Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead (CDDA) is the greatest game I have ever played. To explain why I believe this, I have to tell you how my last game ended.
My character Jack had survived the Zombie Apocalypse for three years. He had a barricaded farm with a steady supply of vegetables and a building with enough supplies to wait out a siege. He had reconstructed three vehicles from parts and had a room with enough guns and ammunition to supply a platoon of soldiers. Jack had enough bionic implants in him to earn him his very own superhero film. He was the most successful and long running character I have ever had in this game, a three-year survivor in a game where it is a challenge to keep someone alive for thirty days.
One thing Jack needed though was gasoline and he had to go to the city to get it – and that meant fighting through the zombies. Jack loaded up his van and put on his armor and go-pack with swords, rifles, and pistols. As he entered into town he saw the approaching horde and he sped up, running them down beneath his tires. So far so good but then disaster struck – Jack lost control of his vehicle and ran right into the side of a building. It collapses, burying the front of his vehicle beneath rubble as the zombies began to demolish the rear end of the vehicle.
Jack didn’t go down easy. He grabbed his rifle and blasted a path through the zombies beating in his doors. As he climbed out, he saw dozens of the fiends of all sorts – mutant hulks, acid dripping zombies, skeletal remnants, and worst of all the boomers who blow up when they die. He had to abandoned the vehicle but there were too many of them to allow him time to change magazines. He jerked his sword out of the scabbard and cut a path to a nearby office building – if he could get them in a narrow space, he could avoid getting surrounded and overwhelmed.
They followed him into the narrow corridors, joined by other creatures already within the office building and slowly Jack began to get winded and tired – his energy reserves dwindling as fatigue set in. He reloaded his rifle but soon ran out of ammunition as dozens and now hundreds of zombies followed him in. The air boomed with concussions as each boomer – always shot as a distance – caused fires and blew gouges out of the walls and windows. The air was full of smoke and though Jack had a gas mask in his pack, he didn’t have enough time to put it on. Out of ammunition for his pistols, he swiped and stabbed until he was overwhelmed. As the zombies bit and ripped at his armor there was a rumble and the shattered office building collapsed, killing Jack and his attackers and ending his three year run.
It was glorious.
CDDA is a roguelike game – a genre which epitomizes no do-overs. You get one life and if you’re character dies, you have to start over. The big difference which distinguishes CDDA from other games in the genre is the uber-realism of the game. The developers of this game, a community effort of several very talented amateurs, strives to create not just the best zombie game ever but also the best life in the aftermath of civilization game. Here is a brief list of SOME of the activities you can do in this game:
Fire one of hundreds of various types of guns – including making ammunition for them, play computer games on a handheld device, build a Mad-Max style death vehicle, forge a sword, cook one of hundreds of meals – with nutrition modeled, practice necromancy, break into a military laboratory, construct a log cabin complete with electrical system, conduct farming, build a boat and fish, catch a disease, collect one of dozens a different books, get messed up on a myriad of different types of drugs and alcohol and then go through withdraw….the list goes on and one and the best part is new features are constantly being added to the game. I downloaded a recent build and found they added mining!
CDDA is not a beautiful game. It is an ASCI-game which is a pretty hardcore way to play but there are some very good tile-sets out there which is the preferred way to play for me. The best part is it is utterly free and you can quickly find out if this game is for you. The webpage with the stable build is here but frankly the best way to go is to download one of the experimental versions on this page – they are updated multiple times a day and the quickest way to keep up with the new features. It isn’t pretty but rabbit holes don’t get much deeper than CDDA and if you can handle it, this is the zombie apocalypse game you have been waiting.
Just don’t make me tell you about the time I fought the CHUDs in the sewage treatment plant with a sledgehammer. Its too soon.