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In Miasma Chronicles, a new approach to tactical RPGs is combined with XCOM

by Michael Huff
In Miasma Chronicles, a new approach to tactical RPGs is combined with XCOM

Miasma Chronicles, an upcoming tactical RPG game, draws inspiration from many noteworthy sources. The moody, desolate design has an XCOM-like atmosphere. Combat is turn-based, similar to older Final Fantasy games. Given that several of the devs have experience with IO’s stealth series, there is even a faint sense of Hitman in this 2018 RPG by Bearded Women, Mutant Year Zero. Nevertheless, as the release date for Miasma Chronicles is confirmed, there’s an intriguing concept in Bearded Ladies’ most recent game that might set it apart from the deckbuilding and RPG crowd.

If you’ve never played Miasma Chronicles, the setup is as follows. Humanity has managed to resolve all of its ecological and environmental issues in a dystopian, futuristic United States. Now that everything is under the authority of the corporations that created the technology to keep the planet clean, a new threat in the form of the eponymous Miasma, a vaguely defined force of nature seeking vengeful revenge against humanity, unexpectedly appears.

Miasma Chronicles, a kind of weird, steampunk XCOM, merges strategy game concepts and turn-based tactical deployments to pay homage to vintage PS1 RPGs like Xenogears. Before engaging, you position your team in real time, looking for elevated places and good cover. From there, battles are won by cleverly combining the features, skills, and abilities of your group. But things take a turn.

Bearded Women studio head Mark Parker (shown on the left below, next to marketing manager Niklas Odén) describes how Miasma Chronicles has been deliberately modified to promote experimentation while speaking exclusively to PCGamesN live at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco.

One of the modifications, according to Parker, “is a skill tree that you can refund at any point.” “Thus you can use points to buy things, but if later on in the game you run into a new adversary type that would be more suited to a different playstyle, you aren’t limited to the awful cards you chose earlier.

Players of the Miasma Chronicles have the freedom to improvise and experiment with different character builds whenever they choose thanks to the flexibility of respecing. In an RPG, you often need to choose a build path very early on and dedicate everything to that one role; if you change your mind and want to try something else, you have to start your character from scratch. It’s a fairly sweet notion to get your entire project back and use the money you’ve already spent to immediately create something new.

Many of the Bearded Ladies’ developers’ time working on Hitman served as direct inspiration for the stealth features used in combat in Miasma Chronicles.

Parker says, “Of course we have a tiny piece of that DNA.” “You don’t have accidental killing and stuff like that, but there’s a little amount of stealth in that we have devices that you can divert adversaries as well as things like radios – if you turn those on, they will go and investigate,” the developer said.

You can add Miasma Chronicles to your Steam wishlist now, it launches on May 23. If you enjoy strategy and XCOM games, you might want to check out some of the other top 4X games or the top PC card games in the meantime.

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