By Terris Harned (NWOrpheus)
It’s amusing to me that Jason, aka Ragachak, recently wrote about his favorite apocalypse games and the end of the world. Reason being, Indie game developer Suncrash has recently announced the release of their first video game, “Judgment: Apocalypse Survival Simulation”. The game has been on Steam as an Early Access title since April of 2016, but on May 3rd, 2018, they proudly launched the game.
At its core Judgment: Apocalypse Survival Simulation (henceforth Judgment) is a colony survival simulation, just in case the name didn’t clue you in on that. Others in the genre include games like Rimworld, Oxygen Not Included, Planetbase, Gnomoria etcetera. The list goes on. Judgment however is the first of the genre (that I know of) that presents the players with a demonic apocalypse scenario.
Like some other colony sims, you begin the game with three people. Each of these will have randomly determined skills, class, and appearance. The appearance you can alter to suit your whims, but to change the other statistics you will have to pound those dice buttons until you find the settlers that suit your needs.
After configuring your ragtag team of intrepid heroes, the game takes you through a series of cutscenes keying you in on the background story. While the setting is original to the genre, the story itself isn’t anything terribly new. All the same, we often go with what works for a reason.
Once the cutscenes complete, you find yourself beginning the combat tutorial. You control a pair of higher level examples of what a colonist COULD be, if they live that long, in order to get a feel for the mechanics. This introductory mission is pretty straight forward, and you’d almost have to try to lose. Don’t plan on your first set of colonists being as strong as these early example heroes.
Next you arrive at your starting base for the remainder of the tutorial. You’ll do basic structure building, resource gathering, crafting and such. The game gives you step by step directions for the first part of this, and keeps you moving on the right track to understand the game’s essential mechanics and flow.
Before long you’re tasked with a rescue mission. This will take your colonists away from your new base for the first time and introduce you to one of the overland encounter maps, specifically the one concerning rescuing other survivors. This mission will increase your group’s number to four, unless something has gone horribly awry.
From here, Judgment plays like most other colony survival games, with a couple distinctions. Yes, you must make sure that your people are fed and have water. You research new technologies allowing you more efficient ways to produce or conserve food and water, thus allowing larger colonies to thrive. Weapons and armor are also discovered, on the research tree, but there’s one thing Judgment has that other games I’ve played don’t: An ‘Occult Research’ branch, as well as one for ‘Rituals’.
At first, you simply research the origin of the demons, presumably consulting musty old tomes and archaic manuscripts. From there, you discover rituals that will bring rain to decrease the growing time of plants, trinkets to harm enemies or aid allies, and various other useful bits. Additionally, you discover the ability to craft items of light, dark, and nature magic that allow crafting of certain special weapons and armors. Certain classes can even specialize in the use of either rare weapons or rare armors from these categories.
The combat in Judgment might at first seem a little simplistic. Your troops fight the enemies in real time (with the option to pause to give orders). Your colonists sometimes have special abilities they can use to alter the outcome of a fight, such as the ability to vanish, heal allies, or increase their own damage. In truth though, it becomes considerably more strategic, especially as the game progresses.
You, or your enemies, gain advantage from performing flanking maneuvers or taking cover. Melee soldiers get a damage bonus versus ranged attackers, and ranged attackers do less damage while in melee. To make matters worse, the farther into the game you get, the more powerful the demonic forces become. They also become much more numerous. If you want your colonists to truly survive the apocalypse that they find themselves in, and discover a way to thwart them, you’ll have to use your wits.
Back at base, your wits are equally important as the number of your own settlers increase. Each survivor has strengths and weaknesses and you must find a good balance within your team in order to sustain the colony. You can drag and drop the various tasks to prioritize their importance for each colonist, with the leftmost icon being what they will focus on first. This allows you general control of the crew, though most of their actions are autonomous. You can micromanage if you wish and assign your settlers to complete a certain task, before going back to their prescripted task order.
As a flagship game for Suncrash, the graphics and music for Judgment were on the upper end of the “okay” department. People look like people, cars look like cars, trees look like trees. It’s an Indie game, and carries the look and feel of an Indie game. For a seminal game from a fledgling company, though, it’s a very fine offering.
The game is $19.99 on Steam, and has a high replay value if you enjoy games of the colony survival genre. I have several of these types of games in my library, and found myself enjoying Judgment quite a bit, both for its original setting within the genre, as well as its mixture of approachability and challenge. While there’s no single part of the game that stands out above others, in the genre or in general, it’s definitely one of those instances where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Final Rating: Good (3.5/5)