In the past years I tried a lot of Fallout flavored indie games. There were so many of them it was almost impossible to distinguish one from another. Some of them were just a waste of time, while some others were, at best, a momentary lapse of “nostalgic pleasure”.
In no order of importance I can remember Krai Mira, Skyshine’s BEDLAM, Fallen: A2P Protocol and many more. Needless to say that none of them was able to represent a real alternative to the original Fallout.
Many times I wondered about the reason of this strange phenomenon. I mean, if between 2015 and 2019 so many developers tried to create a Fallout clone, there had to be a cause.
Now, I know that many of you may disagree with me, but I think that the “culprit” of this damned trend was Bethesda with its Fallout 4. I mean, after the release of that game (back in 2015), there were so many people disappointed by that sort of “sci-fi Skyrim”, that probably many indie developers felt compelled to fill that gap.
Mind you, I’m not saying that Fallout 4 was a bad or even an ugly game, but, at least for me, it failed to deliver what many fans of the original game asked for years. Maybe this is the reason why we’re still looking for a real heir of Fallout 2…
“The past is always tense, the future perfect.“
– Z. Smith
Two years ago, TBL published a review about a little known game called ATOM RPG. One of the most significant statement of the review was: “ATOM RPG is practically a replica of Fallout dilogy“.
Actually that statement didn’t mean that the game was the umpteenth uninspired clone of Fallout, on the contrary, for the reviewer Atom RPG represented, somehow, the long awaited successor to Fallout 2.
Obviously it wasn’t a “perfect game”.
It had some weird game design decisions, some balancing problems with weapons and skills and… a lot of bugs, but we cannot forget that we’re talking about a very complex game developed by a very small indie studio.
Despite these flaws, Atom RPG had a lot to offer: many interesting non-linear quests, nice and weird characters and, above all, a great post-apocalyptic mood.
“Don’t let the past steal your present.”
– T. Caldwell
Now, let’s talk about Trodograd.
Atom Team defines its new creature like “a stand-alone sequel/expansion” of the first chapter, promising to bring with it a truckload of new content for their fans.
First thing first, it is important to consider that even if this is a stand alone game, and not a simple expansion, Trudograd continues the story of Atom RPG, so it is strongly recommended playing the previous title before the sequel. In fact when you start the game for the very first time you have the chance to transfer your hero from the previous game, with its baggage of “choices-and-consequences”. If you don’t have a previous save, don’t worry, there is the possibility to start a new game from the scratch. In this case you will have to answer to a conspicuous amount of questions, during a sort of “dreamish” dialogue with a very mysterious character.
The beginning of the story behind this new chapter is rather obvious: America and the USSR nuked each other, so millions died and the society collapsed (a true wave of optimism!).
In this new “Middle Ages”, you, as a member of ATOM (an organization tasked with protecting the post-apocalyptic remnants of humanity), are sent to a post-apocalyptic metropolis to find an experimental pre-war weapon, in order to save the humanity from a new terrible menace (coming directly from the space!).
That being said, let’s see which are the main features of the game.
One of the first thing I noticed is that this time the world of the game is smaller.
The whole adventure of Trudograd takes place in one (big) city, divided into five districts. It is possible to move from one district to another thanks to a flat world map (yeah, very Fallout style), triggering sometimes random encounters.
And here comes the first and, maybe, only flaw of the game: the combat system.
I’ve to confess I’ve never finished the first installment of the series, because of its weak and boring combat system. Unfortunately, right now, the situation in Trudograd is, more or less, the same.
I’m playing to Wasteland 3 right now, and, even if its combat system it’s not perfect, it is at least very funny. Fighting in Trodograd, instead, is simply boring.
Obviously we cannot forget that we’re talking about a game in Early Access and that there is still a long road ahead before the full release. I believe that with some little improvements (e.g. the possibility to directly control your companions or a smart implementation of covers) the combat system may become rather entertaining.
Luckily the combat system represent just a little portion of the game.
Like in every true and good RPG, in Trudograd any situation can be resolved in many different ways, so that skills like Speechcraft or Survival can be even more important than the fighting skills.
How many times we’ve heard lies like “the quests can be completed without killing anyone“. Well this time it is all true! The dialogues section of the game is top-notch and during a conversation you can, not only earn a bunch of XP, but also gain items and solve quests, everything without firing a single bullet!
In addiction to that, Trodograd boast one of the most intriguing setting of recent years. The marriage between the post-apocalyptic setting and the Russian culture is really fascinating, and it’s clear how much effort the developers (and the writers) put onto this aspect of the game.
“The future starts today, not tomorrow.”
– Pope John Paul II
That being said, the most important question now is: what can we expect for the full release? Well, it is hard to say. For now we can say that Trudograd has a lot of potential, and it could even become one of the best true-CRPG of 2021, if only the combat wasn’t so boring…
P.S. Talking about Fallout flavored indie games, I cannot forget to mention one of the best releases of recent years. I’m referring to UnderRail. If you have never heard of it or tried it, go to right the wrongs, immediately :-)!