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Game Info:

Caves of Qud
Developed by: Freehold Games
Published by: Freehold Games
Release Date: TBA
Version reviewed: 2.0.5908.991
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Genre: Rougelike RPG
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $9.99

Thank you Freehold Games for sending us a copy of this game to review!

The Caves of Qud project was started in 2007 and was released on Steam’s Early Access in July of 2015.  The outdated ASCII version is available for free on the developer’s website if you’re interested in trying the game before parting with $10. The Steam version won’t be considered finished until it has a completed main plot, sound, music, and more tile art.  Despite having a long way to go, the developers have been providing weekly updates to the game.  They also listen and respond to player feedback on the Steam discussion pages.  

Caves of Qud is best described as a roguelike game with its tile-based (think a small step up from ASCII art) graphics and randomly generated world map.  There are many Dungeons and Dragons mechanics in place especially when it comes to weapons and the amount of damage they can do.  The dated visuals will turn away many, but those who can use their imagination and enjoy futuristic sci-fi adventures will find much to like in this title.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Funny dialogue; randomly generated environments
Weak Points: ASCII themed graphics take a little getting used to; limited sound effects and music; permadeath
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence and lore

There’s plenty of humor in the character creation section as well as the quests and NPC dialogue.  When creating your character, you can custom create one, randomly roll one, load a saved character template, play the weekly challenge build, or play somebody elses’s build they tweeted.  If you create a character you like, save it because deaths in this game are permanent!  You can save your progress mid-game but once you die you’ll have to re-roll or re-load your character. 

Fortunately, there’s a bunch of options when it comes to creating your character.  Just try not to get too attached to them!  The first choice is to create a mutated human with a lot of options but with moderate starting attributes, or a True Kin which has high starting attributes and twenty bonus skill points and bonus resistances.  No matter what class you choose you get to enhance various attributes like strength, agility, toughness, intelligence, willpower, and ego.  

There’s a plethora of mutations available including physical, mental, and unstable mutations that may randomly change your genome!  For physical mutations you can give yourself heightened senses, a carapace, elemental powers, more appendages/hearts/heads, night vision, a stinger, wings, and other options.  Mental mutations are pretty cool with abilities like clairvoyance, confusion, kindle (igniting stuff with your mind!), precognition, telepathy, teleportation, space-time vortex, and many more.  Last but not least are handicaps if you choose to make this game even harder for yourself.  There are physical defects like being an albino, amphibious (requiring water submersion), having cold blood, brittle bones, hemophilia, or a ravenous appetite.  Some of the mental defects are funny too like amnesia, random teleportation, an evil twin that’s out to get you, narcolepsy, or being socially repugnant.   

Caves of Qud
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 60%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 2/10
Sound - 3/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

Once your character is created it’s time to explore this unusual world and figure out the meaning of the various ruins and artifacts lying around.  The first town you’ll visit will have some quest givers which are worth accepting quests from to get familiar with your surroundings.  There are many treasure chests in town and the game will warn you before opening them since they are not yours.  Heed that warning because the townsfolk will become hostile if you steal from them!  

As you wander about you’ll automatically eat and drink water as needed so make sure you have enough provisions to survive in the wild.  There is an option to disable that feature, if you prefer to nourish yourself manually.  Enemies are fought by bumping into them on your turn.  After a few bumps hopefully they’ll be defeated and not the other way around.  Once killed you can loot the corpse of the fallen creature and hopefully find some decent gear.  If you’re killed you’ll be shown a summary screen with your game score, the number of turns you survived, and the most valuable item you had in your possession.  

The permadeath is an interesting mechanic and one thing I like about it is the opportunity to try other mutations the next time around.    Caves of Qud is coming along nicely with new features, side quests and some minimal sound effects have recently been added to the game.  The simplistic graphics are not going away anytime soon though.

Like many dungeon crawler games there’s magic use and fantasy violence.  If you can look past that and the simplistic design, Caves of Qud has a lot of potential.  If you’re not sure if this game is for you, give the demo a try!    

 

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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