Around 4-5 years ago The Bearded Ladies released Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. I reviewed Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden when it first came out as well as its DLC Seed of Evil. Both games genuinely surprised me. They are a fun mixture of a tactical RPG mixed with stealth and strategy elements. I was curious to see what The Bearded Ladies would work on next. It turns out instead of a sequel to Mutant Year Zero, they were working on a new franchise. I was intrigued by Miasma Chronicles because it reminded me a lot of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Miasma Chronicles is a great game that should feel feel quite familiar for fans of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
In Miasma Chronicles you play as Elvis. In the future America has been torn apart by a force known as the Miasma. Basically the world has become your typical post-apocalypse wasteland. When he was young Elvis was left by his mother at a mining town called Sedentary. His mother programmed a robot named Diggs to take care of him and act like his older brother. His mother also left a mysterious glove which can control the Miasma. Elvis and Diggs are on a quest to find his mother and put an end to the evil forces that threaten Sedentary and the rest of the world.
If I didn’t know beforehand, I would have immediately been able to tell that Miasma Chronicles was made by the creators of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. It was so evident because the mechanics of the two games are so similar. In fact outside of a few small new mechanics, some tweaks to the gameplay, and the different world and characters; you could basically call Miasma Chronicles a sequel to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
You shouldn’t take that as criticism. If you read my reviews of The Bearded Ladies’ previous games, you should know that this should be taken as a compliment as I really enjoyed their previous games. I mostly bring it up for those who have played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. You can basically jump into Miasma Chronicles immediately as it plays mostly the same.
Before I jump into my thoughts on Miasma Chronicles, I wanted to quickly discuss the game mechanics for those of you not familiar with the previous games. In a way the game kind of plays like a hybrid of a number of different genres.
The heart of the game is a turn based tactical RPG. As you explore you will get into quite a few skirmishes. When an enemy spots you or you engage in combat, the game turns into a turn based game. Each character has a number of action points that can be used to take actions. This includes moving your characters around the environment, attacking enemies with your weapons, or even using special abilities. As you are almost always outnumbered, you need a good strategy to be successful in battles. You need to use cover to avoid attacks and flank enemies to deal more damage. The objective is to defeat all of the enemies on screen before all of your characters fall.
The game mixes this with a stealth/exploration mechanic. Outside of combat the game plays in real time. You can move around the environment gathering supplies and exploring the world. As I mentioned earlier unless an enemy spots you, you will choose then to initiate combat. You need to use this to your advantage. As you are always outnumbered, you need to use stealth to your advantage. You will acquire stealth weapons which can take out enemies without alerting others. Before you start a large battle, you should use stealth to pick off enemies on the outskirts. This makes the future battle much easier since you won’t be as overwhelmed.
For those who have played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, this should all sound very familiar because it is. The core gameplay hasn’t really changed all that much. There are a few new mechanics and abilities that you can take advantage of. None of these drastically change the gameplay though. Because of this I would say that your experience with Miasma Chronicles is likely going to be very similar to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. If you played the previous games you should already have a good idea of whether you will like Miasma Chronicles. If you didn’t care for the previous games, the new additions likely won’t be enough to change you mind. Those who were fans of the previous games though, should be happy as you likely will enjoy Miasma Chronicles as well. My feelings about Miasma Chronicles are very similar to Mutant Year Zero.
The gameplay likely won’t be for everyone, but it works so well in my opinion. The turn based tactical combat is not the most original as you will find similar mechanics in most games in this genre. The combat is straightforward. Strategy is key to your success. You can’t just go into a battle without a plan, or you will quickly be defeated. You need to have a plan before you initiate combat if you have the option. Positioning your characters in a way to protect them while you pick off the encroaching enemies is key to your success. You can’t take on all of the enemies as once. You need to find a way to funnel them towards you while you slowly pick them off. The combat is quite satisfying as it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you win a particularly difficult fight.
Like Mutant Year Zero the stealth exploration mechanics work great in tandem with the turn based tactical strategy. The stealth mechanics aren’t particularly challenging. You can always see the spaces that enemies can see. Therefore as long as you avoid those areas, you don’t have to tiptoe around enemies. Basically you need to find isolated enemies that are alone. You can then take them out with silenced weapons in one turn without alerting the others. While the stealth mechanics are straightforward, it is really satisfying being able to pick off enemies to make the future battles easier.
For those who are curious how open ended the game is, I would say that it gives you options. The story and progression through the world is kind of linear. You mostly move between locations defeating enemies to gain experience and make progress towards your next objective. You will receive side missions that force you to revisit old locations. There are a lot of locations in the game and most of them are quite large.
