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Video Game: Cataclysm
Cataclysm is an open-world post-apocalyptic roguelike in the Zombie Apocalypse genre, although its enemy list also features killer insects, triffids, giant spiders, graboids, killer animals, turrets, entities from the Cthulhu Mythos, and probably lots of other things, just to be sure. You're an average person left alone in this hostile world, and your survival depends on your wits and what resources you can scavenge.

While bearing a few similarities to Rogue Survivor, Cataclysm stands out by leaning much more towards the simulation end of gaming than most roguelikes (indeed, most role-playing games, period). Your character's inventory is limited not only by weight, but by the storage volume their clothes provide. Instead of the usual Class and Level System, you learn different skills independently of each other, and they only improve through study and use. The sheer volume of different weapons, food, drinks, tools, clothing, armor, drugs, bionic implants, traps, and just plain clutter in this game is one of its proudest features. Monsters hunt by sound as well as sight, and a single non-silenced gunshot in an infested area can bring a zombie horde right to your location. Perhaps most importantly, the wound system in Cataclysm is very harsh. There are no exploding HP or easy healing in this game - characters can feel pain and be seriously impaired by wounds, and if you have no medicine or first aid skill, you'll probably be making a new character very soon. You can also abuse, get hooked on, and suffer the side effects of a wide variety of non-medical drugs.

Another unique feature is that the game's world map is randomly-generated as usual, but also permanent. New regions are generated as your current character explores farther from their starting point, but it's possible to re-discover regions where your previous characters explored and died.

While its wiki (and links to downloads and the official forum) can still be found here, Cataclysm fell out of active development in late 2012.

However, the project is now back in active development under the title of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, using the original source code and several popular mods as a base. It can be found here.

Whales has confirmed his definitive abandonment of the original game and begun working on the sequel, Cataclysm 2, with a different focus than the original and DDA, and a different design perspective which will hopefully help with performance. Check the progress on the official Tumblr


  • Abandoned Laboratory: Along with mines, abandoned laboratories dot the land and serve as the game's dungeons. Except that they're not always abandoned.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Incendiary and full metal jacket in some calibers. With enough skill, you can craft more exotic rounds, like HE shotgun slugs and acid 40mm grenades.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sewers are generally 5-7 spaces in width. If the game went by d20 rules (which, for the most part it doesn't), one space would be 10 feet in width, length, and height, which would make it less of a sewer and more of an interstate freeway.
  • Action Survivor: The player character, by default. Especially if you never acquire the rather steep medical/mechanical/electronic skills needed to install your own bionics.
  • After the End:
    • And about 20 minutes after the end, from the looks of things.
    • It's actually exactly 8 hours after the end. Nice to see an apocalypse that keeps its appointments.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Combined with I Am A Humanitarian. Examples include Cooked Creep, Niņo Nachos, Jerk Jerky, Hobo Helper, and Soylent Slices.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: The way this is handled is very fitting - Most monsters (including zombies) can track you by smell or by sound, even in the dark. The game simulates your scent so that it spreads more if you stay on a place for too long, so zombies won't detect you immediately in the dark. They might find you by sound, but you can mislead them by throwing items away.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: There's a huge construction interface for remodeling any building you like into a somewhat secure fort, or even build your own from scratch. You can also build an array of pits, traps and furniture to decorate or entrench your home.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Most of the enemies are zombies, so it's somewhat justified. You can funnel zombies into a window sill and they'll just climb on top of each other trying to get to you, only to take a crowbar to the face for their troubles. Throw down a molotov, and zombies will try to shamble through it, only to die after a few steps in. Insects, wolves and other fell avert this, as they are scared of the fire and will flee.
    • They still seem to be unable to grasp that stepping in and out of a broken glass window hurts them and causes them to bleed out.
  • Apocalyptic Log: What you find in some of the unique locations.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Safemode, which will refuse any input except one specific key wherever a hostile monster is found. Auto-Safemode reenables it after a set number of turns without enemies on sight. This has saved the lives of a LOT of characters which otherwise would experience "death by boredom". Both can be adjusted. The game will also prompt when the player is about to step on a dangerous square such as a fire or a (known) trap.
