America in the post-apocalypse, mutants are everywhere and we are right in the middle of it. The Bearded Ladies’ new turn-based tactics game also wants to include a lot of story and RPG elements.
Bearded ladies are usually only found at traveling circuses, but in Sweden The Bearded Ladies are also a development studio. Above all, they got through Mutant Year Zero drew attention to themselves in 2018, they have been working with us for about two years Miasma Chronicles on their next turn-tactical prank. This is again set in a post-apocalypse, but wants to focus more on the story and role-playing elements without giving the player too much. At Gamescom 2022 I was able to gain initial hands-on experience with the title.
You control Elvis, a young guy in devastated America. Blame for the downfall of civilization is the eponymous miasma, a strange space-time anomaly whose origin and exact effect I have not yet fully understood. In any case, it causes nasty mutations, so that you have to face man-high frogs in battle, for example. You are always accompanied by Diggs, a robot that may look junk but deals well when needed.
The fights are largely genre-typical, you have two action points that you can use to move around, to use items such as grenades or medipacks and of course to attack. However, as soon as you fire a bullet, the character’s turn ends automatically, so an overzealous trigger finger is not advisable. The hit probabilities show that Miasma Chronicles does not want to be an Xcom, the percentages are not calculated in steps of one, if you have a clear field of fire, you will definitely hit an opponent, if he is behind half cover, the probability drops to 50 percent. It also has a critical hit chance that deals extra damage. Or you shoot at red barrels, which usually causes the immediate death of an enemy.
It is practical that each character in your party (this can include three people, but Elvis and Diggs are fixed) has access to the backpack and thus all items. Also, your champions will be fully healed after each fight, so the tough dogs among you might miss the thrill. As is the fact that a kind of dome forms around the battles. Enemies outside of her cannot board, even if they are theoretically within earshot. But be careful, if you move your figures, the dome will also move!
The stealth mechanics are also nice. If an enemy squad hasn’t seen you, you can activate Ambush mode from free exploration. Here you are again in round tactics, but have unlimited movement points until you fire your first shot or are seen. However, fields where you can be spotted will be very clearly marked. You should use stealth whenever possible, because your first hit deals double the damage. Perfect for taking out stronger enemies.
Successful battles also earn you experience points, which you use to level up and unlock new skills. For example, my Elvis could rob opponent’s armor, only when this is gone do you deal decent damage. In addition, you will always find Power Cores that increase various values of your heroes.
But the coolest element for me are the miasma powers. A special glove allows Elvis to harness the power of the anomaly, which in my demo allowed me to pick up and throw enemies. At other giant toads or against surrounding objects, everything is possible. But the following situation was particularly satisfying: One of the toads had holed up behind a wrecked car, conveniently next to red barrels. So I grabbed one of his buddies via miasma power and threw him onto the explosive merchandise, killing two frogs with one stone.
The special abilities cost energy, which you can fill up with items. There’s also anger as a resource, which builds up when you miss, get hit, and so on. When it is full, the angry character’s next attack deals guaranteed critical damage.
Unfortunately, I could only see a little of the actual story, but at least there was a visit to the city of Sedentary. Their mayor is a pithy head in a jar, which has a bit of appeal futurama remind. Apart from a few snappy jokes, he hasn’t said anything earth-shattering. What is clear, however, is that the world of Miasma Chronicles offers a lot of potential for telling exciting stories, and for my part I’m excited to see which mutants will still stand in my way. What is seen is definitely chic. And the slightly lower demands on the player suits me as an occasional strategist. Let’s see what the finished game 2023 brings.