Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead - A survivalcraft open-world zombie roguelike

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An open-source roguelike survivalcraft game set in a near-future apocalypse. Originally developed by a man named Whales over the course of several years as Cataclysm Roguelike, it achieved some popularity but development eventually came to a halt. In January, a new version was relaunched as Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.

Currently available for Linux, Windows, and Mac, you can download and play the game from the our website. .

To get a really good overview of the game, I'd really recommend watching the following youtube video:
Aavak does a great job on hitting on the high points and giving a good introduction to the game. For those who aren't keen on videos...

[size=14pt]What is Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead?[/size]
An open-source, open-world sandbox roguelike set in a terrible future, where the dead don't stay dead, there's a new and terrible threat around every corner, and you might just end up becoming a monster yourself.

You are a survivor of the end of the world. The dead rise, and change into ever more deadly forms. You'll have to avoid or defeat them to scavenge materials from town, and make what you can't scavenge. Perhaps you'll reinforce a safe house as a base of operations and go on a mission to cleanse the city - or perhaps you'll steal a truck, load the back with supplies, and head out into the countryside. Unfortunately, the zombies aren't the only, or worst, threat this world has to offer.

Tear your truck down, and rebuild it as a death machine covered in spikes and flamethrows. Stock up on ammo, and tweak your guns for maximum performance. Build some traps surround your safe and throughout the nearby woods, both for protection and food. Consume a variety of drugs, both medical and not-so-medical, for fun and profit, just be careful not to overdose or get dependent on them. Drink gallons of mutagen, or replace your weak flesh with superior components of plastic and metal, until you're barely human. When you're ready, explore the research labs for the secrets to the terrible thing that happened to this world.


When you've finished playing the game, dive in and change it yourself - it's an open-source source game with ever expanded modding capability. Changes are added every single day, and a new version with new features is released every month.

It's a hell of a ride, and it's only getting better.


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    GlyphGryphGlyphGryph Registered User regular
    I'm one of the developers, and I claim this post in the name of future updates!

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    WyvernWyvern Registered User regular
    Why must my love of roguelikes and dislike of zombie games be in constant conflict?

    Thematic oversaturation aside, I've actually been enjoying this game a lot so far. The last time I heard of it (before the DDA branding, I think) it was dynamic-spawn only and didn't appeal to me at all, but static spawns have resulted in a world that seems like it's actually worth exploring.

    A few assorted thoughts after playing for a few days:
    Ironically, zombies are probably the least deadly thing in the game. It's pretty easy to lure them into bushes and whatnot to slow them down and beat their heads in without taking a hit. I used to be scared of the higher-tier ones, but after getting some more experience I realized that I had been overestimating them. Spitters and Shockers have huge cooldowns on their ranged attacks and can usually be killed in exchange for a few scratches, grabbers and police/soldier zombies can generally be handled the same way as regular ones (it just takes longer), shriekers only yell when they get to near melee range and the sound doesn't seem to carry that far, and boomers don't seem to do much of anything. On the off-chance something does go wrong (like you encounter one of the big ones), you can always just drop a small flammable object and light it on fire, which basically kills them instantly. The ol' strawberry grenade trick never fails. Except that one time I tried to use it on a soldier zombie and it exploded a whole bunch of times directly into my face. That time it failed. But most of the time, it never fails.

    Although now that I think of it, a lot of the ease might be due to the environment you typically find zombies in. In towns they're pretty spread out, you always spot them a few at a time from max range, you can break line of sight easily, and there are bushes and windows everywhere to use to help you out. The one time I went deep enough into a lab to wake up a large number of opponents it was a goddamn mess because stuff was pouring out of every hallway and here wasn't much help to be found in the environment. Once you're forced to actually trade blows damage adds up fast. Hopefully once Z-levels are in there will be a lot more large buildings and indoor combat.

    What really gets me most of the time is insects. Giant ants especially. They're fast, armored, and tend to attack in tight clusters of twos and threes, making them massively more dangerous than anything you'll ever find in a town. They're also kind of inscrutable. Half of the time they totally ignore you, and the other half they pursue you to the ends of the earth. I'm afraid to travel the roads without a car now, because moving back and forth through ant territory is going to turn into a death sentence eventually. Although until I updated past the 0.6 stable release and into something more recent my deaths were like 100% Jabberwocks. Those things just aren't even fair.

    I don't care for the zombie resurrection mechanic in 0.6. Generally with zombies you're either going to trivially kill them all or commit to avoiding them ahead of time. It's extraordinarily rare that you'll get halfway through a fight and then have to retreat. The result is hat the need to butcher zombies amounts to a lot of tedium without actually adding any real risk.

    This is probably a known issue, but the UI for purifying water is kind of a mess. The inventory keeps losing track of which letters belong to which type of container. I always end up hitting the button that is marked as belonging to an empty plastic bottle and then being told that I can't put water in my eyeglasses or something.