  • Atomic Superpowers: Radiation and mutagenic substances can give you mutations. If you're really lucky, they might even be good.
  • Armor Is Useless: Maybe not useless, per se, but you'll have to decide whether the protection and storage space is worth the torso encumbrance.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Shotguns in general. They are incredibly loud and a single shot will draw the attention of all neighbouring zombies, silencers are off limits to them. They also have their dedicated skill and as such they are hardly useful outside emergencies due to lack of training. Most of them also suffer of Short Range Shotgun. Ironically the most useful of them all might be the Sawed-Off Shotgun, thanks to the decreased weight and volume and its status as an emergency weapon.
    • The coilgun is essentially the nailgun on roids. It has triple the range of the nailgun, fires easily findable nails, and it's near silent. However, it weighs a ton, requires electronics 3 to craft, and requires a powered and bulky UPS to fire. Unless you luck out and find one earlier, you are studying electronics to level 5 to craft yours. Each shot drains battery from the UPS, and dries a 100-battery charge after about 50 shots, requiring anywhere from 4 to 10 shots to kill a regular zombie. Moreover, a silenced .22 handgun fills the same purpose and its about as easy to find and keep loaded. It's also semi-automatic (the nailgun has burst fire).
  • Badass Bookworm: Since reading books is the most efficient way to learn new skills, and a viable early game strategy is "Find a library and read the skill books until I've exhausted them", many successful characters end up evoking this trope at least a little. With the version 0.A release, this applies more than ever, where many skill books have over a dozen valuable crafting recipes, many of which will give you much easier access to rare and very difficult to find items.
  • Blackout Basement: And batteries are in high demand during the apocalypse...ų
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The "Monomolecular Blade" bionic upgrade, which the classes Razor Boy and Bionic Assassin start with.
  • Blob Monster: Dungeon feature. Logs left behind by scientists imply they are some sort of Grey Goo.
  • Body Horror: As in most Roguelikes, mutations exist. Some are good, some are bad, some are double edged swords. You can also modify yourself with biotics, many of which are visible. After several augments and mutations, your character will barely look human.
    • Several of the enemy types qualify, several of which are direct rips from other series, like the Amigara Horror.
  • Boring but Practical: Part of learning to survive is figuring out productive uses for all the clutter objects you find.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Toilets exist in the game, but you never need to use one.
  • Car Fu: Anything larger than a motorcycle is good for running over enemies (and usually insta-killing them). Cars are just the beginning. Wait until you get a semi-truck. Without a suitably large vehicle, however, a zombie hulk can stop your ride dead in its tracks at low speeds. And then proceed to smash it, shortly followed by smashing you.
  • Cats Are Mean: Cougars, which are a hair better than wolves stat-wise, but luckily hunt alone.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Skills have more weight than raw stats for determining success, so any character can get good enough at a particular skill with enough grinding, with only Skill Rust there to stop you (and then there's the Memory Banks bionic, or, you know, disabling Skill Rust altogether). Throwing is probably the worst offender; at high enough levels its easy to one-shot turrets well beyond their firing range with a wooden spear.
  • Cobweb Jungle: Some parts of the forests are those. Full of Black Widows.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Now averted. Stepping near lava pits will cause your temperature to rise, depending on how close you are. Getting too close will cause your skin to blister.
  • Cool Car: Raising your mechanics skill takes you beyond plain repairing your ride and allows you to turn it into a huge steel behemoth on wheels capable of speeds in excess of 150 mph, covered from top to bottom in spikes and blades, having several pairs of automated turrets and with more storage space you could ever use. Oh, and you can strap inside a bed and a caravan style kitchen.
