Encased, just launched on Kickstarter by Dark Crystal Games, is a new isometric RPG set in an alternate version of the 1970s where deep space is already humanity’s new frontier. Created with an eye to the past and directly inspired by the best of the isometric RPGs of the 1990s, Encased mixes homages with gameplay that should appeal to both the nostalgic and the modern gamer.
In this alternate version of the 1970s, humanity has discovered a mystery construction that they have labeled “the Dome” out in the limitless universe. There’s a plethora of unexplored technology in the Dome that the C.R.O.N.U.S. Foundation is exploring, but once people enter the Dome they cannot leave. The gameplay and its choices revolve around the distinction of different “Wings,” which are a sort of job assignment based on the color you are. In the demo I saw, the Orange Wing protagonist had a difficult time finding any sympathy or advantages because the Orange Wing is comprised of ex-convicts there to do the manual labor. This made for a very interesting playthrough, and shows the high replayability of the game, considering there are several other Wings with different skill sets, like scientists, engineers, and administrators. The C.R.O.N.U.S. Foundation and the Dome have many secrets that need explored regardless of the color of your Wing.
The main draw for me, other than the retro feel of the whole game that’s bound to draw old school fans of the genre in, is the array of choices at your disposal. A good RPG gives you choices. A great RPG gives you lots of choices. While the Wings limit you in some ways—many of your actions and stats are constrained by the Wing you are—players also have a chance to customize their stats after they get used to the playstyle of the game. The choices are pretty broad, and I enjoy the ability to customize the main character’s life and backstory as they play throughout the heavy sci-fi themes—another nice twist, as so many modern role-playing games are fantasy-based instead. And…the sideburns Oh, the sideburns. I love seeing them on characters in space.
Right now certain elements of the game, like the music and the turn-based combat, are still under development, but regardless of the Kickstarter’s progress the St. Petersburg-based team plan to finish it. However, the Kickstarter’s success would mean the significant fleshing out of the game and the story (which already looks pretty beefy, so things can only go up from here). If you’re a fan of science fiction, RPGs, or just want a fun game to play, I’d make sure to keep Encased in your crosshairs.