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Cataclysm is an open-world post-apocalyptic Roguelike in the Zombie Apocalypse genre, although its enemy list also features killer insects, triffids, giant spiders, graboids, killer animals, turrets, entities from the Cthulhu Mythos, and probably lots of other things, just to be sure. You're an average person left alone in this hostile world, and your survival depends on your wits and what resources you can scavenge.

While bearing a few similarities to Rogue Survivor, Cataclysm stands out by leaning much more towards the simulation end of gaming than most roguelikes (indeed, most role-playing games, period). Your character's inventory is limited not only by weight, but by the storage volume their clothes provide. Instead of the usual Class and Level System, you learn different skills independently of each other, and they only improve through study and use. The sheer volume of different weapons, food, drinks, tools, clothing, armor, drugs, bionic implants, traps, and just plain clutter in this game is one of its proudest features. Monsters hunt by sound as well as sight, and a single non-silenced gunshot in an infested area can bring a zombie horde right to your location. Perhaps most importantly, the wound system in Cataclysm is very harsh. There are no exploding HP or easy healing in this game - characters can feel pain and be seriously impaired by wounds, and if you have no medicine or first aid skill, you'll probably be making a new character very soon. You can also abuse, get hooked on, and suffer the side effects of a wide variety of non-medical drugs.

Another unique feature is that the game's world map is randomly-generated as usual, but also permanent. New regions are generated as your current character explores farther from their starting point, but it's possible to re-discover regions where your previous characters explored and died.

Like many roguelikes, Cataclysm is still in active development. Its wiki (and links to downloads and the official forum) can be found here.