  • Crapsack World: Aside from the Zombie Apocalypse scenario, all the illegal drugs you can find laying around in the abandoned houses paint an unflattering picture of pre-apocalyptic life in this world.Many
  • Crazy Awesome: The many, many weapons you can unlock by reaching high enough skill levels. Among them, a quarterstaff that also doubles as a stun baton, a homemade magnetic stake launcher, and a lajatang with chainsaws for blades.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Zigzagged; while you do have health points, there's a set amount of them for each body part (and losing all of them in head or chest equals death), but the pain mechanic reduces movement speed as the character receives damage.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Players who find (or make) their own crowbar. And for good reason, as crowbars are not only good for bashing zombies, but they can also pry open locked doors, windows and manholes, making less noise than bashing them open.
  • Death Trap: You'll find these laying around here and there, and picking up a few levels in traps skill (plus the right components) will allow you to set some of your own. Characters with perception below 10 are going to have a short and miserable life however.
  • Disability Superpower: Certain "bad" mutations are not necessarily bad. Some of them can actually mutate further into useful ones. For example, you might become carnivore and able to eat only flesh; further mutation might allow you to eat tainted flesh (for example, zombie flesh).
  • Drunken Master: One of the advantages boosts your melee skills whenever you're intoxicated.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Labs and mines offer this, if you were in the mood for a more traditional roguelike experience.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted with pot - smoking a joint is good for morale, with only mild drawbacks. Fully enforced with all other recreational drugs, though. If you manage to get hooked on booze or cocaine, the withdrawal penalties will spank you hard.
    • If you have a safe place and enough food, is safer to use the hardest drugs for their boosts, as the easiest and most reliable way to get rid of the withdrawal syndrome is to sit it out.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Other than replacing nails, adhesives or soldering in many, many recipes, you can use duct tape to reinforce windows and fix ANY part of your cars: engine, fuel tanks, turrets, frames.Truly the most versatile item in the game.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Eats Babies: YOU, if you want to.
  • Elite Mook: The Necromancer Zombie and Master Zombie. The Necromancer Zombie stays back and revives any non-pulped zombie corpse in the area. The Master Zombie "promotes" any normal zombie into a much nastier type.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The few that work anyway. You might want to check the damage on that gasoline tank...
  • Everything Breaks: Both you and the monsters can break through or burn down the buildings in this game with the proper armament.
    • Your clothes get damaged as zombies whale on you. Your shoes and pretty much everything else can only be destroyed by acid. Most glass items will break if you hit a zombie with them.
    • Acid rain is very bad for your stuff. Don't leave it in the open.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As usual for a roguelike, Cataclysm plays this trope to the hilt.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: And now there are Zombears.
    • Become a bear yourself with the Ursine Mutation branch.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: The various giant insects in this game are hard to hit, often poisonous, come in swarms, and have an uncanny talent for hitting you right in the eyes.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Once your food runs out, you have to switch to butchering and preparing your own meat from corpses. Zombie meat is pretty much a last ditch move until you learn how to cure it, but rat, ant, and slug meat are all fair game. Currently, the game doesn't consider where the meat came from, as long as it's not from a zombie, so your character can eat cooked slug meat and enjoy it. Even human meat is viable as a source of food (except for babies), so long as you don't mind feeling horrible for the rest of the day.
    • A cybernetic upgrade (Internal Furnace) allows the player to consume anything that catches fire for fuel.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Avian mutation branch. You can hardly take a hit, but you can outrun anything and nothing can escape your detection.
  • Giant Spider: One of the many categories of enemies. Along with centipedes, wasps, bees, slugs, ants, and mosquitoes.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: What's a Ganz-Rustung you ask? Why, a siege crossbow of course. Who doesn't know that?
    • The description for the Flammenschwertnote  is entirely in German.
    • Likewise, the description for the Jacqueshammernote  is in French.
  • Gun Accessories: A good amount of them, and currently you may have any amount of modifications on your gun, for your inner tacticool commando.
  • Happy Go Lucky: The Optimist advantage, which grants you a slight (but permanent) bonus to morale.
