''Cataclysm'' is an open-world post-apocalyptic {{roguelike}} in the ZombieApocalypse genre, although its enemy list also features [[EverythingsWorseWithBees killer insects]], [[Literature/TheDayOfTheTriffids triffids]], [[GiantSpider giant spiders]], graboids, killer animals, turrets, entities from the CthulhuMythos, and [[SciFiKitchenSink 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 ''VideoGame/RogueSurvivor'', ''Cataclysm'' stands out by leaning much more towards the [[SimulationGames 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 ClassAndLevelSystem, 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 [[HitPoints 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 [[DrugsAreBad 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 [[http://whalesdev.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page 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 [[http://en.cataclysmdda.com 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 [[http://whalesdev.tumblr.com/ Tumblr]]
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!!Examples:
* AbandonedHospital / AbandonedHospitalAwakening: Available as a starting scenario. [[spoiler:Considering it's not entirely abandoned, you'd better be fast on your feet or else it's going to be a really short game.]]
* AbandonedLaboratory: Along with mines, abandoned laboratories dot the land and serve as the game's dungeons. [[spoiler: Except that they're not always abandoned.]]
* AbnormalAmmo: 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.
* AbsurdlySpaciousSewer: 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.
* ActionSurvivor: The player character, by default. Especially if you never acquire the rather steep medical/mechanical/electronic skills needed to install your own bionics.
* AfterTheEnd:
** And about [[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture 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.
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: Combined with IAmAHumanitarian. Examples include Cooked Creep, Niņo Nachos, Jerk Jerky, Hobo Helper, and Soylent Slices.
* TheAllSeeingAI: 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 [[ThrowingTheDistraction throwing items away.]]
* AnInteriorDesignerIsYou: 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.
* ArtificialStupidity: 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.
* ApocalypticLog: What you find in some of the unique locations.
* AntiFrustrationFeatures: ''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 "[[http://nethack.wikia.com/wiki/Death_by_boredom 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.
* AtomicSuperpowers: Radiation and mutagenic substances can give you mutations. If you're really lucky, they might even be good.
* ArmorIsUseless: Maybe not ''useless'', per se, but you'll have to decide whether the protection and storage space is worth the torso encumbrance.
* AwesomeButImpractical: 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 ShortRangeShotgun. Ironically the most useful of them all might be the SawedOffShotgun, thanks to the decreased weight and volume and its status as an emergency weapon.
** The [[MagneticWeapons 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).
* BadassBookworm: 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.
* BareFistedMonk: There are many martial arts styles, each with its own pros and cons. They sinergize well with "natural weapons", such as claws from mutations or retractable blades.
* BearsAreBadNews: And [[NonHumanUndead zombie bears]] are even worse news.
* BlackEyesOfEvil: The zombies are stated as having jet-black eyes with a look of UnstoppableRage.
** RedEyesTakeWarning: The [[{{Enemy Summoner}} Zombie Necromancer]] has glowing red eyes.
* BlackoutBasement: And batteries are in high demand during the apocalypse.
* BladeBelowTheShoulder: The "Monomolecular Blade" bionic upgrade, which the classes Razor Boy and Bionic Assassin start with.
* BlobMonster: Dungeon feature. [[spoiler:Logs left behind by scientists imply they are some sort of GreyGoo.]]
* BodyHorror: 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 are quite grisly in their descriptions, especially once-human enemies such as the [[{{AndIMustScream}} Broken Cyborg]].
* BoringButPractical: Part of learning to survive is figuring out productive uses for all the clutter objects you find.
* BottomlessBladder: Toilets exist in the game, but you never need to use one.
* CarFu: 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. [[spoiler: 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''.]]
* CatsAreMean: Cougars, which are a hair better than wolves stat-wise, but luckily hunt alone. [[spoiler: Some of them have also joined the ranks of the undead.]]
* CharlesAtlasSuperpower: 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, [[GodModders 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 [[RockBeatsLaser with a wooden spear]].
* CobwebJungle: Some parts of the forests are those. Full of [[DemonicSpiders Black Widows]].
* ConvectionSchmonvection: 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.