    I've been experimenting with archery on my last couple of characters after hearing people rave about it, but it feels entirely useless. Arrows and bolts just do so little damage on top of having lousy accuracy. A while ago I built a repeating crossbow and emptied three full clips at a cougar without killing it. And hitting anything with armor or a carapace is just completely out of the question. The only things I feel like I can kill with a bow are rabbits and vanilla zombies, and vanilla zombies are a total non-threat in melee anyway. I guess it's possible that there's some arrow or bolt higher in the tech tree that I don't know about.

    The combat formula is kind of opaque. I can never figure out what it's doing. The damage values on a knife spear are drastically higher than on a nail board, but I feel like I do almost the same damage with each. And then I upgrade to a broadsword which is only about seven points higher than a knife spear and it hits more than twice as hard. Except the broadsword also says it takes 115 moves per attack and I don't think I've ever once seen a swing take less than twice as long as that. What's going on with any of these weapons? Is it a resistance thing?

    Minor criticisms aside, I do like the game. It fills a niche that no other roguelike really does, as far as I know. I'm only just now getting a hang of the skill and crafting systems to a point where I can reach self-sufficience in terms of food and water (which is easier than I would have thought), so there's a lot of stuff I haven't seen yet. I might add some more observations as I keep playing.

    Switch: SW-2431-2728-9604 || 3DS: 0817-4948-1650
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    GlyphGryphGlyphGryph Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    There's definitely resistances going on - enemies have different resistances to piercing, cutting, and bashing damage, for example. Also, your skill with a weapon is a big factor in the amount of damage it does, so the better you get with a class of weapons the more valuable weapons that use finesse instead of outright power become.

    It sounds like you grabbed an experimental release in the middle of the archery rewrite - It was really overpowered before, and then it was useless because some of the changes made didn't adjust numbers that needed to be adjusted. Most weapons also have an "optimal range", and being too close or too far away is a detriment. Again, skill is important. With the most recent experimental builds, archery is definitely powerful, and a high level archer with a recurve bow and well crafted arrows is a thing to fear, but it's not the "I get a bow I win" it used to be, or the "this never does anything of value" you encountered.

    As for giant ants, the thing you have to realize about them is that their primary method of sensing things is via chemical trails. If you get a particularly heavy scent in an area, they will follow it and kill you. To deal with pursuing ants, you need to find a way to kill your scent trail - smoke works fairly well for this. Ants have difficult seeing where you are, they are just really good at following where you've been.

    Jabberwocks are also significantly less common now, but still fun.

    Fire needs to be nerfed a bit with it's effect on enemies, though, heh.

    You can also "pulp" enemies instead of butchering them, which is significantly quicker. If you have a decent heavy melee weapon it's pretty trivial - just "smash" the corpse once or twice after downing the enemy.

    GlyphGryph on
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    SorensonSorenson Registered User regular
    edited November 2014
    I know this is old as all get and it might be more worthwhile to make a new thread in G&T Central, but this just updated after about a year and the amount of new stuff and changes is crazy. I'm just gonna' dump the changelog here, spoiler'd for sheer length:
    Random characters have professions applied.
    Wearable tools.
    Martial arts techniques can trigger when wielding appropriate weapons.
    Wing mirrors for vehicles.
    Prototype hordes.
    Adjust zombie speed with mods.
    Made butcher menu's first entry match the butcher hotkey, so you can just hold down the button to butcher all.
    You can dig down stairs with proper equipment.
    Scabbards, holsters and sheathable weapons.
    At high skills you can quick draw/attack with weapons.
    Fish spawn as distinct creatures, and they're used for fishing checks.
    Quivers for arrows.
    Furniture can act as a tool.
    Corpses rot and eventually disappear.
    Armor is assigned to a layer, and armor on different layers doesn't impose layering penalties.
    Destroyed vehicle parts get ripped off the vehicle.
    Player can start at various locations.
    Special support for mapsharing installs:
    lock down debug menu
    lock players to their username
    more configurable file placement
    locks around map files
    Language switch is dynamic now.
    Guns such as revolvers no longer eject casings when fired, they're instead ejected on reload.
    Internal furnace and Battery System CBMs are toggleable so you're less likely to eat random objects by accident.
    Spending more time near traps has incremental chance of finding them, spotted traps are remembered.
    Thrown items above a trap-defined threshold will trigger traps.
    You can now peek through curtains and some doors.
    Smashing a broken window again clears out the broken glass (relatively quietly).
    Autopickup can get at anything you can reach, i.e. adjacent tiles.
    Can set exclusion zones for autopickup, so you can avoid accidentally picking up all your stuff in your base.
    Contents of books are unknown until first read (which is faster than usual).
    Can craft recipes if you have a book in range that provides it.
    Can learn recipes by practicing them.
    Roof of the vehicle you're currently in is not drawn.
    Faction hostility is back.
    Kiln operates without player being nearby.
    Radio operated items.
    Switched to seed-based weather generation.
    Options are only displayed when they are applicable to your build.
    Can perform unspeakable acts upon zombies to turn them into your packmule slave thing.
    Messages give feedback on melee misses.
    Foraging is seasonal, fruits will grow each season, but once picked are gone until the next.
    Pet menu to interact with friendly monsters.
    Starting scenarios stitch together profession, traits, and starting location.
    Picking up and dropping multiple items is now an interruptable activity.
    Activatable mutations.
    Heavily moddable gun platform.
    Fire creates invisible hot air fields, which meander around in enclosed spaces and warm them up.
    Factored windchill and humidity into body temperature calculations.
    Vehicles smash items when they (wheels) run over them.
    Refined vehicle/terrain collisions.
    Hulks and Brutes now have a very damaging fling attack.
    Jumper cables can be used to link together electrical systems of vehicles, including vehicles outside the reality bubble.
    Crafting a large batch of items can apply a discount to the crafting time required.
    Overhaul of "cut up" system:
    Cannot cut up an item if it includes a material that can't be cut up (e.g. shotgun).
    Cutting up returns items from each material that makes up the item.
    Cuting up most items should respect the total volume of the item.
    Most terrain can be smashed now, if you can hit it hard enough.
    Can turn individual vehicle engines on and off.
    Filling an item with water from e.g. a river is now an interruptable action.

