I distinctly remember leaving my apartment one day and running into my neighbor. He looked at my shirt and said, “Wow, you like Castlevania?” Fast-forward a few years, and a few minutes on my computer, and my neighbor gave me an alpha copy of his successful Kickstarter “Metroidvania” homage, Chasm. I was given an alpha key to try the game in its current state of development.
The game, even in alpha, is polished. The gameplay is excellent, harkening back to the best 2D side-scrollers have to offer. Story elements are sparse in the alpha, but the setup is simple enough. Explore a mine filled with nasties, level up, gear up, and don’t die. I was really impressed with the delicate tight rope the game walked between difficulty and frustration. This is a game without hand-holding, where rooms are inaccessible until certain milestones are met. The enemies you encounter are initially threatening. It seemed that more often than not during my playthrough I was cautiously edging forward, seeking an area of respite lest I die and lose my progress. Not to mention the game is procedurally-generated. Each play-through is different and unlikely to have the same items or encounters as any other try at the game.
And that really is the highest praise I can give for an alpha: I want more, I want to play the final version of Chasm and see the game when its released in one big gloriously difficult old school package.