* CoolCar: Raising your mechanics skill takes you beyond plain repairing your ride and allows you to turn it into [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier a huge steel behemoth on wheels]] [[MultiTrackDrifting capable of speeds in excess of 150 mph]], covered from top to bottom in [[SpikesOfDoom spikes and blades]], having several pairs of [[MoreDakka automated turrets]] and with [[BiggerOnTheInside more storage space]] you could ever use. [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Oh, and]] you can strap inside a bed and a caravan style kitchen.
* CoolClearWater: Averted. Boil it or enjoy puking. That goes double for toilet water.
* CrapsackWorld: Aside from the ZombieApocalypse 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.
* CriticalExistenceFailure: 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.
* CrowbarCombatant: 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.
* DeadlyLunge: A few zombies (and animals) can pull this on the player, though a harmless "leap" ability to close the distance is far more common. The experimental builds add feral predators, an upgrade to the [[Left4Dead feral hunter]] with a very nasty version that can knock the target over and inflict blood loss.
* DeathTrap: 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.
* DisabilitySuperpower: 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).
* DrunkenMaster: One of the advantages boosts your melee skills whenever you're intoxicated.
* DungeonCrawling: Labs and mines offer this, if you were in the mood for a more traditional roguelike experience.
* DrugsAreBad: 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 [[BoringButPractical sit it out]].
* DuctTapeForEverything: 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.
* EatsBabies: [[spoiler:YOU, if you want to.]]
* EliteMook: 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.
* ExoticWeaponSupremacy: Several of the more unusual weapons can be quite effective. However, most of them are AwesomeButImpractical if you lack a martial arts style that works with them, and the weapon skills to use them effectively.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: The few that work anyway. You might want to check the damage on that gasoline tank...
* EverythingBreaks: 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 wail 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. You can find items on zombies that are invariably in tatters.
** Acid rain is very bad for your stuff. Don't leave it in the open.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: As usual for a roguelike, ''Cataclysm'' plays this trope to the hilt.
* EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs: The game comes with an optional module to include several types of StockDinosaurs as enemies in your Cataclysm world.*
-->"Look at those TEETH!"
* EverythingsWorseWithBears: And now [[spoiler:there are Zombears.]]
** Become a bear yourself with the Ursine Mutation branch.
* EverythingsWorseWithBees: 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.
* {{Expy}}: Several monsters are ripped from other media, the more uncommon zombies reference ''LeftForDead'', and the way [[spoiler:zombie animals]] are presented recalls the T-Virus.
* ExtremeOmnivore: 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 [[spoiler:(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.
* EyeScream: Be careful around that AutoDoc or else you might get a syringe of stem cell treatment straight to the eye. Enemies will also sometimes attack your eyes, which has a chance of blinding you temporarily.
* FragileSpeedster: The Avian mutation branch. You can hardly take a hit, but you can outrun anything and nothing can escape your detection.
* FantasyKitchenSink
* FromBadToWorse: Having 99% of the population zombified or dead by the time the game starts isn't good, but what you find happening to the world as you advance through the game doesn't paint a pretty picture of the biosphere's fate.
* GameMod: In addition to community mods, the game has a format for enabling mods when generating a world, and comes with several popular mods already ready to use, especially in the experimental builds. These range from new monsters ([[VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys Animatronic Monsters]], [[EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs DinoMod]]) to vehicle additions ([[CoolBoat Boats]], [[CoolCar Vehicle Additions Pack]]) and item additions ([[PublicDomainArtifact Mythological Replicas]], [[MacGyvering More Survival Tools]]), in addition to various mods that remove certain content or change other things.
* [[spoiler:GenreShift]]: [[spoiler:Starts as your standard [[{{ZombieApocalypse}} zombie apocalypse]] but takes a gradual turn into [[{{CosmicHorrorStory}} cosmic horror]].]]
* GiantSpider: One of the many categories of enemies. Along with centipedes, wasps, bees, slugs, ants, and mosquitoes.
* GratuitousForeignLanguage: What's a Ganz-Rustung you ask? Why, a siege crossbow of course. Who doesn't know that?
** The description for the Flammenschwert[[note]]a two-handed sword with a gasoline douser[[/note]] is entirely in German.
** Likewise, the description for the Jacqueshammer[[note]]a jackhammer based on a Family Guy cutaway gag[[/note]] is in French.
* GunAccessories: A good amount of them, and currently you may have any amount of modifications on your gun, for your inner tacticool commando.
