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Encased Early Access Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 14 - 2019

There’s a dome in the desert, but things get far more mysterious than that.

 
After a successful KickStarter campaign, Dark Crystal Games’ Encased is live on Early Access. While there is a long way to go in the development of Encased and there are a lot of features missing at this time, isometric RPG fans should sit up and take notice of what could potentially be a real star of the genre.

 


 
Starting in an alternative 1970s, the story in Encased really manages to pull the player in. Essentially it involves a dome of unknown origin that has been found in the desert, and the research going on inside the dome. As part of the Early Access build, players are able to play through a prologue mission that will set things up nicely, and mysteriously. I am not going to spoil any of that, but needless to say it gets very weird and interesting.

 
As already mentioned, there are a lot of features missing from the Early Access version at the moment, but it is easy to get an idea of the scope of the game. Players create a character for this post-apocalyptic RPG with a nice selection of creation options. The most interesting is the choosing of a Wing, the games version of a class I guess. Everything in the game seems to have a purpose, which is great, and choosing a Wing will dictate much in the game. The Wings represent different places in this society, with the white Wings being the scientists, the blacks are the military, while silvers represent the administrators. The blues are the techs and the oranges fill all of the less skilled roles. It is all quite well defined and the player will find their choice in Wing will have an effect on relationships with other characters and bring up new dialogue choices down the line. It may even give access to new missions.

 


 
The player can also set up their stats, with values being assigned for the likes of strength and deftness. Again, each of these will have a bearing in the game other than just a number. For example, a player will need a certain amount of strength to use some weapons, while perception may be needed to find secrets, and brains will dictate how many skill points the player will get when they level up. As it stands right now, there is not much by way of explanation regarding the systems in the game, and so players will have to work things out for themselves and maybe experiment a bit. It is a case of realising there is a reason for something and then working back to find out what that reason is.

 
When it comes to skills and abilities, again it takes a little working out. There are a large number of different skills, and each have their own associated abilities that the player can learn, if they have enough points invested. Players get a number of points to invest in their skills each time they level up, and every ten points they invest will give them a different point that can be used to unlock an ability within that skill. Or at least that is how I understand it. Like I said, not a lot of explanation. Hopefully a tutorial of some sort will become available before the game officially launches.

 
Anyway, a players level in a skill will dictate how successfully they can use that skill. For example, picking locks may need a higher skill than the player has, but that skill can be boosted by using certain items, such as a lock pick. The same can be said for the players stats. These are pretty much locked in place once the player starts, but can again be boosted with certain equipment or even medication. While this may limit what the player can actually do in the game, there are always options.

 


 
After spending some time facing off against mutant rabbits, irradiated cockroaches and some kind of zombie, I can safely say that the combat is currently tricky. Much of this will come down to the build the player is using and how much they have prepared. The combat is turn-based and works incredibly well. With a set number of action points, the player can choose from their applicable abilities from the bottom of the screen, move around the battlefield, or rummage in their inventory for an action point cost. I found ranged weapons quite difficult to come by, and ammo was always in short supply, but a good shovel to the head worked just as well in most cases. Due to the difficulty, the combat is very tactical and players will have to plan their moves carefully in order to survive.

 
At least, that is where the game is at the moment. As the developers balance the systems, unlock currently locked abilities and generally add more to the game, all of this could change. Right now, there are bugs in the game, things like crafting need to be built upon, and a lot more side missions need to be added, along with the continuation of the main story post Nashville. Once the prologue mission is complete, which does take a little while, there is not much else to do at this time. The open world becomes available to explore, and players will come across random encounters and the like, but it doesn’t have much depth at the moment.

 
Encased is in Early Access and is certainly short on content at this time. So why bother picking the game up now? What happens if one of the updates means I have to start again. Well, most importantly the developers have said that character resets shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, with all of those different Wings to try out, starting again wouldn’t be too much of a hardship at this point. The prologue and subsequent exploration is unlikely to get into double figure hours. But the developers are constantly updating things and this game really does look like it is going to grow into something special.

 


 
Encased has great potential and is off to a good start. Fans of the old Fallout games, or post-apocalyptic, isometric RPGs in general should definitely keep an eye on this game. Encased is available in Early Access on Steam and GoG, priced at £23.79. Go and take a look.

 

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