Early Access Preview: Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation

By Sean Couture 28 Nov 2017 0

Resembling colony management sims such Rimworld, Factorio and Prison Architect, Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation has the most “Steam Early Access” title I’ve hear in a long time. Complete with crafting, managing hunger bars and base building it's to Early Access what Unity Asset flips where to Steam Greenlight back in the day. So imagine my surprise when I came to preview this title and found actual joy in doing so. Suncrash games, if you’re reading I apologise for unfairly judging your work right off the bat.

The world as we know it has come to an end. Foul, abhorrent demons walk the earth, looking to prey on what’s left on mankind. You and your ragtag band of survivors must scavenge resources, build defenses and explore in order to survive. Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation’s world is divided amongst dozens of small areas. The one you’ll get to know best will be the first where you set up your base. This first area will almost always be awash with raw materials and resources so early game bottlenecks aren’t much of a worry.

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You start the game with three survivors, each of whom has their own set of skills and drawbacks making them more or less capable at certain tasks. Survivors have priority queues which allows you to instruct them as to which tasks they should prioritise if you’ve set multiple. These priority queues are essential later on in the game when your colony’s population expands and after a while I found myself barely micromanaging my survivors.

Buildings you’ll need at the start are: a bed, a well, a food table, a research table, a log cabin or two to store all of that in and some farms. Base building overall is simplified compared to other titles and survivors never have to comeback with resources they’ve gathered, as soon a they acquire something it pops straight into your base’s limitless and disembodied shared inventory. However that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some faults with it. For instance your start with enough resources to make a bed but it takes faaarrr too many buildings and resources to make another which meant my survivors where becoming fatigued far too often as only one could the bed at a time. I would’ve prefered the ability to build a simple bed out of scraps and leaves and so on whilst proper beds can have the same prerequisites but possibly give survivors bonuses for sleeping in them. Another little complaint is that log cabins and base buildings in general can’t seem to be customised, they come in two sizes; rectangle and bigger rectangle. I can understand that this circumvents the issue of having player designed building break the game but it takes some of the fun out of it when I know my base will always just be a collection of boxes.

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On the right of the screen, below the minimap, there is a little percentage bar showing you how aware the demons are of your base. Occasionally scouting parties will show up and hang around for a period of time on the overworld map. Being proactive and sending out a team of survivors to kill them will decrease this percentage bar, ensuring you face fewer and weaker foes.

When you do make contact with the enemy combat is very easy to grasp. Survivors will automatically engage any enemies within a small radius around them but they won’t pursue or move to attack enemies out of range of their own accord. On the one hand this can be a little finicky in larger fights where you constantly have to pause the game to reposition people. However I found this system meant that I never ran into that classic RTS problem where units decide to run off after unimportant enemies, get themselves or allied units killed unnecessarily in the process. Survivors can take cover that gives them a boost to both their defense and accuracy and should things get to hairy you can retreat survivors from the area (excluding your base area of course) individually which is a nice touch.

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Speaking of areas, Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation comes with an overworld for you to explore. Areas will mostly be for purpose of scavenging and will have different difficulty levels and loot in accordance with what they are. Barns and suburbs are easy, whereas military bases and factories will be more of a challenge. Events will also appear on the overworld map such rescuing other survivors. The maps have enough variety to them that it takes a while before you get tired of seeing the same ones but their size is a little underwhelming especially in the rescue missions. In these you can sneak past enemies and then, upon finding them, assign one of your team to break free the survivor being held in a cage. As soon as you interactive with the cage however the demons immediately know where you are and charge towards you. On larger maps this wouldn’t be so bad and it would probably add a little tension, but with these maps being so small and the cage unlock taking a fair amount of time, the enemies are on top of you almost instantly on every occasion.

Using the research table I mentioned earlier you can gain access to better weapons and armour which is essential in later parts of the game when bigger and badder enemies show. I tried it on against a group werewolves (pretty sure they’re not technically demons but whatever) using survivors armed with only clubs and basic armour and my team got absolutely overwhelmed, barely making it out of there with their lives. However the next group of werewolves I ran into were no match for rifles and improvised explosives. The game’s five tech trees are fairly well fleshed and cover everything from agriculture, to occult rituals, to holy weapons though sadly the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch does not appear to be present. Unfortunately they’re less “trees” as such and more lines that branch and rejoin. After about 10-15 hours or so most players will have reached the same end points regardless of how or where they started on the five separate trees.

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Aside from the games less than stellar art direction (which is more functional than ugly) content is it’s only current draw back. Once you reach the point where your colony’s security is no longer a problem and your people are armed to the teeth with AR-15s and holy swords the game loses some of its edge. I think having more defined tech trees could work to  

Overall, Judgement is a testament to what Steam Early Access can and should be. Suncrash even accept community input and have players pitch and vote on features they would like to see implemented. The game’s foundations are unquestionably solid and I’m happy to report that I didn’t suffer a single crash during my playtime. I wholeheartedly recommend this title to newcomers and veterans of the colony building genre as its relative simplicity makes it both easy to get into and a refreshing break from the constant micromanagement found in other titles. For those of you who perhaps are still on the fence, I would suggest follow Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation’s development as it is subject to continuous support and updates.

 

Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation entered into Steam's Early Access program on April 11th, 2016. It was due to release in October this year, however due to user feedback that release has now been pushed into Q1 2018.

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