* HellIsThatNoise: "Heard a noise! Stop crafting/reading/eating? Y/N"
** [[spoiler:"The eye you're carrying lets out a tortured scream! You hear screeches from the rock above and around you!"]]
* HideYourChildren: Averted. Zombie children are common, and the player takes a hit to morale for killing them.
* HollywoodHealing: Mostly averted, with the notable exception of the Fast Healer trait. Stepped on a landmine? Face half-ripped off? No problem! Just take a nap and you'll be back at full health when you wake up.
* HollywoodSilencer: You'll want to use these a lot. Fortunately they have a relatively easy crafting recipe.
* {{Homage}}: The main zombie types reference the ''LeftForDead'' series.
* HostileWeather: 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. Acid rain has been mercifully disabled in the latest releases, however.
* HybridMonster: Jabberwocks, [[{{WakeUpCallBoss}} wake-up call bosses]] that move faster than you, can attract more enemies with their roars, and can knock you down. Fortunately, they're hostile to any other monsters, including other jabberwocks. Unfortunately for you, you'll usually encounter them in sparsely populated environments. Lucky you.
** You can also become a hybrid monster yourself with the Chimera mutation.
* HyperactiveMetabolism: 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.
* IAmLegion: We are the [[MushroomMan Mycus]]. [[spoiler:And we can be joined.]]
* ILoveNuclearPower: There is a chance that your character will mutate when exposed to radiation, but is far less common than simply dying.
* IncendiaryExponent: Some tough enemies if they stand in fire for long enough. For example, {{bears|AreBadNews}}.
-->''[[ShoutOut Remember]], only YOU can prevent [[DeathByIrony forest fires]]!''
** The player can also modify several weapons into their fiery counterparts, such as the [[{{BFS}} Flammenschwert]] and [[{{KatanasAreJustBetter}} Rising Sun]].
* InventoryManagementPuzzle: 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.
* ImAHumanitarian: Your mistakes are not the only source of human corpses in this game, and if you get desperate enough...
* ImmuneToBullets: 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.
* ImprovisedWeapon: 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.)
* ItemCrafting: 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.
* KatanasAreJustBetter: 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
* LateToTheTragedy: 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.
* LeParkour: Eligible trait at character creation, cuts down the speed penalty for moving through tables, windows, etc.
* LevelGrinding: Or ''Book'' Grinding, rather.
* LovecraftLite: Grim as the fate of humanity may seem, a well-equipped, competent character can still face the worst the game has to offer and potentially come out on top. In addition, The Netherworld monsters providing outright Lovecraft references are one of the least insidious monster factions. They don't [[TheCorruption subvert the land itself]] or bring the alien equivalent of GaiasVengeance. They don't subvert and re-animate mundane wildlife. They're also regarded as different from the [[DugTooDeep Unearthed Horrors]] that tend to reference other media. They're simply a disparate group of otherworldly creatures, with varying degrees of apparent intelligence and malevolence, with only some of them having outright anomalous abilities.
* LuckBasedMission: 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. [[spoiler:Some zombies drop alcohol or explosives]].
** "John Doe gives you a mininuke(active)."
* MightyGlacier: The Ursine mutation branch. You're gigantic, slow and extremely cumbersome with a bad temper, but strong as all hell with giant claws.
* MolotovCocktail: The most easily-improvised bomb in the game, readily available to any player who has a bottle, rag, gasoline/alchohol, and a lighter.
* MoneySpider: 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.
** Technician zombies are a significantly easier source of bionics, lacking any special attacks. Their drops are more basic, but often include a disproportionate bounty of power storage bionics.
* MooksAteMyEquipment: Whacking enemies with a cutting or piercing weapon can cause it to get stuck, which in turn can cause you to drop the weapon.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Happens to your character if you kill a survivor in cold blood, kill a zombie child, or eat human flesh. [[spoiler:Unless you're a psychopath.]]
* NintendoHard: It's a roguelike, using a gun carelessly can get you killed, your character doesn't get more [[HitPoints max HP]] as they gain experience, ''and'' healing is much slower? Yes, it's hard.
* NoOSHACompliance: 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.
* NothingIsScarier: After you've survived long enough, you can go long stretches without seeing any enemies. But if you have dynamic spawn or Hordes active, you know they're still out there...
* NoZombieCannibals: 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.
* ObviousBeta: 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.
* OurElvesAreBetter: One of the mutation paths.
