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.
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 is already absurdly large for a sewer.
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.
It's actually exactly 8 hours after the end. Nice to see an apocalypse that keeps its appointments.
An Interior Designer Is You: There's a huge construction interface for remodelling 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. This also applies to insects and other fell beasts that appear, but they don't blindly charge at you, so they're more likely to avoid it, but they're not aware that there is a fire to begin with.
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).
Awesome yet Practical: The longbow is more useful than most guns, due to the fact that it's silent, accurate, fast, and powerful. Shots can be reclaimed from corpses, and when you need to make more, resources are plentiful. At higher skill levels your character becomes a human Legolas, and every other shot you make with it will be a headshot.
.22 rifles even more so; with decent skill, a silencer, and other mods, you can have a near-silent headshotting machine with a 30 round magazine and plentiful ammo. Unfortunately, .22 will do nothing against enemies with thicker hides.
The crowbar is one of the better bashing weapons in the game, and is useful for forcing open locked doors without setting off alarms and opening up manholes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 silently pry open locked doors and manholes.
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.
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.
Giant Spider: One of the many categories of enemies. Along with centipedes, wasps, bees, slugs, ants, and mosquitoes.
Gratuitous German: What's a Ganz-Rustung you ask? Why, a siege crossbow of course. Who doesn't know that?
The description for the Flammenschwertnote a two-handed sword with a gasoline douser is entirely in German.
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.
Hollywood Silencer: You'll want to use these a lot. Fortunately they have a relatively easy crafting recipe.
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.
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.
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 infraestructures 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.
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.
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.
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 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. And then there's also the Left 4 Dead inspired zombies.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.