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Video Game / DEADLOCK

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"Son, be a colonist", is what Dad said to me
"It's a cushy life, and you'll get alien real estate for free"
So I talked to the recruiter, to see if this was so
He smiled at me... the nicest smile... and said "Kid, don't you know?"
A colonist's job is easy, a colonist's wage is high
A colonist's pension plan would make a civil servant cry
There's never any danger, there's always lots of fun
And as for job security, it's better than a nun's

[spoken:] Kid, I'd like you to meet somebody. His OFFICIAL title is
"Commander", but I'd like you to think of him as more of a Social

If I ever get back home again
If I ever get back home again
If I ever get back home again
That recruiter's gonna die.

— the Deadlock song, by Paul Kwinn. Read the rest of the lyrics here.

Gallius IV, the pearl of the galaxy! With a great climate and loads of resources, it's a shoo-in for colonization. You lead your merry band of pioneers to this pristine new world, ready to expand and enrich your nation. Unfortunately, it looks like every other race in the galaxy had the same idea, and sent their own people to stake a claim to it.

Chaos ensues.

Released in 1996, Deadlock is a turn-based strategy game with a few city building elements thrown in for good measure. The planetary map is divvied up in to different provinces (a la Risk), on which you can build colonies. The colony screen is akin to SimCity, letting you tailor each colony to support population, grow food, mine ore, raise morale, and the like. When your units meet the units of a hostile faction, combat happens. This is controlled by the computer, though you can tip the odds in your favor by researching technologies to improve your units. Troops that survive multiple battles also gain toughness points.

A fairly simple game, it stood out by virtue of the creative art design. Each of the seven races has a distinct look that can be seen in the residences and cultural centers of their colonies. Originally, the look of units was intended to reflect the race that built them, but this was scrapped in favor of generic units (though the infantry still has species-specific appearances). It also took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the setting, with the voice-acted colony advisors either showering you with praise or snark, depending on your performance.

Deadlock was followed by a sequel called Deadlock 2: Shrine Wars.

This work provides examples of:

  • All Planets Are Earthlike: When starting a game, you can set Gallius IV to be Earthlike. You can also make it icy, tropical, arid, or like Mars. These settings are purely cosmetic, however.
    • The default settings change gameplay slightly, in that an arid planet like Mars has more mineral resources but less food, while something humid like Earth is the opposite.
    • Averted in-game. The whole plot of the story is that there are very few habitable planets, and the one in the game is desired by all races.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Tolnans, such as your personal Exposition Fairy advisor, are Starfish Aliens who use their limited psychic powers to make themselves look like regular members of other species when they're interacting with them. Notably, even the usual Only Six Faces fare, commonly found in this game genre, is deliberately invoked with them — they all look like the archeologist who first discovered them.
    Manual Description: Tolnans are not humanoid — our actual appearance has been described as "three oval-shaped spheres connected by a thin orange membrane". We have a limited psionic ability that let us project different appearances to light-seeing creatures. We never become the actual organism — the image simply reflects off the surface of an eye. You can identify Tolnan projections by the blue spots that often cover us.
  • All There in the Manual: The game came packaged with a highly detailed booklet, giving an abridged history and overview of every single race, including the two present that aren't actually playable.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: the missiles. They do quite some damage and a swarm of them can cause a colony to need a ton of repairs, but they're expensive and disposable and they can't win you colonies without supporting forces. Really, they're better at saying "I've got so many resources I can waste them to annoy you" than at actually winning wars. It's far better to spend the resources to build military units instead.
  • Bee People: The Chch't qualify, being a hive-structured species in which the members resemble bipedal scorpions. They are run by queens, though there are apparently more than one. Judging by the Chch't colony advisor, they also have at least some degree of individual personality.
  • Better Off Sold: Art resources provide a small morale bonus to the city they're in, but only up to a limit. However, they're also quite valuable as a trade resource, either to other factions or to the Skirineen, which may lead you to treating them as this.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: What does an Uva Mosk look like? Imagine a shrub with two stubby arms and legs. You might describe the head as looking like an anteater's, but you could also reasonably say it looks like a turnip with a tongue.
  • Blood Sport: Some of the documentation said that the Chch't participated in these. Three of them would enter a ring and try to kill each other with their stingers. The way it was set up, sooner or later two would gang up on one (though that one could still win, if sufficiently skilled).
  • Brain Washed: The Re'lu can mentally dominate the units of other races.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Crystalline towers stand tall in the Re'lu cities. The human colonies, with their sleek, vaguely Art Deco stylings, might also qualify.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Games that end in military conquest tend to finish like this. As more and more territories are conquered from your enemies they lose the ability to make advanced units in sufficient numbers, making it harder and harder to defend what territories are left. One can derive a perverse satisfaction from conquering everything but one territory, then gathering all available military units and throw the lot of them on the territory that's left. The battle is usually over in about one second, plus one more to mop up civilian militia.
  • Cyborg: The entire Maug race. The nasty Cyth evicted the Maug from their home planet, forcing them to settle on a world that was far from ideal. As a result, the Maug began to sicken and die off, and now depend on cybernetic implants to sustain themselves.
  • Days of Future Past: Possibly the humans. The human colony advisor (as well as the humans seen in the opening cinematic) wear outfits that look like something from a futuristic Italian Renaissance.
  • Death from Above: You can build missile units that can strike colonies from afar.
  • Detonation Moon: In the backstory, the Skirineen destroyed a quarter of Earth's moon to frighten Humans out of opposing them. It backfired as the Humans instead rallied into a frenzy and retaliated against them, beginning the downfall of the Skirineen's empire.
  • Drop Ship: The opening cinematic shows some of the races using these to reach the planet's surface.
  • The Eeyore: For whatever reason, the Cyth tend to be very depressed. Maybe all the evil just gets to them. You'll almost always have a few colonists who refuse to work when you play as them. However, their morale is fixed and never changes, even under oppressive taxation. Essentially, you give up 10% of your workforce in exchange for having the remaining 90% guaranteed all the time.
  • The Greys: Or the blues, as the case may be. The blue-skinned Re'lu visited Earth in the past, and were the source of the Grey legends. Contrary to popular belief, they never probed anybody.
  • Henchmen Race: The Chch't and Tarth acted the part for the Cyth at some point in the past, though this is no longer the case.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Maug provide an interesting example of this. Utterly dependent on their cybernetics, they also get significant research bonuses — they can even skip over technologies and research those further down on the Tech Tree. However, they're a relatively weak race recovering from the depredations of the Cyth.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: The humans are described as shrewd traders and skilled diplomats, with bonuses for making peace treaties and establishing trade routes. They are also the least likely faction to make black market deals with the Skirineen (for good reasons). That said, if you piss them off too much...
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Skirineen blew up Earth's moon, thinking that the humans (who hadn't fought a real war in a long time) would be easy pickings. Instead, the humans went berserk and stormed the Skirineen Empire. In the game, human units have the Berserk ability, which gives them massive combat advantages, though it destroys the unit at the end of the battle. It also gives them a pre-ass kicking Battle Cry.
  • I Shall Taunt You: You can send race-tailored messages to others, including insults. It's possible to goad them into attack you if you insult them enough.
  • Instant-Win Condition:
    • Build the prerequisite number of city centres and all you enemies give up their claim on the planet, for some reason.
    • In the sequel, Shrine Wars, you can instead hold control of the randomly-found native temples for a set number of turns to attain victory.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: In the backstory, the Cyth-Chch't-Tarth-Maug vs. Human-Re'Lu war had been going poorly for the latter pair until they were able to convince the Maug to switch sides, partly due to continued Cyth mistreatment of them for things like forcing them off their native planet to one much less suitable to them.
  • Non-Entity General: Partly averted, in that each race gives the player a specific title.
    • Chch't: Hive Imperius.
    • Cyth: Veil Lord / Dark One.
    • Human: Commander.
    • Maug: Maug Chief / Chieftain.
    • Re'lu: Overseer.
    • Tarth: Ubergeneral.
    • Uva Mosk: Grand Hortus.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • Their faces hidden under gas masks and garbed in dark robes, the Cyth look every inch the villain. The colony advisor sometimes refers to you, the player, as Dark One (though Veil Lord is probably the official title).
    • Inverted with the Maug. Horned helmets and masked faces would normally make for an Always Chaotic Evil barbaric civilization, but instead they're a rather sociable and meek race.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Somewhat subverted by the Tarth. Though they're big and strong and love to fight, they don't seem inordinately concerned about honor.
  • Psychic Link: The Re'lu can do this, as can the Cyth (though the latter tend to use it to make peoples' heads explode).
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Every campaign mission you have to research everything again. Attempted to justify ingame stating that the treaty (Xythra Accords) that is part of the main plot requires each colony to develop its own technology.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Possibly the Cyth. The Uva Mosk may be an ecologically-themed version of this.
  • Space Pirates: The Skirineen. Once the bullyboys of the galaxy, they got on the bad side of several races (most notably humanity, who really walloped them). Unable to lay a claim to Gallius IV by nature of them being unwilling to sign the pact the rest of the other races agreed to, they lurk in orbit, selling black market goods to the various races. You can buy from them, but if you get caught the resultant scandal will lower colonist morale, especially if you're playing humans.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Seen on some of the Cyth buildings.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: If you so much as scratch someone's territory they'll automatically set you as their enemy, and their advisors will occasionally pop up and threaten you, even as you methodically squash them out of existence. Occasionally subverted after an attack, when the enemy advisors will whine and plead for you to leave them alone.
  • The Symbiote: The Re'lu are actually two races, each individual consisting of a symbiotic pair. The fragile Re are blue and skinny anthropoids. Throughout their history, they depended on the vaguely canine Lu for protection. In return, the Re use their psychic powers to broadcast soothing thoughts in the Lu's brain. Background fluff states that human animal rights groups became outraged when they found out about this symbiosis, saying that the Lu were being exploited. This soured the relationship between the two formerly allied races. It's worth point out that, thanks to their advanced technology, the Re probably don't really need the Lu any longer.