Miasma Chronicles, tried the new game of the Mutant Year Zero team

Miasma Chronicles, tried the new game of the Mutant Year Zero team

Miasma Chronicles

Mutant Year Zero was, according to its authors, a "moderate success". The Bearded Ladies' post-apocalyptic strategy game had received rave reviews and a fair amount of sales and downloads, but what surprised the Swedish team was a completely unexpected audience. "We had made the game with XCOM fans in mind," CEO Haraldur Thormundsson explained to us during a meeting at Gamescom 2022. "Instead we found that most of those who liked Mutant are passionate about RPGs and not. Indeed, the most critical in the end were the fans of XCOM, who did not like the differences between Mutant and XCOM ".

The real cold shower, however, came with the mediocre reception of Corruption 2029 , a tactical stealth identical in mechanics to Mutant Year Zero, but with an absolutely anonymous cast of characters.

The development team had proven to get by with the rules and dynamics of the games à la XCOM, but the success of their first game was largely linked to the charm of the characters and the world in which the game was set. history.

Born with this awareness, Miasma Chronicles is the project with which the studio wants to get back on track. “This time around, we've created something specifically designed for Mutant Year Zero fans, which winks at the RPG genre and places even more emphasis on the story and the characters,” explains Thormundsson. To find out, we tried the Miasma Chronicles demo at Gamescom 2022.

History and characters

This Miasma portal will play a key role in Miasma Chronicles If Mutant Year Zero was set in a post-apocalyptic world populated by anthropomorphic mutants, Miasma Chronicles does not depart then a lot from that idea. In the near future, the planet was completely devastated by a cataclysmic force called the Miasma, which consumed entire cities, turned animals into repulsive monsters, and crystallized much of the human population within a dark substance.

It is in this scenario that Elvis grew up, a young man who was abandoned by his mother and who decided to look for her thanks to the help of a big robot named Diggs. Curiously, before being abandoned Elvis was given a mechanical glove from his mother which appears to be the key to discovering more about the origins of the Miasma.

In the battles of Miasma Chronicles, Elvis and Diggs will be joined by other characters encountered along the journey The playable demo at Gamescom was set in the early stages of the adventure, with Elvis and Diggs heading to the mining town of Sedentary in an attempt to repair the damaged glove. Having become a city of refuge for humans who survived the Miasma, Sedentary is full of people to chat with and shops to shop (in Miasma, plastic collected on the street is the currency of the game). However, not only will it be possible to leave the borders of Kentucky and visit other states of New America, but in the course of the adventure the Miasma will continue its advance, transforming the places visited and the people who live there.

"Compared to Mutant Year Zero there is much more space to explore the characters, the cinematics will be numerous and the dialogues will all be fully dubbed", says producer Mark Parker. As Elvis and Diggs walk through a series of Miasma-devoured offices, crystallized figures of people stand around a desk, someone was on the phone next to a window, while two others were secluded in another room. As in a modern Pompeii, the game's environments tell the little stories of those who lived in the moments before the cataclysm.

Since Mutant Year Zero, The Bearded Ladies has expanded the internal team, counting today about thirty of people "The tone is very serious and scary, even if there will be little jokes and a lot of black humor," explains Parker. "We will try to reward anyone who wants to dedicate time to exploration: it will always be possible to find something, whether it is secondary missions, objects or details about the story and the world". During the journey you will meet other people, but even if you can see eight spaces in the party menu at the moment, you will always have to have Elvis and Diggs in the team. The team is aware that more than someone will find it limiting, but the intention is to create a story that is consistent between gameplay and cinematics, with the protagonist of the story always present both in the battles and in the dialogues. Thormundsson then points out that "In Mutant Year Zero there was the possibility to freely change the party members, yet the players ended up using only Dux and Bormin always. from their team ".

Tactical soul

Miasma Chronicles will be three times richer than Mutant Year Zero in size and content. Miasma Chronicles remains a turn-based tactical game, and when entering battle the combat system is clearly a refined version of that of Mutant Year Zero. You can sneak up on them, encircle enemies and freely position characters to prepare for an ambush. Throwing bottles and making noise can create diversions, while using silenced weapons can also knock out. an enemy and walk away without the fight starting.

Once opponents are alerted, however, the formula is the one now established in the tactical game genre. Each character has two actions per turn, to be spent to move, attack or go to the aid of their companions; like Mutant Year Zero, it becomes essential to pay attention to cover and look for the best path to get around opponents and gain an advantage. All it takes is a mistake, a risky move, or a stroke of bad luck and the whole fight can end in disgrace. Taking inspiration from fighting games such as Street Fighter, the team has included an indicator that builds up as damage is taken: "Once charged, you can't do a Shoryuken," explains Parker, "but you can take a hit that's 100% effective. ".

As you progress through the game you will cross increasingly alien environments, including metal forests and terrains made entirely of Miasma. Additional bonus damage can then be added to this percentage based on other factors, including position relative to enemies . Things will get even more interesting when more and more unique abilities can be unlocked: one of these allows Diggs to transform into a shield and act as a mobile cover for other party members. Among the customizations of the team there are also the Miasma Chips, upgrades inspired by the Materia of Final Fantasy and which give bonuses and special abilities to weapons, such as the ability to shrink, freeze or electrocute enemies.

Despite the version tested at Gamescom was still a pre-alpha, Miasma Chronicles starts from an excellent foundation. The Bearded Ladies has clearly cut its teeth in recent years, and the new game already represents a more ambitious and refined project than Mutant Year Zero. Above all, Miasma Chronicles places much more emphasis on the story, the characters and the setting and, although the XCOM purists will turn up their noses again, the impression is that the Swedish studio has finally found its dimension.


A lot of attention on characters and setting Consolidated and refined combat system A good level of challenge DOUBTS Some animations still a little rough Will the narrative incipit be able to evolve into an original plot? AI doesn't always seem to make the most sensible choice Have you noticed any mistakes?

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