Having a good gameplay loop is essential: a foundation upon which cool aesthetics, mechanics and everything else can be built upon. Miasma Caves, which I had the chance to preview at Play NYC, may have some rough edges, but the core gameplay loop of exploration, spelunking and treasure hunting is remarkably solid, and most importantly, damn fun.
Miasma Caves is an experience focused on exploration and discovery. The story follows Lesath, a bookish dragon girl who has taken up the family business of treasure hunting to help reinvigorate her village, Radiant Ridge. As Lesath, you venture into the caves, looking for treasures while avoiding the natural environmental dangers. There are many secrets hidden in the caves and treasures that you can appraise to learn about the lore of the treasure and the world. A day of adventuring ends with you bringing back your treasures to town to sell so you can resupply, upgrade the village, and catch up with the locals before you head back to the caves to get even deeper!
The demo I played was a short, timed experience, giving you just about enough time to make it to town, explore a cave enough to fill your backpack with valuables, and return to town to see what it was all worth. And that process seems to be the core of Miasma Caves. It’s something we’ve all done in other games, be it Minecraft, Ark, or any number of open world survival-crafting games. You get your gear, venture into the unknown, find resources, and return to base, hopefully without dying horribly.
Miasma Caves is making that core experience it’s focus, rather than the filler you have to do to unlock what you need. At first, I wasn’t sure this would be enough to hold the game, but it’s put together so well I have to admit I think that it has incredible potential.
Lesath, the game’s character, has a number of tools at her disposal, from blasting charges, to pick axes to torches, and they all worked in exactly they way you’d expect. You’ll find various minerals as you spelunk your way through the cave systems you explore, and I liked that much of the loot you find in unidentified. I hope this develops into a bit of risk-reward system as the game develops, as I’ve always liked that “Do I Identify It?” conundrum.
Miasma Caves animation were quite rough, and felt stiff at times. In particular, the falling rock and cave in animation left me feeling more deflated than afraid: I’d love to see these beefed up a bit to enhance the sense of danger. Miasma Caves aesthetic is exactly my cup of tea, but it is well executed and used in a consistent way throughout the games different environments. All in all, I’m excited to see Miasma Caves develop and grow, and I think there’s real potential for the game even at this early stage.
Miasma Caves is currently being developed for PC and Mac. It is scheduled to be coming soon to Steam Early Access.