While the main structure of the game is pretty linear, the game does give you quite a bit of flexibility in combat. The characters have their own unique skills/traits. There are a number of different abilities that you can use to your advantage in combat. You also have a lot of control over where you want to fight a battle. Unless you are spotted you get to pick where the fight will happen. Place your characters on a higher level and behind cover so you have an advantage going into the battle. Miasma Chronicles doesn’t have the flexibility where each playthrough will be completely different, but it does a good job letting you handle battles in the way you want to.
As for difficulty I would say that Miasma Chronicles is not an easy game. Obviously this depends on what difficulty you play the game at. I played the game on the second hardest difficulty, and there are definitely times where I was challenged. You need to have a solid plan to avoid having your characters get destroyed in combat. You sometimes need to have some luck on your side as well. Sometimes you will miss shots with a high probability of success, and other times you will make shots that you shouldn’t make. Basically if you play on the higher difficulties you need to be willing to reload past saves when you make a mistake that wipes out your team.
In many ways I think Miasma Chronicles meets and in some cases exceeds Mutant Year Zero. There is one area where I don’t think the game quite reaches the same level though. In many ways the story and world share a lot in common with Mutant Year Zero. You play in a post apocalyptic America destroyed by a mysterious force. Enough time has passed since the destruction of the world that the game has that element where the characters don’t understand common items from our everyday world. You will meet quite a few characters in your journey. Many have their own unique personalities.
There is a lot to like about the characters and world of Miasma Chronicles. It does a good job with the post apocalypse setting. The plot and world are interesting. The game’s visuals might not stand up to a AAA game, but I think they are pretty good for the game’s genre. If you liked the story and world of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, I see no reason why Miasma Chronicles would be any different.
I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is, but I just wasn’t as intrigued by the world, story and characters as I was with Mutant Year Zero. That doesn’t mean that those elements are bad in Miasma Chronicles. They are pretty good. I was intrigued to see where the story was going and some of the characters were pretty interesting (some more than others). It just felt like something was missing from this aspect of the game though. The characters and world just aren’t as memorable. This is far from a dealbreaker as Miasma Chronicles is still a great game. I just didn’t feel like the story, world and characters were as good as Mutant Year Zero.
As for Miasma Chronicles’ length I can’t give you a definitive length as I haven’t finished the game yet. The developers say the game is around 40-50 hours and from what I have played that seems about right. How much time it will take to beat the game will depend on a few factors. If you rush through the game it obviously will take less time than if you take your time. The game has a lot of side missions where there are times when you collect them faster than you could ever complete them. You probably need to complete some of them in order to raise your level to beat the game. Quite a few of them are optional though. If you like this genre of games, I see no reason why you wouldn’t get your money’s worth out of Miasma Chronicles.
Heading into playing Miasma Chronicles I had pretty high expectations for the game mostly because I really liked the games the developers previously made. After playing the game, it basically met my expectations. The game is very similar to Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Outside of having a different world/plot and some small tweaks to the gameplay, it honestly almost felt like a sequel. The gameplay between the two are so similar. The mixture of turn based tactical strategy mixed with exploration and stealth mechanics work really well together. The game can be difficult at times which forces you to have a good strategy if you want to succeed. If you enjoyed the gameplay of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Miasma Chronicles as well. The game is basically on par or maybe even better than its predecessor in most ways.
The one area where it might be slightly worse than its predecessor is the story, world and characters. All of these are still pretty good in Miasma Chronicles. It just feels like there is something missing from this element though. I just didn’t find them to be as interesting as Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. This is far from a dealbreaker though.
My recommendation for the game is quite simple. If you never played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, I would recommend Miasma Chronicles if the idea of a tactical turn based RPG mixed with a stealth exploration game sounds interesting to you. For those who played Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, your feelings towards that game should carry over to Miasma Chronicles as well. I really enjoyed the previous games and really enjoyed Miasma Chronicles as well. If you were a fan as well, I think you will get a lot of enjoyment out of Miasma Chronicles and should seriously consider checking it out.
Release Date: May 23rd, 2023 | Systems: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Developer: The Bearded Ladies | Publisher: 505 Games | ESRB Rating: Teen for Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence, Language
Genres: Exploration, Stealth, Strategy, Tactical
Official Website: https://miasmachronicles.com/
- A great mixture of tactical RPG mechanics and stealth exploration.
- Challenging and yet satisfying combat.
- Feels a little linear at times and can sometimes be a little unfair.
- The story and world are not quite as interesting as Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
Recommendation: For fans of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and tactical strategy RPGs.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank The Bearded Ladies and 505 Games for the review copy of Miasma Chronicles used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.