Encased (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 16.12.2019 3

Review for Encased on PC

Claiming that your upcoming creation will pay homage to one of the most revered titles in the genre is a bold statement. Encased "dares" to declare that it wants to be the next Fallout. On one hand, it's great that the people who work in this ambitious CRPG have the luxury of not being Interplay employees. Solely driven by its love towards Tim Cain's baby, and without any real pressure other than the tightness of the available budget, it's fair to say that Dark Crystal Games will probably do a better job from a purely programming point of view. Here's the thing, though: Fallout was, technically and gameplay-wise, deeply flawed, but it was also an excellent RPG, with an unmatched quality in writing and atmosphere, despite its rushed production - and it looks like Encase simply isn't there yet, as will be shown in Cubed3's hands-on preview of this very Early Access version.

Encased is post-apocalyptic... ish. The world you'll explore isn't a dead, or on the verge of dying. The hero or heroine that will be crafted will do all the necessary adventuring inside a dome; basically a gargantuan, self-contained, closed ecological system that can't be exited once inside. Why do people enter it in the first place then? Because promising tech has been found inside it; tech that will supposedly help humankind. Of course, things aren't so simple. Apart from the hostility of this barren land, the protagonist will realise that, once again, his biggest enemy is humanity itself, with the few different factions at hand having their own dark motives.

While it tells a different tale, Dark Crystal Games is clearly influenced by Fallout. It approaches its storytelling similarly; gameplay revolves around role-playing with a uniquely build character; and, finally, battles are turn-based affairs. Although the developer's intentions are noble, its WIP baby misses a few marks - and upon starting your journey, you are bound to find out what that the first one is the writing. Bad? Far from it, but, Fallout, as well as some modern-yet-retro CRPGs like Pillars of Eternity have sort of spoiled genre fans, and it's hard to accept something that's just, well, decent.

That's not just a minor flaw. This isn't Diablo III. Video games like these need great writing if they are to succeed, and 'decent' simply won't do. Okay, so you can choose a social class that you can belong to, but the differences in dialogue aren't that strong, and while the world is generally a dangerous place, its darkness is rarely felt, as this simply lacks character. Maybe it's the fan speaking in yours truly, but this isn't at all like Fallout; it's a very inferior, watered-down version of it. A shame, really, as this microcosm has tons of carefully written lore.

Screenshot for Encased on PC

Are things better gameplay-wise? Sadly, no. Ironically, this is the part were Encased feels exactly like the awesome, but also highly flawed (from a technical perspective) Fallout. In other words, this is one more Early Access title that came a bit too early. Incomplete areas that can be entered; an UI that's a bit of a mess; a character creation screen that needs lots of work; a large assortment of the available skills are unavailable; and, most of all, a terrible, terrible balance everywhere you look, especially when fighting, with melee being vastly more powerful than guns.

The biggest flaw, though, at least for now, is how restricting this is. Love it or hate it, one can't argue that Fallout was one of the most open-ended sandboxes ever made, and this pales in comparison, as it's a bit more linear than it should. Character builds are a perfect example of that, as it's currently not possible to create any unique builds and enjoy playing with them, whether that's a glass cannon/sniper, a charismatic weakling, or a stealth/thief character. Long story short: trying to be the next Fallout needs a lot of work, and Encased isn't even half-way there...

Small update. The one who wrote this has a soft spot for such games, so he waited for a patch before finishing the preview. After a month or two, the patch did arrive, smoothing out plenty of rough edges, adding more dialogue options (especially in the intro), improving the character creation screen and so on. The team behind it really works on this, but it still needs plenty of time in the oven. Hopefully, the end result will prove this humble RPG nerd wrong.

Screenshot for Encased on PC

Final Thoughts

Whether in need for some additional funding or advertisement, Dark Crystal Games released its homage to Fallout way too soon, even for Early Access standards. Sadly, while the 'game' part of this post-apocalyptic RPG might change significantly, one should not expect that big of a change in the most important aspects of such a title: the writing, and the aspect of role-playing. Here's hoping this wasn't a taste of things to come.

Developer

Dark Crystal Games

Publisher

Black Tower Entertainment

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Why did you think Fallout was flawed?  At the time I thought it was an utterly amazing game, short of its graphics today, its gameplay I think still holds up.

Dragon0085 said:
Why did you think Fallout was flawed?  At the time I thought it was an utterly amazing game, short of its graphics today, its gameplay I think still holds up.

It was technically flawed - full of bugs and glitches, and heavy balance problems.
In terms of story, writing, non-linearity, role-playing, visuals (yes, visuals), it's still fantastic.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Ofisil said:

Dragon0085 said:
Why did you think Fallout was flawed?  At the time I thought it was an utterly amazing game, short of its graphics today, its gameplay I think still holds up.

It was technically flawed - full of bugs and glitches, and heavy balance problems.
In terms of story, writing, non-linearity, role-playing, visuals (yes, visuals), it's still fantastic.

Yeah, I can agree with that.  I remember finding a glitch in fallout 2 where you could unequip armor but your stats would stay the same, and when you reqeuipped they would go up, so I had an invinicible guy. 

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