Tropes used in Cataclysm include:
  • Abandoned Laboratory: Along with mines, abandoned laboratories dot the land and serve as the game's dungeons. Except that they're not always abandoned.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sewers are generally 5-7 spaces in width. If the game went by d20 rules (which, for the most part it doesn't), one space would be 10 feet in width, length, and height, which is already absurdly large for a sewer.
  • Action Survivor: The player character, by default. Especially if you never acquire the rather steep medical/mechanical/electronic skills needed to install your own bionics.
  • After the End:
    • And about 20 minutes after the end, from the looks of things.
    • It's actually exactly 8 hours after the end. Nice to see an apocalypse that keeps its appointments.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Most of the enemies are zombies, so it's somewhat justified. You can funnel zombies into a window sill and they'll just climb on top of each other trying to get to you, only to take a crowbar to the face for their troubles. Throw down a molotov, and zombies will try to shamble through it, only to die after a few steps in. This also applies to insects and other fell beasts that appear, but they don't blindly charge at you, so they're more likely to avoid it, but they're not aware that there is a fire to begin with.
  • Apocalyptic Log: What you find in some of the unique locations.
  • Atomic Superpowers: Radiation and mutagenic substances can give you mutations. If you're really lucky, they might even be good.
  • Armor Is Useless: Maybe not useless, per se, but you'll have to decide whether the protection and storage space is worth the torso encumbrance.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Shotguns in general. They are incredibly loud and a single shot will draw the attention of all neighbouring zombies, silencers are off limits to them. They also have their dedicated skill and as such they are hardly useful outside emergencies due to lack of training. Most of them also suffer of Short-Range Shotgun. Ironically the most useful of them all might be the Sawed-Off Shotgun, thanks to the decreased weight and volume and its status as an emergency weapon.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The longbow is more useful than most guns, due to the fact that it's silent, accurate, fast, and powerful. Shots can be reclaimed from corpses, and when you need to make more, resources are plentiful. At higher skill levels your character becomes a human Legolas, and every other shot you make with it will be a headshot.
    • .22 rifles even more so; with decent skill, a silencer, and other mods, you can have a near-silent headshotting machine with a 30 round magazine and plentiful ammo. Unfortunately, .22 will do nothing against enemies with thicker hides.
    • The crowbar is one of the better bashing weapons in the game, and is useful for forcing open locked doors without setting off alarms and opening up manholes.
  • Badass Bookworm: Since reading books is the most efficient way to learn new skills, and a viable early game strategy is "Find a library and read the skill books until I've exhausted them", many successful characters end up evoking this trope at least a little.
  • Blob Monster: Dungeon feature. Logs left behind by scientist imply they are some sort of Grey Goo.
  • Body Horror: As in most Roguelikes, mutations exist. Some are good, some are bad, some are double edged swords. You can also modify yourself with biotics, many of which are visible. After several augments and mutations, your character will barely look human.
  • Boring but Practical: Part of learning to survive is figuring out productive uses for all the clutter objects you find.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Toilets exist in the game, but you never need to use one.
  • Crapsack World: Aside from the Zombie Apocalypse scenario, all the illegal drugs you can find laying around in the abandoned houses paint an unflattering picture of pre-apocalyptic life in this world.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Zigzagged; while you do have health points, there's a set amount of them for each body part (and losing all of them in one part equals death), but the pain mechanic reduces movement speed as the character receives damage.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Players who find (or make) their own crowbar. And for good reason, as crowbars are not only good for bashing zombies, but they can also silently pry open locked doors and manholes.
  • Death Trap: You'll find these laying around here and there, and picking up a few levels in traps skill (plus the right components) will allow you to set some of your own.
  • Disability Superpower: Certain "bad" mutations are not necessarily bad. Some of them can actually mutate further into useful ones. For example, you might become carnivore and able to eat only flesh; further mutation might allow you to eat tainted flesh (for example, zombie flesh).
  • Drunken Master: One of the advantages boosts your melee skills whenever you're intoxicated.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Labs and mines offer this, if you were in the mood for a more traditional roguelike experience.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted with pot - smoking a joint is good for morale, with only mild drawbacks. Fully enforced with all other recreational drugs, though. If you manage to get hooked on booze or cocaine, the withdrawal penalties will spank you hard.
    • If you have a safe place and enough food, is safer to use the hardest drugs for their boosts, as the easiest and most reliable way to get rid of the withdrawal syndrome is to sit it out.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Eats Babies: YOU, if you want to.
  • Everything Breaks: Both you and the monsters can break through or burn down the buildings in this game with the proper armament.
    • Your clothes get damaged as zombies whale on you. Your shoes and pretty much everything else can only be destroyed by acid. You can kill dozens of zombies with a pane of glass and it won't break.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As usual for a roguelike, Cataclysm plays this trope to the hilt.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: The various giant insects in this game are hard to hit, often poisonous, come in swarms, and have an uncanny talent for hitting you right in the eyes.
  • Everything's Worse with Wolves: Wolves are fast, hit hard, come in packs, and have a letter color that can make them hard to spot before it's too late. They're one of the worst non-zombie enemies, at least in the beginning.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Once your food runs out, you have to switch to butchering and preparing your own meat from corpses. Zombie meat is pretty much a last ditch move until you learn how to cure it, but rat, ant, and slug meat are all fair game. Currently, the game doesn't consider where the meat came from, as long as it's not from a zombie, so your character can eat cooked slug meat and enjoy it.
  • Giant Spider: One of the many categories of enemies. Along with centipedes, wasps, bees, slugs, ants, and mosquitoes.
  • Gun Accessories: A good amount of them, and currently you may have any amount of modifications on your gun, for your inner tacticool commando.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky: The Optimist advantage, which grants you a slight (but permanent) bonus to morale.
  • Hollywood Silencer: You'll want to use these a lot. Fortunately they have a relatively easy crafting recipe.
  • Homage: The main zombie types reference the Left for Dead series.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Some tough enemies if they stand in fire for long enough. For example, bears .

 Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires!

