The great thing about independent games is that occasionally someone will create a game based on a genre not often seen in today’s gaming marketplace. This is exactly what ESP Games have done with Miasma 2.
Miasma 2 is a turn-based tactical action title. You have an option at the start of the game to choose who you’d like your main character to be, ether the bald-headed Paul or the blonde Lina. Although the dialog differs slightly based on your choice the game’s overall storyline still plays out the same. Later in the game you’ll get to command 2 or 3 cast members during certain missions, so don’t worry too much about your initial choice.
As mentioned earlier, this is a turn-based affair. During the game’s missions you choose where/what you’d like your team of characters to do by selecting them one by one. Every action expels an Action Point (AP), so for example to move to a piece of cover 2 blocks away, that’ll be 2 AP. Want to throw a grenade? That’ll be 4 AP please. You start the game with 8 AP per character per turn, although you can upgrade your maximum amount of points per turn as you progress through the title. Once you’ve selected and ordered each of your characters to do various actions you then ‘commit’ to your choices and watch the action pan out. The enemies also take their turn before coming back round to your go again. With it being turn-based it does slow the pace of the game down, but this title is all about tactics.
Speaking of upgradable abilities, their are plenty on display here. The usual suspects are upgradable, health, damage output and so on. You earn experience from finishing missions. You’ll gain a better score depending on how well you do. So, again for example, if you complete a mission in only a handful of turns you’ll earn more points. Stealth kills will also gain you additional experience.
While the missions play out from an isometric point of view, to give you a better vantage point to see where you can move too, etc… between missions you’ll be able to walk around the teams base from a first-person perspective. In those moments between missions you can walk into various rooms and talk to other cast members. You’ll also get to upgrade your characters and re-stock any items you’ve used. Once your primed and ready for your next mission you can chat to your operations leader and move on with the story.
During conversations with other characters you’re given multiple choice questions and answers, which was a nice surprise. While the game itself doesn’t alter depending on what you’ve said they will of course generate different responses from whoever your chatting too. In our interview with David from ESP Games he does mention The Witcher 2 as one of his favourite titles, of which also features similar conversation mechanics.
Miasma 2 is of course a sequel. I hadn’t played the original title, so had hoped I’d be able to pick up the story pretty quickly. While the game does reveal different factions, and in some cases explains who or what they are, sadly it doesn’t always do this. You’re part of the resistance, a member of the ‘Citizens of Free Thought’ who are trying to free the world from the grips of an organization called Vilhelm Industries. Like I said, the game does go some way to explain what has happened previously, but if you’d like to fully understand what’s going on and who’s who, your probably best playing the original first or researching online.
The mission landscapes are scattered with objects for you to take cover behind, which gives you bonuses. The game’s animations are basic and animate when firing weapons, taking part in conversations, etc. The faces are well modeled, but sadly feature no animation, so body language and the tone of their voices are left to portray their emotions. The voice recordings have been done to a good standard, and for the most part the script is well written.
It’s a fairly good looking title graphically. I was also impressed with the weather and reflection effects, which add to the atmosphere. Speaking of atmosphere, the game does have it’s own soundtrack which fits well with the team based tactical action that’s going on around you.
The actual combat and moving around during the turns is all about utilizing your Action Points well. Grenades require you to be very close to the enemy you wish to throw it at, although if used correctly they’ll deal some damage to any enemies next to your target. Guns vary in range. Stealth kills are possible if you move up to the block behind your enemy.
Miasma 2 has re-introduced me to turn-based games, as it’s been a fair while since I’ve played a game of that style. It’s great that such a small independent studio has gone to a large lengths to bring an RPG with turn-based combat onto the marketplace. The storyline will confuse new gamers to this IP, and the non-changing expressions on the cast of characters is certainly a little scary…
But lets be fair…this is 80 Microsoft Points…and you get a lot of turn-based action for your money. Not a genre for everyone, so download the demo first. A strong, and more importantly good indie game.
We’ve got an interview with David Addis from ESP Games coming online very soon.