The Bearded Ladies is slowly cementing itself as one of the most compelling tactical RPG developers out there. The Swedish studio, which previously offered Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, is now debuting the follow-up title, Miasma Chronicles.
Set in a devastated post-apocalyptic world, the game combines a dark and captivating narrative with tight and challenging strategy gameplay. The idea behind the story is that the main character, Elvis, travels through a world ravaged by a destructive force called Miasma, all in order to first find his mother and then unearth the answers to why Miasma became agitated and aggressive, while avoiding and overcome the threats that constitute this dire future.
Storytelling is one of Miasma Chronicles’ strengths, as it draws players in through engaging dialogue and unexpected twists, all while unafraid to deliver truly creepy and dark moments that will make you feel like Shocked and amazed. The characters are also well-defined and feel fun, even if some of the characters are almost caricatures of American culture, the way they speak in conversation and when they call out fillets in the heat of battle.
The storyline is also backed up by absolutely fantastic environments and levels that you can explore on the fly. Whether it’s a town full of civilians, a swamp full of mutated frog monsters, a sci-fi facility, and more, no matter where you are in the storyline, you’ll want to venture off the beaten path to pick up lore items that add context to the world, Take side quests for loot and experience, and just generally solve environmental puzzles in hopes of finding some hidden goodies. These can relate to simply reading lore entries to learn security codes, or they can require you to keep an eye on your surroundings for clues on how to access hidden areas. The main questline and combat may be the meat on this game’s bones, but there’s plenty to pick from beyond that.
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Speaking of combat, Miasma Chronicles uses a tactical strategy system that has some great elements and features, but also some weird frustrations that still surround the X-COM series. When entering combat, you must order your characters to use their two action points as you see fit. This could be moving and then shooting at an enemy, or it could be reloading and then throwing a grenade, whatever the situation you find yourself in. In general, it’s a very intuitive combat suite, even with altitude changes, powerful Miasma abilities (could be devastating, but not game-breaking), consumables, elemental damage types and resistances, and different weapon types , is not overwhelmed by complexity, and the different weapon types do offer a ton of unique options.
But, having said that, I still hate the percentage system the game uses, where visuals define how successful a shot is. Although enemy units are clearly visible, you’ll often have a 50 percent hit rate, or similarly, when you think your character is safe and the enemy finds a way to sneak up on you. It can be frustrating to deal with. Combat, however, is what you do in Miasma Chronicles, and as if tactical strategy gameplay isn’t really your jam, the base difficulty takes the sting out of letting you enjoy exploration and narrative first, while more demanding difficulties mean you Every choice made could be the end of the game.
To make combat even more unique, Miasma Chronicles also has a stealth element where you can pick off enemy units before getting caught in an actual full battle. By isolating and then eliminating enemies using silencer weapons and abilities, you reduce the number of enemies in the game at once, making the overall combat more approachable. Beyond that, there are character designs and RPG-style progressions that allow you to mold Elvis and his allies into unique combatants, each with their own fighting style (for example, robot Diggs can be built as tanks, Whereas Jade is all about stealth and critical strikes), by spending skill points and inserting weapon and character modifications into place. Essentially, there’s a lot to unpack and immerse yourself in if you want to indulge in more than just a unique storyline.
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I’ve noticed some odd bugs and issues while playing Miasma Chronicles, including invisible enemies and framerate drops, but overall the game’s performance is pretty good, showing a level of polish that some recent PC games lack . The performance is also excellent in terms of environmental design, even if the character models feel a bit ugly at times.
All in all, Miasma Chronicles is a solid tactical RPG that offers high-quality combat encounters, as well as a compelling story, all set in a world you’ll want to explore. It has its kinks and issues at times, but the depth and solid performance of the RPG system is enough to keep you engaged and entertained. The Bearded Ladies is another winner in the tactical RPG arena.