There are so many post-apocalypse stories set in the near and far future but not in the past. Looking back through history, there are quite a few moments to pick from where things could have escalated to an extreme level. The minds at Dark Crystal Games have decided to explore one of these levels in their Early Access title, Encased. Set in the 1970s amidst the background of the Cold War, nations around the world have been united in their curiosity over a mysterious artifact known as the Dome. Taking a one-way trip into this mysterious biome leads us to some strange people and places…
How Did It End?
A lot of post-apocalypse scenarios are brought about by warfare or some sort of calamity be it natural or supernatural. However, the mystery behind the apocalypse in Encased is one of the driving forces of the plot. On the cusp of global warfare, a large dome structure seemingly appears out of nowhere. Called the Dome, it contains a huge environment separate from the surrounding world. As a result of its appearance, a truce is called between the conflicting nations as they decide to work together to investigate the world within the Dome. Huge organizations are set up to explore especially when it’s discovered that all that goes into the Dome can never leave. Play as a new recruit sent in to learn as much about the Dome as possible while trying to survive its unforgiving environment.
When it comes to structuring, symmetry is a beautiful thing. It’s precise and exact which is not easy to achieve. Encased manages to achieve some of these magical moments. The first of these is the world. The idea that a post-apocalyptic environment is contained somewhere on Earth for all to explore is intriguing. Establishing it as a truly dangerous place that people can’t leave creates even more wonder as to what could be worth going in. This is something you’ll discover as you play and learn more about this world.
The next is the complexity of your character. Like other RPGs, you can create a custom hero with the abilities and background that best suits you. The skill list itself is quite vast and detailed in both combat and application. Each main skill branches out into a number of passive and active techniques that give you multiple options for tackling any situation. Level ups are quite generous with their skill points so you can give yourself an edge wherever you need it.
Then there’s the richness of the whole setup. Each character, both major and minor, has a distinct presence. Every time you talk to someone, it feels like it could be an important interaction. The Dome has a lot to offer in terms of exploration, combat, lore, and story.
Cracks On The Surface
Another thing you want to consider in structuring is stability. Sometimes all it takes is one crack in the foundation to bring everything down. Encased has a few cracks that seal up before they get worse. One of them is controller compatibility. The game does include the option to play with a controller but it greatly hampers the experience. It makes movement incredibly awkward while also making it difficult to interact with objects like doors. Though it would be nice to have the option, this definitely feels like a game meant for the keyboard.
The other major crack is that it’s very easy to get lost. You’ll find yourself gathering quests left and right which can be tracked but that doesn’t seem to do anything. You’re given a map that marks points of interest but not things specifically related to the tracked quest. This is positive in that it encourages exploration, but areas can be confusing, and sometimes you don’t know if you’re going the right way until after you run headlong into the plot. There are a lot of things to look at and tons of people to talk to which can eat up your time very fast.
Life Under The Dome
Encased is a tactical turn-based sci-fi RPG set in a contained apocalypse during the 1970s. It’s very rich and layered with emphasis on lore, your character, and exploration. It suffers from some control issues and clarity which can make it feel like a time sink. Despite this, if you’re hungry for adventure and ready to live your current life behind, the Dome has plenty of vacancies.
TechRaptor previewed Encased on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. It is currently in Early Access and will also be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.