5 Great Post-Apoc Games (That Aren’t Fallout)

I’ve been pretty hard on Fallout lately. Calling the series’ main antagonist stupid. Calling the merchandising insulting. Then someone asked, “if not Fallout, what post-apocalyptic games would you recommend? What other game has that same level of freedom and worldbuilding?”

Well you know what? Let’s stop tearing things down and start building up! Continue reading

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Peace, Death: Apocalyptic Sales Associate

Peace Death Header

I have a soft spot for interpretations of the afterlife, especially those subverting traditional imagery of hell. So, if you’re reading this and thinking “Rad-Lands, you pinnacle of post-apocalyptic perfection, why are you talking about a game that has nothing to do with sandy deserts or radiation?” the answer is because Peace, Death is about general apocalyptic motifs, contains parodies of Mad-Max and Fallout characters, and it’s pretty fun.

Here’s the premise: You are a reaper, one of billions living in the underworld. You can’t afford food, so you start working at Apocalypse Inc. as a customer service rep. Your boss is Death. The other three horsemen of the apocalypse are always plotting against him, sometimes inviting you to help in their schemes. On the factory floor, you have the simple job of deciding if a person goes to heaven, hell, or purgatory based on their face and personal effects.

Peace Death Horsemen

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Judge Dredd vs Zombies: Cynical

Judge Dredd vs Zombies

Should gamers and games journalists take mobile games seriously? I think so. After all, the Pokémon series began on mobile and continues to enjoy its popularity by adapting to new mobile outlets. Mobile games hold a special place as being easy to pick up, fast to play, and most importantly, addictively engaging. That brings us to 2012’s Judge Dredd vs Zombies, a game which never really hits the mark on any of those three elements.

I almost feel guilty because I love Judge Dredd, (I even made a Typing of the Dead mod for Judge Dredd), but I’ve never really liked the official Judge Dredd games. Countdown to Sector 106 is OK in that it relied more on text and story than gameplay and while Dredd vs Death had a great opening, tone, and made you feel like a judge early on, its late game petered off into a generic sci-fi shooter. Meanwhile, Judge Dredd vs Zombies hardly feels like a Judge Dredd game at all. Before we get into that, let’s talk about the gameplay. Continue reading

Deconstructing Fallout 3: Tenpenny Tower

Deconstructing Fallout 3

When I first played Fallout 3 on my Xbox 360 way back in 2008, I found myself drawn to the hubs and the quests. Exploring the wasteland was fun, but ultimately I was looking for structure and a story. I’ve recently booted up Fallout 3 again, but this time on the PC. With extreme (but lore friendly) modding, I’ve found the exploration aspect far more enjoyable and the quests frankly lackluster. I want to deconstruct the quests in Fallout 3 to think about how they work in relation to an open world map and the player character’s development choices.

Let’s start with the basics. Not counting the three childhood quests, Fallout 3 has a total of 66 quests in the base game: 10 story quests, 18 side quests, 22 unmarked side quests, and 16 repeatable fetch quests. Again, I want to briefly break down each of these to see how they’ve made use of the new environment and the RPG elements.


Fallout Tenpenny Tower

You know what? “Tenpenny Tower” is a good quest. It’s well structured, it’s got some great roleplaying options to expand your character, and it has three major endings, each of which has a noticeable impact on a prominent trading hub. Unfortunately, the entire quest falls apart after it has been completed.

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Desert Law: School Bus Mounted Howitzer

Desert Law HeaderMy Steam library is filled with post-apocalyptic games. Generally, I’ll pick up (or at least wishlist) any apocalyptic game I come across. Desert Law, a real time strategy game, has been in my library for about two years. I picked it up on sale, played it for 10 minutes, and then uninstalled it. However, enough time has passed that I thought the game deserved another chance. Unfortunately, the game aged about as well as a bloated corpse in the wasteland sun.

Desert Law’s narrative makes Wasteland Angel look complex by comparison. After the apocalypse, tribes of road warriors kill each other over booze and car parts. What kind of apocalypse is this? We don’t really know. The entire world is a desert and some places are populated by angry sentient zombies napping beneath the sand.
Here’s the story: Generic wastelander Brad wants to woo a girl for mating season, but rival tribes of gangsters and pre-apocalypse military keep mucking up his plans. Brad convinces his tribe to kill everyone in their way until Jane (the love interest) notices him. Continue reading

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream: Gorrister

IHNMAIMS Header

Con-man, pacifist, business woman, Nazi, scientist. Five improbable entities stuck together in a pit of darkness. A prolonged nightmare of 109 years conducted by a sadistic self-aware supercomputer with unlimited power. This is Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Although on the surface IHNMAIMS is a straightforward story about five people trapped in an endless underground complex after a nuclear war, it has transcended into a franchise. The human characters from the short story were greatly expanded upon in the 1995 video game while the supercomputer, AM, gained some depth in a 2001 radio drama. A comic adaptation was created but never published, though a few English panels and the full Spanish version found their way onto the internet. This has become one of my favorite post-apocalyptic stories due to the development of the characters and the themes at play.

In this series, we’ll break down each of the humans: exposing their fatal flaws and then identifying what led them to redemption (and further punishment).

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream Comic gorrister

Gorrister. The first character introduced in both the text and the video game. Originally, he was a conscientious objector, a peace marcher. In the game, he was an electrician and truck driver before the machine captured him. The only similarity between the two versions of this character is the spoken wish for death. Continue reading

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream: Benny

IHNMAIMS Header

Con-man, pacifist, business woman, Nazi, scientist. Five improbable entities stuck together in a pit of darkness. A prolonged nightmare of 109 years conducted by a sadistic self-aware supercomputer with unlimited power. This is Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Although on the surface IHNMAIMS is a straightforward story about five people trapped in an endless underground complex after a nuclear war, it has transcended into a franchise. The human characters from the short story were greatly expanded upon in the 1995 video game while the supercomputer, AM, gained some depth in a 2001 radio drama. A comic adaptation was created but never published, though a few English panels and the full Spanish version found their way onto the internet. This has become one of my favorite post-apocalyptic stories due to the development of the characters and the themes at play.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down each of the humans: exposing their fatal flaws and then identifying what led them to redemption (and further punishment).

IHNMAIMS_benny_comic

We’ll start with Benny, who has always been AM’s favorite torture toy. Originally, he was a brilliant scientist. It is never explained why AM hates Benny more than the others, but for whatever reason he was reduced to a hunchback ape-like creature. His handsome features replaced by a network of fissures and radiation scars. Continue reading