  • Hell Is That Noise: "Heard a noise! Stop crafting/reading/eating? Y/N"
  • Hide Your Children: Averted. Zombie children are common, and the player takes a hit to morale for killing them.
  • Hollywood Silencer: You'll want to use these a lot. Fortunately they have a relatively easy crafting recipe.
  • Homage: The main zombie types reference the Left for Dead series.
  • Hostile Weather: Full acid rain can melt down a battle-hardened survivor in a handful of turns. Thankfully the much less lethal acid drizzle happens beforehand, which serves as a warning.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: With a mutation of the same name, excess nutrition is converted into direct healing. Of course, this mutation also comes with the heavy price tag of requiring a lot more food even under normal circumstances.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: There is a chance that your character will mutate when exposed to radiation, but is far less common than simply dying.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Some tough enemies if they stand in fire for long enough. For example, bears.
    Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires!
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Not only does your character have a weight limit of loot to work with, but he is also limited by the size (volume in game) of his loot. Each piece of clothing available may have a set amount of storage space which must be managed separately from weight. Going above your weight limit will slow you down; going above your volume limit will increase your encumbrance, which usually will slow you down as well as other penalties.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Your mistakes are not the only source of human corpses in this game, and if you get desperate enough...
  • Immune to Bullets: Anything with a thick enough skin, at least to .22 and 9mm bullets. Some monsters are hard to shoot and automatically dodge 3 out of every 4 shots.
    • Harshly averted for the player. Pray you don't encounter robots or other survivors with guns. If you do, and you don't have kevlar armor or higher, you're going to have a very bad day.
  • Improvised Weapon: Since using guns without a silencer can often be suicidal, it pays to learn which objects make good melee weapons. (Hint: smash one or two of the benches in the starting shelter, then go outside and grab a rock so you can make a nail board.)
  • Item Crafting: The game's item crafting system is very robust, and gaining the proper skills to make things is highly recommend if you want to extend your character's lifespan.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Katana is one of the best melee weapons available. If you manage to find it, even at low "cutting weapons" skill you will block most of the attacks and one-hit-kill most enemies.
    • The Nodachi takes this a step further by virtue of being the BFS of katanas, and even outclasses the diamond katana despite being easier to obtain and/or create
  • Late to the Tragedy: The player, evidently. How exactly you ended up as one of the last people alive in the region is left to your imagination. Later on you might find dead squads of soldiers and scientists, as well as military and scientific infrastructures which are invariably overrun by the undead.
  • Le Parkour: Eligible trait at character creation, cuts down the speed penalty for moving through tables, windows, etc.
  • Level Grinding: Or Book Grinding, rather.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The game is mostly fair. Your starting location and climate not necessarily so. Spawned next to a fungal bloom and a swamp? It's better to roll a new character. Acid rain until day 4? Sucks to be you.
    • A very effective early game tactic consists on setting bushes on fire and bait zombies to tumble across them, which both slows them down and heavily damages them. It's great for thinning out the horde and obtaining supplies from their corpses if you can get them before they burn out. Some zombies drop alcohol or explosives.
    • "John Doe gives you a mininuke(active)."
  • Mighty Glacier: The Ursine mutation branch. You're gigantic, slow and extremely cumbersome with a bad temper, but strong as all hell with giant claws.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The most easily-improvised bomb in the game, readily available to any player who has a bottle, rag, gasoline/alchohol, and a lighter.
  • Money Spider: Shocker Zombies. They have a nasty projectile attack that is just about guaranteed to hit you, physical contact bare-handed or with a metal weapon will cause yourself damage as well, but with a high enough survival skill, butchering them can yield some very valuable bionics.
    • Cop and Soldier zombies also consistently hold (damaged) riot gear, armor, and military-grade weapons. They're also a bitch and a half to kill at lower levels because of said armor.
    • Scientist zombies have a wide arsenal of surprises, but yield a few rare and valuable crafting components when they die. You can also butcher them to harvest their bionics.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Whacking enemies with a cutting or piercing weapon can cause it to get stuck, which in turn can cause you to drop the weapon.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's a roguelike, using a gun carelessly can get you killed, your character doesn't get more max HP as they gain experience, and healing is much slower? Yes, it's hard.
