before getting bored and quitting, so I’m trying to picture what kind of dialog I’m missing.  I would not be surprised if at some point the wife turns to her husband and asks if he wants to go steady with her.

Between levels, you navigate a small hub world from a first-person perspective, and it’s pretty well done.  I almost wish they had figured out how to add guns to that and just turned this into a Perfect Dark clone.  Once things get back to the battlefield, the tedium returns.  In the second level, you are given a tank-thing that you can barely move, a couple extra guys to move around, and some frag grenades, which I quickly used to take out a couple grunts and a mech-thingie.  Then more baddies came in, and I was already dying on account that I didn’t grasp the concept of hiding behind shit to avoid getting shot.  I decided to restart the level.  Except this time, the game forgot to give me my grenades back.  I don’t know if I somehow walked over something that picked them up and didn’t realize it, or if the game glitched out, but I had no grenades.  I also was so bored out of my fucking skull by this point that Brian suggested it might be on account of me needing a nap.  So I took a nap, woke up, restarted the game, got my grenades back somehow, finished the stage, and it still wasn’t fun.

Thankfully, you can make the whole stage’s grid visible in the options menu. Why on Earth would you want to play with it turned off?

I did try the third level, but I realized quickly that there was no potential left for myself to have any entertainment with Miasma 2, so I bailed on it.  I’ve done that a few times here at Indie Gamer Chick, but this time it really wasn’t out of spite.  I just didn’t enjoy anything at all and I saw no potential for it to get better.  I’m not one of those critics who will say “yea, it wasn’t for me, but the graphics were really well done and they obviously put a lot of work into this game, so you should try it.”  I can’t do that.  I didn’t even hate Miasma 2.  I just don’t want to ever play it again.  I can say firmly that if you enjoy Tactical stuff on the same level I do (which is barely at all), this game won’t cause an epiphany.  If you’re a fan of the genre, I honestly don’t think you’ll get any amusement out of it besides the fact that it’s $1 and functional.  I might be wrong.  Maybe Alan, Tim, or Tristan will say otherwise.   I would like to see something else by ESP Games, because they clearly have the technical chops.  Now they just need to figure out how to nail down that whole “don’t make a boring game” thing and they’re set.

Miasma 2 was developed by ESP Games

80 Microsoft Points said the only thing they could have read on my mind while playing this was BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHH in the making of this review.

 

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

12 Responses to Miasma 2

  1. CJ says:

    Glad to see TurboSquid gets so much business from XBLIG developers. ^_^

  2. Cronachan says:

    If you look at 90% of the games on XBLIG you hafta admit that this one is pretty damn impressive compared to most others. RPG/SRPG’s are alot more difficult to make compared to platformers and what have you. Making a working stat system alone is a hell of an accomplishment. I love the genre but will agree the game was a bit boring, but give these guys some time and I’m sure they could blow some socks off.

    • I would agree with that. The fact that it exists and is playable is an achievement for XBLIGs. I’m not a fan of the slower, turn-based stuff, and as such, I’ve only played to the third mission. The pace needs to quicken, though I’d love to see these guys tackle a different genre / style and see the results.

    • stargliderx says:

      That’s an odd thing to praise. Writing a ‘stat system’ i.e. hp/mp/str/dex etc is almost trivially easy; XBLIG is flooded with 2D turn-based RPGs that do this just fine. The technically impressive part here is the shadowy 3D environments and character animation, which even with licensed pre-rigged models is much harder than 2D sprite programming.

  3. Compared to the first game, this is a friggin’ step backwards in several ways. It includes new things without fixing a bunch of the problems that plagued the first title. Is it technically impressive? Ehhh…it’s alright.

    Thusfar, I’d actually say the first Miasma is actually better – in that it’s actually playable.

    • I enjoyed both of them, but although Miasma 2 introduces some welcome refinements, I’d say the first one was better overall. Miasma 2 feels a little like the developers over-reached a bit. Their ambition slightly exceeded their ability to pull it off.

      In any case, I quite like this sort of game, but I don’t often find them. Miasma is a decent example, and Miasma 2 is both better and not as good, depending on how you look at it.

  4. Harold says:

    I really need to pay attention to just how much fun I’m having while playing a game. In retrospect, Miasma 1 was slow moving and hardly evoked any emotion. After reading this review of Miasma 2, it doesn’t seem like the developers are going anywhere with this franchise. Usually the story is enough for me to back up a game and say it’s worth renting at the least, but it’s not presented satisfactorily. This game, with it’s arcade status(it’s classified as indie, but it might as well be an arcade game developed by indie developers), might have been good enough ten years ago, but the gaming industry has evolved strongly since then.

  5. Seems to me by the review that you didn’t try to figure anything out, or expect things to just happen. I played the demo and immediately knew about the cover mechanic and the action points. Both Miasma’s are good for their genre, and especially good for the price.

  6. lol oh, my comment will not see the light of day thanks to the moderation. Censorship FTW. LMAO

    • Chances are, if you’re not spam or making personal attacks, I let comments through. You’re certainly not the only person to ever disagree with a review of mine. If you read some others on here, you would probably notice that.

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