    Switched to SDL 2.0.
    Made paths configurable for packaging and installation support.
    Finished pushing martial art definitions out to json.
    JSONized multi-tile building generation, leading to huger buildings.
    Tilesets can provide a per-category fallback tile to handle new monsters/items/whatever.
    Silenced all the warnings, now it's easier to keep new ones from cropping up.
    Lots of string handling infrastructure, making translated string handling easier.
    Missing tiles in tilesets can fall back to ASCII.
    Saner glyph cache handling.
    Components used to craft an item are stored in the item.
    Debug overlay for hordes.
    Improved window handling.
    Generic iuse functors unify many types of iuse functions.
    JSONized bullet pulling recipes.
    Generic support for foldable vehicles, still need support for *crafting* them.
    Encapsulation applied to map accessors.
    JSONized monster drops.
    Damaged fuel tanks leak fuel on the ground.
    Most menus use input context now, and therefore have configurable keybindings.
    Switched build to c++11.
    Items can have a list of iuse methods instead of just one.
    Drug effects can mostly be defined in JSON.
    Scripts for querying json in tools_json_tools.
    Beefed up utf-8 input handling.
    JSONized NPC definitions.
    Unified recipe requirements across constructions and crafting.
    Better error handling when initializing SDL.
    Recipes can have byproducts.
    Added a standalone map layout utility.
    Monsters are saved to the overmap instead of per-submap, clearing the way for horde support.
    Hgamelaunch start script.
    Items can spawn with variable amounts of charge.
    Monster blacklists are applied consistently to all spawn code.
    Different ammunition-bearing monsters (turrets, robots) have customized loadouts of their various ammo types.
    Obsolete mods can be marked as such, preventing debug spam if a save containing them is loaded.

    Give most starting professions decent starting equipment.
    Nether spawns near corpse spawns.
    Capped skill gain from many activities, especially crafting.
    Melee weapons can take wear and tear damage based on their primary material.
    Categorized CBMs you can get from butchering things.
    Armor values nerfed.
    Mutagen spawn rates slashed.
    Overhauled mp3 player morale bonus to make micromanagement of it suboptimal.
    Amount of damage blocked by a block technique based on strength and skill of blocker.
    Removed acid rain until it can be made into a local event.
    Nerfed speed of many zombie animals.
    Starting professions supplied with cold-weather gear to match the expected climate.
    Standing in a fire less likely to ignite clothes.
    Lying in fire (when one or more legs is at 0HP) causes MUCH more damage.

