Miasmata Catch-All

I picked this up after seeing it got approved in the recent Steam Greenlight. The premise of the game is fairly simple: you've been infected with a plague and have to explore an abandoned island to synthesize a cure while keeping the fever and delerium at bay. The game is built on three fairly straightforward mechanics: harvesting plants, researching them and making things from them; mapping the island using a compass and triangulation of landmarks; and using stealth (and occasionally running like hell) to avoid a creature that's stalking you.

IMAGE(http://cdn.steampowered.com/v/gfx/apps/223510/ss_d016c3c6578e03c88d86e40556b8597243055f3b.600x338.jpg?t=1354233652)

The game is remarkably pretty considering it was developed by a two-man team, and has an amazing sense of place. The gameplay itself is quite unusual - the closest analogy I can think of is wandering around the countryside in something like Crysis but without knowing where you are on the map (unless you can find a couple of landmarks). It's really quite reminiscent of what I remember of orienteering in school camp when I was a kid. It's very immersive since there's minimal UI: you judge your exhaustion by the sound of your breath, your health/fever by the distortion of the screen, and your notes and map are recorded in a journal. About all you get is an icon in the middle of the screen when you can interact with something. The controls take a bit of getting used to since your character has momentum and some parts of the mapping etc. could have used a little more polish, but they're fairly minor quibbles. The creature is very well done: you can go for an hour or two without seeing it, but once it gets your trail it can be hard to lose... and it's a sneaky bugger. Especially at night.

It's an odd game: sort of an extreme version of Skyrim's plant harvesting and alchemy with just a dash of Amnesia thrown in. Currently $13.50 on Steam, going up to $15 at the end of the week. It's certainly not for everyone, but if first person botany sounds like your thing, it's well worth a look.

Also, I want people to share stories of panicked fleeing through the pitch-dark forest with.

Quiet in here.

I read some posts on the Steam forum for this game and decided to give it a go. I love both first-person perspective games and adventure games. This one looks great.

I'll post my thoughts after I've played for a bit.

I snagged it while it's on sale too, but haven't had a chance to fire it up yet.

PaladinTom wrote:

Quiet in here.

It is rather. Be interested to hear your thoughts.

Quick Look from Giant Bomb if anyone is curious.

This looks right up my alley. First person perspective, minimal UI, and journal with notes are three of my favorite bull-point things to find in a game. Does anyone know if you can complete the game (is making the cure the final objective)?

first person botany

You get five points for this phrase alone.

Puce Moose wrote:

This looks right up my alley. First person perspective, minimal UI, and journal with notes are three of my favorite bull-point things to find in a game. Does anyone know if you can complete the game (is making the cure the final objective)?

There is a "win" state of some sort, since there's achievements for beating the game in 3 or 7 in-game days. Not sure what it is precisely, though. I assume either making the cure or getting off the island afterwards.

Malor wrote:
first person botany

You get five points for this phrase alone.

I wish I could claim credit, but I pinched it from somewhere else.

I've gotten to a point a couple of hours in where it has stopped giving precise objectives (e.g. follow this hand-drawn map to an area where a plant is) and has become more about exploration of the unknown. I saw across a bay earlier, will have to try and make my way to that to look for more clues. This game is great.

Alright, I gave it a go... or rather, a no go.

The engine is just way too janky and choppy to play this game on. I have a good (not great) system, and this game just runs terrible. I fiddled with all the settings - of which there are very few. I just could not get it to run smoothly and it was actually giving me nausea. Never has a game done this before to me. I think this is due to not having a crosshair. Furthermore, it is way too dark with no brightness/gamma adjustment. I thought the game started at dusk it was so dark.

It's a shame, because I love that devs are taking chances with new ideas. It just that that a lot of them don't focus on user experience and their game suffers for it.

So, it sounds far from perfect. Too bad, does sound interesting in concept.

I checked out the Steam forums and there is a beta. I downloaded it and it is remarkably better. The frame rate is much improved and overall the game runs a lot smoother. Some in the forums say the nausea comes from the poor FOV, which cannot be adjusted at this time.

I only played for thirty minutes or so afterward, but hopefully the devs put out regular updates.

Edit: Well I played for a good couple more hours and I think I'm done. Why? The fever!