-->"You are the tree under which humankind will shelter during these dark times."
* OurZombiesAreDifferent: 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 VideoGame/Left4Dead inspired zombies.
* PainfulTransformation: When gaining mutations, your character will feel a large amount of pain and often pass out. [[PhlebotinumDependence You can eventually get to enjoy the feel of it]]
* {{Permadeath}}: As usual for a roguelike.
* PinataEnemy: 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. [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking Queen triffids, on the other hand...]]
** Certainly not for just-killed-my-first-green new characters, but [[spoiler:at high survival skill levels, Shocker Zombies begin to yield assorted bionics when butchered]].
* PointBuildSystem: Character creation involves a [[TabletopGames tabletop-style]] system where you select stats, skills, advantages, and disadvantages out of a pool of points.
* PostApocalypticDog: By giving a stray dog food, you can make a cataclysm friend. Or two. Or five.
* ProperlyParanoid: 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.
* {{Pyromaniac}}: Subverted and played straight. It's subverted in that there are NPC arsonists that will torch buildings (such as that sweet gun store you were casing), but in-game dialogue reveals that they do it to salvage the rebar for the fledgling post-apocalyptic economy. Played straight in that nothing is stopping you from lighting the entire game world on fire, and is a worthwhile tactic when confronted by superior enemies.
* QuicksandBox: 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 [[spoiler: until finding neat stuff like science labs or bunkers.]]
* RaisingTheSteaks: Most notably, [[BossInMookClothing Zoose]] and [[BearsAreBadNews Zombears]], though essentially anything (formerly) living thing from the size of dogs on up can be infected.
* RareGuns: 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 [[MoreDakka 165 low powered rounds]]). You can craft an electromagnet gun that fires nails at incredible speeds. And then there is more technological stuff.
* RevivingEnemy: Zombies in general. Butcher the corpse, smash it, or simply [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill kill it so hard there's no corpse left]]. As of 0.C you can also render a zombie corpse harmless with a cutting tool, presumably by removing its jaw and limbs. [[spoiler: You won't find out if the attempt was successful until after it gets back up.]]
* RobbingTheDead: Of course. Most of your early-game (and mid-game, and late-game...) strategy will be taking everything from nearby houses and their (un)dead occupants.
* SandWorm: Luckily it cannot break concrete.
* SavageWolves: Wolves are fast, hit hard, and come in packs. They're one of the worst non-zombie enemies, at least in the beginning. [[spoiler: It gets worse when you encounter their zombified friends.]]
* ScavengerWorld: 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.
* SchmuckBait: A stockpile of food in the middle of the road, just sitting there? Of course it's safe!
* SealedEvilInACan: What you can find in certain labs and mines. You know, in case [[TemptingFate all the zombies and other horrors infesting the land aren't enough for you]].
* SetAMookToKillAMook: 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.
* ShockAndAwe: The shocker zombie. A middle game weapon is a tazer which isn't that useful against zombies.
* ShopliftAndDie: Don't barge into banks or pawn shops at the earliest opportunity. [[spoiler: 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.]]
* ShotgunsAreJustBetter: Powerful, but also among the [[AwesomeButImpractical noisiest]] weapons. Still usable in a pinch if you run like hell afterward, or if you intend to clear out every hostile in the area.
* ShoutOut:
** Several zombie types are based on VideoGame/Left4Dead: grabbers, boomers, smokers, brutes, and hulks (tanks).
** The ethanol burner, which allows you to fuel your bionics with booze, references ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}''.
** One Defense mode variant, which has you defending a bar from zeds, is based on and named after ''Film/ShaunOfTheDead''.
** The description of the towel recites: [[Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy any person who can hitch the length and breadth of the apocalypse, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a force to be reckoned with.]].
** While exploring, one can stumble on a [[Literature/TheDayOfTheTriffids Triffid grove]].
** [[spoiler:In some labs, you have the option to trigger a [[VideoGame/HalfLife Resonance Cascade]].]]
** There are also various shout outs to VideoGame/HalfLife2, VideoGame/{{Fallout}}, Film/DawnOfTheDead1978, VideoGame/DeusEx, VideoGame/{{Doom}}, Film/MadMax, Franchise/{{Dune}}, VideoGame/{{RIFT}}, Literature/IAmLegend, and Film/{{Tremors}}.
