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Miasmata review

Miasmata

Could have been excellent

Indie developers are being given excellent opportunities right now thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight. These services allow them to pitch ideas to the public rather than unforgiving publishing companies, and we are seeing ambitious products come out of it. A big problem with this idea though, is that while the ideas are good, the finished game sometimes lacks in quality. Miasmata is one such game to come out of Greenlight. An intriguing idea that executes well on some fronts, but there are multiple issues which prevented me from really enjoying it.

An Impressive Feat


I will start with the things about the game I did enjoy. The premise is a good one making it easy to see why it was voted for by Steam users. You play as Robert Hughes, a scientist who is unfortunately stricken by a plague which is slowly killing him. His poor run of luck continues as he is stranded on a mysterious island, unable to seek medical help. Therefore, he has to take matters into his own hands by meeting up with his fellow scientists at the research station on the island, and discovering a cure. Of course, it is not that easy as each scientist he finds seems to have met with a gruesome end, usually due to the pointy end of a weapon. All alone, with only a compass, a map, and the blood stained notes he finds in cabins to help him, Robert must research the plants on the island himself and attempt to synthesise a cure before it is too late. Sounds easy, right? Well, no, as there is a giant monster that stalks him around the island forcing him into hiding whenever it comes near. Robert Hughes is most definitely not having the best day.

It is a first person survival game and it seems as though the development team, which consists of just two brothers, has been playing a lot of Slender and Amnesia. Having your heartbeat pounding in your ears and heavy breathing are commonplace, either because the horrible creature is nearby, or you have just been running for twenty yards. In fact, it seems as though you are more a danger to yourself than the monster is as it is easily avoidable by crouching behind some tall grass until it decides to wander off. I had more trouble trying to not fall off cliffs, which for some reason brings you out in a fever rather than breaking your bones. You can cure small ailments like that by making some basic medicine out of one of the common plants on the island, or you can take a drink from your canteen or a freshwater source and sleep it off, if you can find a bed.

Another interesting mechanic is how you navigate using the map. You start out with just a geographical map of the island without anything marked on it. Occasionally you will find parchment with a smaller area marked out that you can add to your own. To pinpoint your exact location, you look at two different known landmarks in the world, and draw lines on the map. The intersection of the lines is where you are standing. Once you have your location, you can look at a landmark that you have not yet marked on the map, draw a line to that, and then move somewhere else and do the same thing. This will give you the exact location of whatever it is you are looking at, and it will become marked on your map. It seems complicated at first, but after a while it becomes second nature, as you will be looking at the map a lot. One thing it does lack is a scale though, as I often found myself overshooting my intended destination without realising.

Forage For Your Life


The main aim of Miasmata is to collect the plants around the island, bring them to a research station so you can find out their properties, and then craft them into some sort of medicine. Some plants can be combined to create extra strength medicine, or even special tonics that permanently increase your attributes. At the start of the game, you soon learn that you do not have enough strength to swim even the shortest of distances, even though Robert is able to sprint at speed pretty much whenever he likes.
Fun score 6.8

Pros

A great premise and some interesting gameplay mechanics. Scary looking monster is frightening the first few times you encounter it.

Cons

Multiple performance issues. Erratic AI and strange design decisions.

Game Screenshots