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Game Info:

Miasma Caves
Developed By: Windy Games
Published By: Windy Games
Released: Feb 28, 2020
Available On: Windows
Genre: Action-Adventure; Platformer
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single Player
Price: $19.99

Thank you Windy Games for sending us a review code!

Miasma – an oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere, smell, or vapor that surrounds or emanates from an area. Not many people are familiar with the word “miasma” so I’d figured I’d define it. In a way, the title could be described as “Unpleasant Caves”, but don't take the phrasing to heart—the experience is not anywhere near what I would call bad. So Miasma Caves by Windy Games stars Lesath, a young female draconid (a human-shaped dragon creature) who is searching for her missing family. She resides in Radiant Ridge, where other draconids live. The titular cave is near the village and not only must she find her family, but also uncover the secrets of the cave.

Miasma Caves is a 3D third-person action-adventure platformer with a few features and mechanics taken from other genres. For one example, the cave Lesath explores is randomly generated and can be reset either by fainting in the caves or talking to a specific NPC. Instead of Lesath fighting against beasts or monsters that lurk from within, the environment itself is her enemy. Cave-ins are very frequent and one has to be on the lookout for falling rocks. The deeper you go, the more dangerous the environment becomes.

When you first enter the caves, you’re given very little direction. The only sense of direction given is a compass that points in a vague direction or back home. Nothing on the compass is detailed so it’s up to you to make progress yourself. The general gameplay loop is that you’ll slowly explore the caves, grab any loot that you can, and then exit safely to sell the goods in the village. You’ll use the money earned to buy more and better items, and upgrade the village buildings. Be careful, as succumbing to the miasma in the caves means you’ll lose everything in your inventory.

Miasma Caves
Highlights:

Strong Points: Engaging spelunking due to the interactions between supplies and cave; cute artstyle and characters
Weak Points: Environmental collision issues; a few softlocks; slow progression
Moral Warnings: Some supernatural elements in play, such as will-o-wisps

In the caves, not only does the falling debris lower your health, but simply staying in the caves does too. Your health bar acts as a standard health bar and also a timer. Fortunately, the equipment either bought from the store or found in the caves can make your spelunking easier. Torches and glowing lights can be used to see your surroundings better as the cave is naturally dark, and shimmering stones can be placed along the ground to give yourself a path to follow the next time you enter the caves. Gear has a variety of effects such as letting you float for a time, a backpack to give more inventory space, or a scarf to lessen the effects of the miasma (giving you more time). Other equipment includes support beams to prevent cave-ins, rope to climb up or down areas, or bombs/pickaxes to dig. Naturally, Lesath can use her claws to dig, but digging without the tools is rather slow.

I stated before that monsters and beasts are in the environment, but they do not harm Lesath specifically. There are about a half-dozen creatures that can be found in the games and all of them are non-confrontational. Some of them do harm your progression, however, as slimes really like the taste of the glowing stones used as markers and will sometimes eat them.

In the caves, the environment is made out of voxels, while the characters and creatures are made from cel-shading. I found many of the characters to be cute. The art style is pleasing even though it isn’t highly detailed . The variety ranging from rocky caverns to icy tunnels keeps the exploration feeling fresh. Although the draconid people mostly share the same body type, the style of clothing and hair color helps differentiate them from each other.

The spelunking in itself is enjoyable. It feels more like a simulator as Miasma Caves doesn’t hold your hand at all. Controls can be used by keyboard+mouse or controller. It's a simple control scheme with eight-directional movement and hotkeys to use certain items/consumables. Keep in mind that the controls cannot be remapped so you better get used to what you choose. After the basic tutorial, you’re left to figure out everything yourself. Venturing deeper into the caves, hearing the mystical and mysterious music is cool. Each depth within the caves has its own music theme too. Although due to the slow progression, the music can get repetitive after a while as you’ll hear the same tunes constantly. The items found all hold their own set of lore as well and discovering stuff is rewarding.

Miasma Caves
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay 14/20
Graphics 7.5/10
Sound 7.5/10
Stability 3/5
Controls 4/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence 10/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

However, what isn’t enjoyable is the stability. A few softlocks aren’t exactly a “miner” issue as the game is constantly autosaving and you can quit at any time to continue progress. I did have a scare where the path back home just vanished. Fortunately, simply quitting to the main menu and starting back up my file returned the layout to its original self. What is a big deal is when the collision detection goes out of whack and causes Lesath to miss a platform or even fall to untimely fainting. I’m perfectly fine when failing is something I could have prevented, but losing large amounts of progress from a moment out of my control is when I get peeved. It happens frequently enough to hamper my enjoyment, but not enough to completely dismiss the game.

In terms of moral warnings, there really isn’t much. The most notable aspect is the creatures, namely the will-o-wisp which is a type of ghost light. One of the ways Windy Games advertised Miasma Caves is that it is a non-violent adventure. Although Lesath can be harmed by the environment, she cannot bring harm to the creatures and vice versea. The most she can do is scare them off with her claws. From what I’ve seen through the lore, language is kept clean, but I did not collect every piece of treasure. Collecting treasure is randomly generated so obtaining all 171 treasures is something I would not be able to achieve anytime soon (I’m only commenting on what I can).

I didn’t enjoy Misama Caves as much as I anticipated, but it is still a fine game in its own right. Caving, spelunking, potholing—whatever you want to call it, is fun to do when it wants to work. Even if beating Miasma Caves only requires you to reach the bottom and then make your way back up safely, there is plenty for the completionist out there. Collecting all treasures, finding all creatures, fulling upgrading your village and completing all quests are reasons to come back. Understand that this task is for the patient one as slow progression is the norm and failure is very punishing so impatient players should avoid this at all costs. If you are curious about cave exploration, you can’t exactly go wrong with Misama Caves. It’s also very family friendly.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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