I have to admit, despite being big into the FPS genre in the mid-90s, I’d never heard of Chasm: The Rift.
The likes of Quake, Blood, Jedi Knight, Goldeneye, and Unreal were completely my jam and more than occupied my time.
This one completely passed me by, so hearing about it getting a remaster definitely piqued my interest.
My first impressions are, well, it’s definitely a 90s shooter with its rough-edged weapons, jagged enemies, and grainy, gravelly textures. The game gave off immediate Quake vibes, both due to the amount of gore and limb severing and weapon similarity.
Even the beasts you find yourself going up against have that distinct ID Software vibe.
That said, it’s also a game that does not need to go as hard as it does from just the second level. It is a huge step up in difficulty, challenge, variety and depth, especially noticeable after the speed in which you can breeze through the first.
And from there the game takes one wild turn after another with a really eclectic, weird and somewhat wonderful group of enemies.
You go from old school mission briefings where an old general is barking orders at you, fighting through military bases to eventually battling in temples, libraries and castles. One thing I’ll say for Chasm, it really taps into that high fantasy vibe.
But it is, ultimately, a decent Quake clone. Which may be exactly what you’re looking for and, to be fair, does exactly what it says on the tin, but despite its quirks and variety, sadly doesn’t feel quite as enjoyable. It actually ends up being more frustrating with its tightly kept secrets and random environments you have to shoot away to progress.
Enemies are brutal and swarm you in big numbers, often taking more hits than you feel like they should. And the maps are often confusing and convoluted, leading you to the same areas back and forth, with progress often very closely concealed.
And yet, there are elements to this that feel ahead of its time, like having to hide from bosses until areas open up so you can sneak around out of sight, and eventually trap them in danger rooms so you can escape.
Chasm: The Rift is a tough cookie but because of the way the game has been designed it potentially ages better than games that, at the time, were deemed superior to it. It’s Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem all over again.
But despite its progression, it’s still very traditionally Quake’y though as you collect keycards, kill x amount of enemies to unlock certain areas, and gather pieces of armor, health packs, and ammo boxes in order to stay in the game.
You’ve even got the original game in the collection playable through Dosbox but, oh wow, does it induce nausea more than nostalgia!
Chasm: The Rift is quite enjoyable in short blasts, more if you grew up in that peak 90s era and get those pangs for what gaming used to be like. For modern-day players, however, it’s a tougher sell, both due to its price and the mechanical frustrations it brings along with it.
Chasm: The Rift is a brutal challenge that is a perfect throwback to 90s First-Person Shooters. While ahead of some of its predecessors with its mechanics and gameplay approach, control frustration, AI difficulty, and map confusion make this a hard one to love and a tough sell for a modern generation.
+ Ahead of its time mechanics and gameplay flow age relatively well
+ Nice visual updates
+ Old school, 90s shooter vibes really work well.
– AI difficulty is brutal and enemy placement can be overwhelming
– Maps often confuse
– Some control frustration
Chasm: The Rift is out now on PC
Code Kindly Provided by ICO
Tested on Steam
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