This game is all about exploring. You're given very little info, a huge island, and clues to find the cure to the disease. I should love it! And yet, you get sicker and sicker and must make medicine or find a bed. Want to go exploring for a while? Nope. Find a bed. Wander aimlessly for a bit? Nope. Find those flowers that you made that awesome medicine with. Where were they again? No idea. You can't mark it on a map and you can only carry one variety of flower at a time.

I appreciate what the game is trying to accomplish. I just hate the mechanic of run from thing to thing to be safe - especially when that thing is unknown. It's why I quit Amnesia. I don't like a game that tries to build tension by withholding a resource. I see right through it and sucks me right out of the experience - which in this case is solving the mystery of the illness. I like to take my time sometimes and lately I really dislike games that keep trying to push me... somewhere?

I'm an old adventure gamer and this game reminded me of some of them when I found myself asking, "why can't I just...?"

It's more frustrating than fun.

Interesting thoughts, even if the game itself doesn't wow. Systemically driven player frustration is a delicate pathway to walk; often it just leaves to frustration.

I'm pretty sure that you can carry three different types of flowers at a time, but only one of each. You can also carry both a regular medicine and a strong medicine, which helps a little.

Overall I agree with you though - it's not tuned quite right. It's a shame, since it's got some great elements to it, but it does get more frustrating than fun after a while.

There's an interesting theory in the Steam Forums about the creature...

Spoiler:

A lot of people are saying that the creature isn't real; it's a hallucination brought on by your sickness. That's why medicine seems to keep it away for a while and why (apparently) it disappears after you cure yourself. (Haven't done that myself so I can't confirm.) So being "killed" by the creature really means you've simply succumbed to the disease.

Some of the arguments make sense (just go to the Miasmata community page to find them) but if it was intended I think they could have made it a bit clearer.

I too own Miasmata. I picked it up while it was on sale. I loaded it up and swiftly exited back to my desktop due to the difficult to ignore screen tearing. The game needs VSYNC which is currently not an option. Immersion is a big part of enjoying a game, at least for me personally. It's akin to trying to read while someone keeps interupting, continually.

I assume it will be implimented at some stage. I think I even remember reading that it is in the works.

I haven't tried to force it via the NVIDIA Control Panel, which could be an option. I had to do this with The Witcher and it worked a charm.

tanstaafl wrote:

There's an interesting theory in the Steam Forums about the creature...

Spoiler:

A lot of people are saying that the creature isn't real; it's a hallucination brought on by your sickness. That's why medicine seems to keep it away for a while and why (apparently) it disappears after you cure yourself. (Haven't done that myself so I can't confirm.) So being "killed" by the creature really means you've simply succumbed to the disease.

Some of the arguments make sense (just go to the Miasmata community page to find them) but if it was intended I think they could have made it a bit clearer.

Nice theory.

Just bought this. Planning to dig in tonight; will post some thoughts afterwards.

Played a bit. This is an awesome game -- it's deep, slow, difficult, and janky at times, but the core gameplay is fundamentally interesting and emergent. The real challenge is in not screwing yourself over; you can do that easily by rushing, or through sheer bad luck, both of which aptly emulate real survival situations.

I imagine this is a game some/most gamers would not get terribly excited about, but I think there's a subset of us who really enjoy the "hard, unyielding, but ultimately satisfying-because-of-it" game style that Miasmata is going for. It appeals to the same part of my brain that Dwarf Fortress does.

Fair bit of chat about this on the latest Idle Thumbs, well worth listening to!

Redwing wrote:

Fair bit of chat about this on the latest Idle Thumbs, well worth listening to!

I just bought this thing after listening to that episode. Really can't wait to try it

OK, put in a couple hours now. Initial impressions are very positive. It works fine on my mediocre machine (had to turn a couple of settings down, but that's expected).

The UI is so cool. I love it. The map is very well thought out, and orienteering is fun in its own right. The crazy stuff that happens when you get sick is really cool.

Don't go out at night! Oh my god. Bad idea.

I love the pressure of trying to survive. I don't find it frustrating but I can definitely understand why people would.

Despite the sometimes obviously primitive graphics, there are times when the world is really beautiful. Sunrise and sunset especially.

At this rate I may need to retcon this as my 2012 goty.