  • No OSHA Compliance: In the labs, rooms guarded by automated turrets are often randomly placed next to bedrooms. And dissectors and put in the middle of many rooms.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: The zombies in this game will chase you to the end of the world and maul you, but they never seem to have an appetite for their own kind.
    • Only NPCs tend to in fight due to the number of combinations that would create.
  • Obvious Beta: The game was initially released as a candidate for a 7-day dev contest, which doesn't help much. Even after years of development and fixes, seasoned players still back up their saves regularly.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They seem to be of the fast variety, as they move at a deceptively quick pace, and then there is the even faster zombie dog. Also, the Left 4 Dead inspired zombies.
  • Painful Transformation: When gaining mutations, your character will feel a large amount of pain and often pass out. You can eventually get to enjoy the feel of it
  • Permadeath: As usual for a roguelike.
  • Piņata Enemy: Triffids, at least the rank and file ones, make the ideal neighbours for your fort. They're not that tough, more tame than most enemies (as in, won't immediately charge at you on sight from 5 screens away), and unlike zombies, they leave behind raw vegetable matter that any character can safely eat without needing any preparation whatsoever. Queen triffids, on the other hand...
    • Certainly not for just-killed-my-first-green new characters, but at high survival skill levels, Shocker Zombies begin to yield assorted bionics when butchered.
  • Point Build System: Character creation involves a tabletop-style system where you select stats, skills, advantages, and disadvantages out of a pool of points.
  • Properly Paranoid: Smashing, butchering or burning all enemies you kill will prevent them from rising back up later, and is the only way to make a zone safer.
  • Quicksand Box: Part of the fun resides in just trying to survive for the first days. After securing a safe house, players might stumble around the game world for (ingame) days on end until finding neat stuff like science labs or bunkers.
  • Rare Guns: A fair share of them, you may find the Saiga semi-auto shotgun, a revolver grenade launcher and the American 180 (a 60s sub machine gun that can hold up to 165 low powered rounds). You can craft an electromagnet gun that fires nails at incredible speeds. And then there is more technological stuff.
  • Sand Worm: Luckily it cannot break concrete.
  • Savage Wolves: Wolves are fast, hit hard, and come in packs. They're one of the worst non-zombie enemies, at least in the beginning.
  • Scavenger World: You'd be hard pressed to find a vehicle that isn't severely rusted or beat up (let alone a working one). Many components are more easy to retrieve from broken vehicles or appliances than crafted from scrap, so in either case the player character tends to invoke this a bit.
  • Schmuck Bait: A stockpile of food in the middle of the road, just sitting there? Of course it's safe!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: What you can find in certain labs and mines. You know, in case all the zombies and other horrors infesting the land aren't enough for you.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Zombie pheromone, which turns nearby zeds friendly for a handful of turns, and causes them to attack enemies. Can buy you a lot of time and is the primary reason you raise cooking to 3.
    • Because in this game bullets know no friends, with some footwork you can get a hostile turret to shoot anything standing between you and the turret. This is as risky as it sounds, but it works.
  • Shock and Awe: The shocker zombie. A middle game weapon is a tazer which isn't that useful against zombies.
  • Shoplift and Die: Don't barge into banks or pawn shops at the earliest opportunity. An alarm will sound drawing the attention of every zombie in a two mile radius. If that didn't kill you, an eyebot will shortly appear to take your picture. If it succeeds, a copbot will follow to tase you to death.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Socketed Equipment: One advantage to using a gun is all the nice upgrades you can give them.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Houses are remarkably flammable. Gas stations and labs, strangely, even more so.
  • Subsystem Damage: Torso, Head, and left and right arms and legs. Hits to the two former may kill you (and sometimes blind you), damage to the latter will make you clumsier or slower. If any extremity is damaged below 0, its forever broken , but there are ways to heal them.
