I have been waiting for the full release of Encased for a long time and the time has finally come! I am a huge fan of the classic Fallout 1 & 2 games, and to jump into that classic style of RPG fills me with a huge amount of excitement, but does it hold up to my expectations?
First off, for those who are familiar with classic RPGs such as Fallout 1 & 2 or Atom RPG, you will definitely feel at home with Encased, but rather than a 1950s era that has been used so many times, you are now in a sci-fi 70s themed era. With its bright colours and unique style, it’s a nice change in scenery. Developers Dark Crystal Games and publishers Prime Matter certainly have an impressive start, from a small Kickstarter campaign to Early Access on Steam, and now a full release.
Starting off your experience, you are presented with the story of a mysterious dome discovered in the desert, with the world uniting in order to study and discover its secrets. You are one of these participants and you must explore the dome, but before you venture forth, you must first choose your character. There are several pre-created characters to choose from, all from your usual strong fighters types to your smart, intellectual talkers, but the game also incorporates a class system of sorts, broken up into different wings.
Each wing will determine what type of character you are going for, with the Silver Wing playing host to smooth talkers and leaders, or the Black Wing being your security experts and soldiers. The White Wing is made up of scientists, whereas the Blue Wing is your construction and mechanical experts, and then there are the Orange Wing; people who have been given a second chance, but really just convicts being used to do all the heavy work that is needed.
All Wings play an integral part in the game, and all need to be considered when making choices in how you’re perceived in this world under the Dome, but the game does not hinder you into whatever choice you make, and this just opens up the possibilities for replayability.
One of the best examples was shown in an updated trailer was for a very low IQ character. When trying to talk to an NPC, it gives you an option to just dance your problem away, or perhaps you’d prefer to just kill everyone just for the sake of it. The choice is completely yours, and all have their own unique ending to the game.
At the moment, I went with the smooth talker from the Silver Wing, but whatever you choose, the developers have found a way to make the game interesting. Another thing to mention in the game mechanics is the ability to craft items such as ammo and weapons, and if you play as the Orange Wing, crafting a shiv earlier on may give you a helpful edge.
As for the game’s controls and mechanics, all of it bears a very similar system for those who normally play many other RPG games such as Disco Elysium, Atom RPG, or even any other isometric games that have a point and click control system. The game also has hints to keep players informed on what types of interactions you can complete, from tracking objectives or eating something, all of which can have an effect on your character, but for veterans of RPGs, it should all come as second nature. For those that are not familiar, the beginning of the game does ease players into the core game mechanics.
It was impressive to have a narrator for much of the dialogue rather than just having to read every interaction. This, along with many NPCs having their own voice work, actually feels like people in the real world rather than monotone robots.
It was a nice touch from the developers to implement it into the game, as they could just easily have not added that to it at all. Along with many of the game’s world environments, a fair amount of detail went into shaping what it’s like living under the dome, not to mention the amount of hand-drawn art used in creating many of the game’s characters and narrated cutscenes.
Overall, Encased had many moments that are extremely satisfying and entertaining. One of my favourite moments at the start of the game came about by talking to a Blue Wing member who asks you to step inside one of the coffins he is overseeing, and the interaction gives an interesting result depending on what you decide to do.
Moments like that make me think of little Easter eggs that I enjoyed when I first started to play RPGs such as Fallout 1 & 2 when I was growing up, and Encased, for me, was just the same feeling I had back then. From its humble beginnings as a Kickstarter to its full release, Encased certainly is an amazing game and it will sit comfortably near the top of my favourite games for 2021.
- Perfect for fans of classic Fallout 1 & 2
- Customisation of avatars
- More options in the RPG elements for game styles and replayability
- A touch of good humour