  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Not only does your character have a weight limit of loot to work with, but he is also limited by the size (volume in game) of his loot. Each piece of clothing available may have a set amount of storage space which must be managed separately from weight. Going above your weight limit will slow you down; going above your volume limit will increase your encumbrance, which usually will slow you down as well as other penalties.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Your mistakes are not the only source of human corpses in this game, and if you get desperate enough...
  • Improvised Weapon: Since using guns without a silencer can often be suicidal, it pays to learn which objects make good melee weapons. (Hint: you can smash the front door of the building you start in and get a nice two-by-four.)
  • Item Crafting: The game's item crafting system is very robust, and gaining the proper skills to make things is highly recommend if you want to extend your character's lifespan.
  • Late to the Party: The player, evidently. How exactly you ended up as one of the last people alive in the region is left to your imagination.
    • Later on he might find dead squads of soldiers and scientists, as well as military and scientific infraestructures which are invariably overrun by the undead.
  • Level Grinding: Or Book Grinding, rather.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The most easily-improvised bomb in the game, readily available to any player who has a bottle, rag, gasoline/alchohol, and a lighter.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Whacking enemies with a cutting or piercing weapon can cause it to get stuck, which in turn can cause you to drop the weapon.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's a roguelike, using a gun carelessly can get you killed, your character doesn't get more max HP as they gain experience, and healing is much slower? Yes, it's hard.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: The zombies in this game will chase you to the end of the world and maul you, but they never seem to have an appetite for their own kind.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They seem to be of the fast variety, as they move at a deceptively quick pace, and then there is the fast zombie which plays the archetype completely. And then there's also the Left 4 Dead inspired zombies.
  • Perma Death: As usual for a roguelike.
  • Pinata Enemy: Triffids, at least the rank and file ones. They're not that tough, and unlike zombies, they leave behind raw vegetable matter that any character can safely eat without needing any preparation whatsoever. Queen triffids, on the other hand...
  • Point Build System: Character creation involves a tabletop-style system where you select stats, skills, advantages, and disadvantages out of a pool of points.
  • Quicksand Box: Part of the fun resides in just trying to survive for the first days. After securing a safe house, players might stumble around the game world for (ingame) days on end until finding neat stuff like science labs or bunkers.
  • Rare Guns: A fair share of them, you may find the Saiga semi-auto shotgun, a revolver grenade launcher and the American 180 (a 60s sub machine gun that can hold up to 165 low powered rounds). You can craft an electromagnet gun that fires nails at incredible speeds. And then there is more technological stuff.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: What you can find in certain labs and mines. You know, in case all the zombies and other horrors infesting the land aren't enough for you.
  • Shock and Awe: The shocker zombie. A middle game weapon is a tazer which isn't that useful against zombies.
  • Shout-Out: To name a few, Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead, Fallout, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Deus Ex, Doom, Mad Max, Dune, RIFT, I Am Legend, The Day of the Triffids, and Tremors.
  • Socketed Equipment: One advantage to using a gun is all the nice upgrades you can give them.
  • Super Serum: The mutation-causing compound that you can find in labs or near dead scientists.
  • Survivalist Stash: What you can find in a house's basement, if you're lucky. And of course, you can make your own stash, and loot the stashes of your previously deceased characters!
  • The Many Deaths of You: Be prepared to die a lot starting off while you fumble around, deciding the best tactics to killing a horde, with what, what to carry, what to sustain yourself on, where to sleep, etc.
  • The Undead: The zombies in all their variants aren't the only type of enemy you'll face in this game, but they're the majority.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Most of the skill books you can find are decidedly not combat-related. But then there's the Spetsnaz Knife Techniques book...
    • The player will start off struggling to kill one zombie. As you level up, your character will be able to take on larger and larger hordes, and you as a player get smarter figuring out better and more efficient tactics.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can call for help to the factions in the game. Most of the time, they will send an armed NPC to help you. You can blow his head off and take his gear with little consequence.
    • Due to a programming oversight, some explosives still had trade value while lit. So yes, you could trade someone your armed C4 for their medkits and his gun and run like hell.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The map keeps expanding and generating new regions as you explore it. There is no win condition, other than simply surviving for as long as possible and/or killing as many enemies as you can.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: And he needs water badly, too.
  • World Map: A map of the local region can be accessed at any time, conveniently for players who are trying to find a specific type of building to loot.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Like most classic roguelikes, part of the fun in Cataclysm is seeing all the inventive ways that you can get killed.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Of course.
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