  • Suffer The Slings: They are very easy to craft, ammunition is everywhere (mash rocks). Standard pebbles are weak, but as your character becomes more skilled a greenie can be downed in as low as 3-4 shots. Then you craft metal bearings.
  • Super Serum: The mutation-causing compound that you can find in labs or near dead scientists.
    • In 0.A, mutation serums are the only way to cross mutation thresholds, which give you exclusive, special mutations.
  • Survivalist Stash: What you can find in a house's basement, if you're lucky. And of course, you can make your own stash, and loot the stashes of your previously deceased characters!
  • Swamps Are Evil:
    /vg/'s Cataclysm FAQ on swamps
  • The Many Deaths of You: Be prepared to die a lot starting off while you fumble around, deciding the best tactics to killing a horde, with what, what to carry, what to sustain yourself on, where to sleep, etc.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Dealing far more damage than the total HP of the victim will cause it to turn into a big puddle of blood instead of a corpse, which denies you of any drops.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: When trying to interact with furniture and there is an object in the way, the game will say "There is an <item> in the way!". If you attempt to close a door while standing in the frame, you get "There is a buffoon in the way!".
  • The Undead: The zombies in all their variants aren't the only type of enemy you'll face in this game, but they're the majority.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Monsters that track sound will follow the source of said sounds (usually your footsteps). Talking dolls, active radios, firecrackers; All of them make excelent decoys, although rocks can work in a pinch if you can reliably hit a window far away.
  • Throw It In: A translation mishap combined with a Family Guy gag spawned one of the most broken items in the game, barred from normal gameplay. To quote their own wiki:
    Knowledge of this device and its operation is so completely off-limits that you can expect a visit from the Forum-police any time now. But since its too late to save you now, know nothing can withstand it. You find a hard thing in the endgame, call upon its power. Just be quiet about it. The only rule for Jaqueshammer is that we don't talk about Jaqueshammer.
    • As a sign of how seriously they take the item described (or at least would like you to believe), consider the item is featured on the "Cheating" article. That article is ordered in increasing order of dirtyness. This item is placed at the very bottom, under the wiki index listing.
  • Ultimate Life Form: The Alpha mutation branch is effectively this. You require a bit more food than normal and you're less tolerant of drugs and alcohol, but you require almost no sleep, you have heightened senses, and your base stats gain a pretty nice boost.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Gameplay changes drastically the moment the player character becomes competent enough to defeat zombies one-on-one with little risk (read: either managed to get a silenced gun or became dextrous enough to avoid melee hits)
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most of the skill books you can find are decidedly not combat-related. But then there's the Spetsnaz Knife Techniques book...
    • The player will start off struggling to kill one zombie. As you level up, your character will be able to take on larger and larger hordes, and you as a player get smarter figuring out better and more efficient tactics.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can call for help to the factions in the game. Most of the time, they will send an armed NPC to help you. You can blow his head off and take his gear with little consequence.
    • Due to a programming oversight, some explosives still had trade value while lit. So yes, you could trade someone your armed C4 for their medkits and his gun and run like hell.
    • The wandering NPC's can be killed, their corpses butchered and eaten. With Internal Furnace installed, you can also eat all their clothes and set whatever is left ablaze with a lighter.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The map keeps expanding and generating new regions as you explore it. There is no win condition, other than simply surviving for as long as possible and/or killing as many enemies as you can.
  • Wiki Rule: Here. It's usually outdated but still good reference for beginners. Veterans follow the github updates to keep up with the newest content.
  • With This Herring: The default character begins with a pocket knife and the clothes on his back. Subverted, though, as you'll quickly learn the knife is one of your most useful tools.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: And he needs water badly, too.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Like most classic roguelikes, part of the fun in Cataclysm is seeing all the inventive ways that you can get killed.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Of course.
  • Zombie Infectee: "The bite wound feels pretty deep..." It can be treated with antibiotics, or with prompt treatment of the wound with disinfectant or cauterization.
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alternative title(s): Cataclysm
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