Retro FPS games have had a great run the last few years: on top of throwback games like Dusk and Amid Evil and Ion Fury, Nightdive has revitalized gems like Powerslave and Quake, making them play better than ever on modern PCs. It feels like the well of ’90s shooters should be running dry at this point, but every few months another obscure FPS seemingly lost to time just pops up on Steam unannounced. Today’s is Chasm: The Rift, a 1997 FPS that I’m pretty sure no one has thought about since 1998.
Chasm’s Steam page calls it a “ground-breaking classic first-person 3D shoot-em-up,” though PC Gamer US scored it a weak 56% at the time, saying it didn’t compare too well to Quake, which was the current hotness thanks to, whoa, fully 3D levels. “Chasm just isn’t very interesting,” wrote PC Gamer’s Michael Luton. “The level architecture is uninspired, and the drab, muted colors make Quake look bright and cheery by comparison.”
But maybe the decades have been kind to Chasm: the screenshots on Steam look pretty nice running at high resolution, and I appreciate what feels like a very late-’90s character design style where every enemy has a bolted-on sawblade arm or guns for hands, because holding guns was so 1995. Chasm may not have been on the cutting edge of tech, but it did let you blow the limbs off bad guys, which is still pretty cool today.
Little-known publisher SNEG Ltd. has been responsible for quite a few retro game releases on Steam recently, including the Gold Box D&D RPGs and Blade of Darkness. On the FPS front (the S is for Slasher), it’s brought back Witchaven and its sequel. Nightdive regularly brings back old games, but those revivals tend to be more cult classic, less completely forgotten (though Sin might be an exception).
Some of these old shooters bubble their way to the surface, but it’s wild how many are just lurking in the depths of Steam, technically revived but likely forgotten all over again. There’s Z.A.R from Nightdive. and NAM, Corridor 7, Operation Body Count, and Last Rites from Ziggurat Interactive, another retro revival publisher that must’ve won some kind of bulk auction for IP rights to ’90s games you’ve never heard of.
Outside a couple “big” names like Bloodrayne, Ziggurat’s definitely the publisher to keep an eye on if you don’t want to miss the obscurest of the obscure pop back up on Steam. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough (or cursed enough) to get William Shatner’s TekWar one day.