Did you like Fallout 2? It was my introduction to both CRPGs and non-fantasy RPGs and I still go back and play it every once in a while. Encased is a game that owes a lot to Fallout 2 and the isometric, turn-based games of the time. While still in early access, this game is already huge and has more depth than a lot of today’s more popular RPGs.

The game starts out with you building a character. There are a lot of options here allowing you to make any kind of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic hero you can think of. One of the most important choices is the “wing” you come from. Blue represents the workers, black represents the soldiers, orange the convicts recruited for dangerous work, white represents the scientists and lastly silver represents administration and management. I went orange and I’ve already had half a dozen interactions and options related to that choice that has allowed me to acquire additional items and avoid some fights all together through intimidation.

This is the kind of stuff missing from a lot of modern RPGs where everything is voice acted and, hence, options are far slimmer. The developers choice to stick to written text for most of the game’s narrative means that I may have seven or eight options for dialogue instead of three or four. I already am planning additional playthroughs of the game using characters from different wings and I know those playthroughs are going to have a lot more variety than a Mass Effect or even the modern incarnations of the Fallout franchise.

I have been playing an orange wing thug with some skills in lock picking and hacking. The first time I got into real combat I was so over-encumbered with stolen goods that I got my ass kicked by three giant roaches. Once I finished eating about 30 pounds of stolen food, I was much more able to survive the roach onslaught and prevail. I’ve been acting like a total dick, rolling my fellow oranges for extra money and gear and offering to do jobs just to double-cross the job giver at the last minute. I am being given the opportunity to truly role-play the character I want, and that is something that has been sorely missing in a lot of modern RPGs and especially in the somewhat shallow Fallout games that came after the second.

Graphically, the game looks like the brain remembers Fallout 2 looking. It obviously looks far better than Fallout 2, using polygonal graphics and the superior tech of a modern engine, but in my mind’s eye this is what Fallout 2 looked like and the familiar colour choices and art design make this game feel a lot like the true torchbearer of the Fallout legacy. The game even has power armor that looks quite similar to that of the first two Fallout games. The same is true of the sound; the game looks and feels like modern Fallout games should.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t issues. The animations are a bit stiff when compared to other modern turn-based combat games. There is a total lack of fog of war, including being able to see enemies from across the map. Some of these will likely be fixed during early access, but something like the animations may be here to stay and that’s unfortunate.

So far, the game seems on track to get out of early access in very good shape. I would suggest it for any fan of RPGs and especially fans of the first two Fallout games. At just under $35 Canadian, this game is a steal. With the inevitable discount it will receive on full release, there is no reason not to keep on top of this game and pick it up when it comes out.

~~S. W. Jackson~~

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