** "A large steel pickaxe, [[VideoGame/DwarfFortress strike the earth!]]". Vertical planes, while simply "levels" in game, are often called "Z-levels" in the official forums. Crafting (specially drug and weapons crafting) is sometimes referred to as [[StuffBlowingUp !!SCIENCE!!]]. And Urist is an eligible name for random [=NPC=]s.
** A cookbook for survivors looking to emulate the zombies is called "[[Recap/TheTwilightZoneS3E89ToServeMan To Serve Man]]".
* ShownTheirWork: Temperature affects the player's body parts individually and uniquely (a head that gets too hot results in a pounding headache, for example). When the player's torso gets too cold, the game will advise them that maybe they should remove some layers. This may not make sense until one realizes, it is characteristic of severe hypothermia for people to remove their clothes, speeding up heat loss.
* SocketedEquipment: One advantage to using a gun is all the nice upgrades you can give them.
* StuffBlowingUp: Houses are remarkably flammable. Gas stations [[spoiler:and labs, strangely,]] even more so.
* SubsystemDamage: Torso, Head, and left and right arms and legs. Hits to the two former may kill you (and sometimes [[EyeScream blind you]]), damage to the latter will make you clumsier or slower. If any extremity is damaged below 0, its forever broken [[spoiler:, but there are ways to heal them]].
* SufferTheSlings: 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.
* SuperSerum: 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.
* SurvivalistStash: 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!
* SwampsAreEvil:
-->''"Swamp - AVOID THESE. IT IS AN INSECT INFESTED HELL WITH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF VALUE"''
---> '''[[ImageBoards /vg/]]'s''' Cataclysm FAQ on swamps
** They are however a great source of salt water for cooking. Just watch out for the [[GoddamnBats giant dragonflies]]. If you have the Dinosaurs mod on, dinos can spawn in swamps in addition to wildlife field offices.
* TheManyDeathsOfYou: 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.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: Dealing far more damage than the total HP of the victim will cause it to turn into a [[LudicrousGibs big puddle of blood]] instead of a corpse, which [[DisadvantageousDisintegration denies you of any drops]]. Against [[RevivingEnemy zombies]], this is a viable alternative to smashing or butchering the corpse.
* TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything: When trying to interact with furniture and there is an object in the way, the game will say "There is an in the way!". If you attempt to close a door while standing in the frame, you get "There is a buffoon in the way!".
** Similarly, if you attempt to pry the square you are standing in with a crowbar, it results in the message "You attempt to pry open your wallet, but alas. You are too miserly."
** ''Everything'', no matter how inconsequential, can be used for something. Take the deputy badge, for example. [[spoiler: If you're wearing one and there's an eyebot in the area, it will recognise you as a police officer and will not summon a police/riot control robot.]]
* TheUndead: The zombies in all their variants aren't the ''only'' type of enemy you'll face in this game, but they're the majority.
* ThrowingTheDistraction: 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.
* UltimateLifeForm: 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.
* UnstableEquilibrium: 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)
* TookALevelInBadass: 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.
* VideoGameCrueltyPotential: 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.
* WideOpenSandbox: 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.
* WikiRule: [[http://www.wiki.cataclysmdda.com Here]]. It's usually outdated but still good reference for beginners. Veterans follow the github updates to keep up with the newest content.
* WithThisHerring: The default character begins with a pocket knife and the clothes on his back. [[spoiler: Subverted, though, as you'll quickly learn the knife is one of your most useful tools]].
* WizardNeedsFoodBadly: And he needs water badly, too.
* YetAnotherStupidDeath: Like most classic roguelikes, part of the fun in ''Cataclysm'' is seeing all the inventive ways that you can get killed.
* ZombieApocalypse: Of course.
* ZombieInfectee: "The bite wound feels pretty deep..." [[spoiler:Averted, it's just a normal infection, the virus takes over after you die. It can be treated with antibiotics, or with prompt treatment of the wound with disinfectant or cauterization]].
* ZombiePukeAttack: In both blinding yet harmless and damaging acidic varieties, both referencing ''Left4Dead''. The experimental builds also add variants of both monsters. Huge boomers add a long-lasting glowing effect that make it harder to sneak away from the horde, acidic zombies are closer-ranged (and FAR less annoying) than spitters, while corrosive zombies trade AreaOfEffect ability for range and [[SpamAttack rate of fire]].