Chaotic Clown wrote:

I too own Miasmata. I picked it up while it was on sale. I loaded it up and swiftly exited back to my desktop due to the difficult to ignore screen tearing. The game needs VSYNC which is currently not an option. Immersion is a big part of enjoying a game, at least for me personally. It's akin to trying to read while someone keeps interupting, continually.

I assume it will be implimented at some stage. I think I even remember reading that it is in the works.

I haven't tried to force it via the NVIDIA Control Panel, which could be an option. I had to do this with The Witcher and it worked a charm.

If you haven't tried it yet, forcing vsync works a treat. And you should just leave it like that, always, so you never get surprised by games that think it's cool to disable it. I have no clue why people think disabling vsync is a reasonable sacrifice, it's probably the last thing I'd want to mess with to try and improve performance. Heck I think I'd just buy a new graphics card instead of disabling vsync if it came down to it.

I really need to get back to this. I lost steam on it after wandering off in the wrong direction, getting horrifically lost, and struggling to get back. I wound up mapping a big chunk of island that had some interesting stuff on it, but nothing related to the main thread of the game other than a map to some mushrooms I'd already stumbled across elsewhere.

edit: I'm a complete muppet. Was a bit lost after the swamp section, and it turned out I'd missed a fork in the road that was marked on the map. Found another part of the cure and have a good lead on a third.

Just a question, does this game involve shooting and actiony stuff?

alexjg42 wrote:

Just a question, does this game involve shooting and actiony stuff?

No shooting, but there's elements of action in an "oh god it's right there distract it with a rock and sprint in the other direction" kind of way.

If you enable the beta versions (from the game's properties menu in Steam, password "beta2"), there is a VSYNC option in the graphics menu. Improved performance, too.

So, I'm looking for the

Spoiler:

bio-luminescent algae near the ruins. I waited until dusk and I moved ENE from the large ruin towards the blue circle. I'm not finding anything glowing at all? I kept moving in the same direction right through some pools of water, but nada. Am I doing something wrong? In the wrong place?

EDIT: kept wandering around and found it. I don't think it grows in the eastern edge of the area that's marked on the map, which is where I was looking (trying to stay as close to the path as possible)

OK, I've logged 9 hours in this game now.

I seem to be seeing the creature a lot more as I go on. I had my first direct confrontation with it today and it was ugly. I'm wondering if this is based on having achieved a few of the goals in the game, or if it's because time is running out - I'm not sure.

The creature in this game ranks right up there with some of the scariest things I've ever seen in video games.

I don't think I can praise this game enough - it's really great. I can't wait to see what these guys do next.

You make me want to search the creature out- but imagine part of the thrill is interacting with the creature in context.

OK, I finished the game tonight. Took about 14 hours according to Steam.

I don't think I can speak enough praise of this game - it's been a great ride. It's right up there with Kentucky Route Zero and FTL as one of my favorite games in the past year or more.

Spoilers ahoy!

Spoiler:

I'm interested to learn what other people think about the ending. The game kind of telegraphed that maybe you were mister crazy pants the whole time, and that maybe the beast was all in your head, and maybe you kind of killed everybody and sabotaged their work. The ending seems to reinforce that, although it doesn't exactly spell it out; the main character is glad to see his own reflection as he sails away, the beast is completely gone, and the text as you leave the island seems to imply suicide.

So, where'd that box full of the cure come from? Had the other scientists already completed it before you went coo-coo for cocoa puffs?

I was actually surprised to see the depth they ultimately put into the story, and I really enjoyed the way in which it was told.

I like it when people write about this game. Don't think I'll ever play it, but I enjoy reading about it.

demonbox wrote:

I like it when people write about this game. Don't think I'll ever play it, but I enjoy reading about it.

EVERYBODY MUST PLAY THIS GAME. I need somebody to talk to.

I think it is my GOTY of 2012 (when it came out) and 2013 (when I played it).

If you're seriously determined to not play it, it's worth reading spoilers just so you can understand the depth of your error. Check out this spoiler thread on the Steam forums.

I won't tell you it's great literature or anything, but I think it's among the best (or at least, most compelling) writing I've ever seen in a video game. Maybe Kentucky Route Zero will come close, but that stupid thing is only like a quarter done.

Every AAA game I play now just makes me sad.