    New monster, Wraith.
    Hops, barley, and molasses as brewing ingredients.
    Yeast for fermenting brews and baking some bread foods.
    Sugar beet as a renewable source of sugar.
    Fruit wine and Brandy.
    Moonshine and home-brewed beer.
    Grappling hook.
    Many new house layouts.
    Wells and well digging.
    CQB CBM that provides martial art style.
    Warehouse building.
    Decorative terrain and furniture.
    Parasites and diseases from unsafe foods.
    Curtains for vehicle doors and windshields, privacy please!
    Foraging (in bushes, shrubs, trees).
    Towel usable for many handy things (still not at HHGttG level).
    hehe, honey.
    Wearable rx12 auto-injector.
    Motel locations.
    Slime mutants can slip through tight spaces, spawn friendly slimes.
    Some insect-like mutants can sip nectar from flowers (but at a cost...)
    Mutagen gives you wings! (butterfly wings)
    Bird mutations.
    Killed bots drop (disassemblable) broken bot items instead of corpses.
    Bear mutations.
    Bio operator zombie.
    Spider nest basements.
    Nice looking road ends and roundabouts.
    Exploding gasbag zombies.
    Pizza parlor building.
    Notes left by other survivors scattered all over.
    Brain blob directs nearby blobs to move intelligently.
    Mall location.
    Several toolbox items to streamline carrying around your crafting needfulls.
    Cotton and many cotton-based recipes and items.
    Plant mutations.
    Audit of all item prices to try and get a sensical baseline for them.
    Supercharged military turrets.
    Make Fedora activatable, m'ilady.
    Road barricades.
    Rollerblades and skates.
    Evac center and piles of NPCs and missions.
    Bandit camps.
    RC car and remote-detonated bombs, and a remote controlled lamp.
    Automated gas stations.
    E-ink tablet and laptops can display recipes and act like books.
    Can take pictures of monsters and view them on laptops or tablets.
    Fish traps.
    A "Thrilling" monster easter egg.
    Riot control bot.
    Extensive mutation chain culminating with player effectively joining the Marloss faction.
    Extensive expansion of Marloss monsters/structures.
    Various power substations, with new monsters.
    Diesel added as a vehicle fuel.
    Added craftable pontoon bridges.
    Rat mutants can burrow, Cephalopod mutants can grow a large shell, lizards can regrow limbs.
    Many new starting locations.
    Curing hides and tanning leather.
    Full coverage of tiles in Retrodays and MShock's tilesets!

    Expanded armor layering window.
    Added way to swap panes in AIM.
    Animation and duration for smoking activity.
    Action menu that displays all actions in a tree menu.
    Highlight things you can interact with when 'e'xamining.
    Many strings are properly pluralized and have support for doing so when translated as well.
    Standardized overmap building colors.
    Vehicle examine menu shows used/capacity of fuel tanks and cargo space.
    SDL builds can play music.
    Log messages colorized.
    Books colorized by category.
    Different weather types get their own animations.
    Save/load log messages.
    Fuzzy river borders.
    Scrolling text animations when things are damaged and on some effects triggering.
    Lots of menus now have sorting, categories, and search.
    Animation delay option.
    Player can write and read sign items.
    Added a menu displaying martial art style characteristics.
    Perishable and rotting items colorized.
    UPS no longer activatable, now act as passive batteries.
    Prompt to continue studying a book until all recipes learned.

    Greatly sped up construction menu.
    Overmap scrolling speed greatly improved.
    Turn number added to calendar since it's called a gajillion times.
    Switched a lot of large collections to use std::unordered_map() or std::unordered_set().
    SDL framebuffer cache.
    Extracted rain animation code from main drawing code.
    Tile lookup speedups.

    No bleeding effect if your armor absorbs all the damage.
    Make game stop treating trees, walls, etc as hallucinatory with respect to vehicle collisions.
    Prevent dragging furniture from hoovering up items.
    Option to force software rendering to work around hardware support issues.
    Players are ejected from vehicles when their seats are destroyed.
    Contents of items destroyed by interacting with them are dumped instead of being deleted.
    Restored function of area melee attacks.
    Made various battery mods play nice together.
    Prevent segfault in the unlikely case that you miss so badly that you shoot yourself.
    Don't cause blood spatters when the attack does no damage.
    Avoid crashing when loading a corrupted submap.
    Avoid resetting creature speed to 100 when a creature is saved/loaded.
    Option to disable joystick input in case you have a broken joystick.
    Always practice at least one of the melee skill types when attacking.
    Fixed off-by-one error that made 100% coverage armor 99% coverage.
    Move critical multiplier calculaton after armor absorbs damage.
    Added move cost for interacting with computers.
    Use maximum heard sound for effects (such as deafness), not the sum.
    Player graveyard works as intended, most recent player save is moved to the graveyard folder.
    Factored weight of items in furniture into cost of dragging the furniture.
    Gunmods with firing modes finally make correct sounds when fired.
    Guns spawn with ammo when mapgen calls for it.
    Fixed longstanding bug where displayed warmth would fluctuate wildly if your body temperature was optimal.
    Prevent player from taking damage when driving over an acid puddle.
    Taught zombies how to pick the right stairs.
    Fixed bug where zombies can attack at range after a knockback.
    Lots of window refresh cleanup.
    Turrets and vehicle turrets now respect friendly status when burst firing.
    Fixed a bug where monsters could see further than they should in circular distance mode (they still used square dist).

    Sorenson on
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