Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation is a game whose premise looked quite interesting and yet also very much outside my wheelhouse as far as style of gameplay is concerned. However, I don’t object to being taken out of my comfort zone from time to time, and so when a key for this game landed on the ethereal surface of my existential wooden desk, I decided to set forth on my journey to explore life in a demon infested world. Here is what I found:

Story

The story, such as it is presently in Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation’s alpha state, is fairly basic and yet definitely offers you all the motivation you need. Three friends are on a camping trip in a secluded valley when the gates of hell open up around the globe, demons streaming forth to consume and destroy most of humanity. The three friends are set upon by a demon, which they are able to kill. Since they are in this secluded valley, they decide to stay there where it is relatively demon-free and build a place to live. Little by little, as other survivors find their way to the community and the place grows, you find yourself in a position to start investigating the actual cause of the demonic invasion and learn more about your foes in the process. As of now, the alpha ends at the point where you have your first major breakthrough, and more story will be added as the game gets closer to full release.

I found the story aspects, from this overarching story to the little tales told within via random events (or planned ones based on a specific day or place explored), add quite a bit of character and lore to the world as well. While presently not fully fleshed out, this aspect was still enjoyable, and there are even some fun Easter eggs to be found within as well.

Gameplay

There are a few different gameplay elements found within Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation.

Base building

Base building is one of three core elements to this game. You will start out by building a simple shelter and some basic equipment and furnishings, including a workbench and cooking station. However, as you find materials, you will begin to expand your base to include many more upgrades. As survivors start to trickle in, you will be expanding not only the core elements of your base but also building farms, livestock pens, research stations, mines, and so on. To some extent, this is handled like you would expect from a real time strategy game.

The larger your base, the more people it can accommodate, but also the more research you can conduct into the apocalypse, better equipment you can craft, and so on. You will see your base continually growing as your colony grows and as you explore and bring more and different materials back to your base. Research upgrades will allow you greater and more varied options as far as this goes as well.

Exploration

Exploration in Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation is at least as important as base building, and will actually be necessary to really expand your colony, find new materials and equipment, discover new research options, save and recruit other survivors, and generally expand your knowledge of this apocalyptic world.

Combat

Combat is handled in real time tactical fashion. While exploring, your parties of up to six people will enter combat whenever enemies observe them. This is accomplished by providing visible arcs which represent how far sound and line of sight combine to reveal your presence to the various demons in the world.

Actual combat is handled in real time as mentioned above, with use of cover and the ability to pause and plan attacks to some extent. If you have played games like XCOM, then you understand tactical combat. If you’ve played any number of CRPG’s, then you will understand the real time aspects of this battle system.

Upgrading/Research

This is where the RPG aspects of the game really show. All community members gain experience, not only from combat, but also from simply performing mundane tasks such as farming, building, mining, and so on. As they gain experience, they level up and gain different leveling options based on their class and generally what they have been doing prior to leveling up. If they have been used in more combat focused roles, their upgrades will reflect this fact. If they never leave the base and have been working around the community, the choices will likewise reflect this.

There are several classes. These aren’t selectable. Whichever survivors you rescue will already have their class selected. Additionally, each survivor has traits which allow them to specialize. For example, one might be an alien abductee and another might be vegan. There is a wide variety of these, and they all provide percentage adjustments to abilities.

Research is eminently important as well. You are building a community from the ground up and the world as we know it has ended. As such, you need to relearn some basic tasks, from figuring out how to build different types of buildings such as stone structures, watch towers, ore smelters, etc.; to being able to craft different equipment, from simple things like pickles to more complex things like Uzis and swords.

However, this is also a world where demons have invaded. So, occult research features at least as prominently. As you research more deeply into the occult, you will figure out how to build both holy and unholy structures and objects which will aid you in your endeavor to not only survive, but indeed thrive in this version of the apocalypse while also working towards trying to figure out why all this happened and possibly stop or even reverse it.

Other

The above are the core elements at play in this game. However, there are some other things of note. You will HAVE to explore to find necessary resources, but this also opens up more of the map as well, giving you more options in this regard. Your people have to eat, drink, and sleep, so you will need to manage this. Injuries and afflictions will need to be treated. As your community grows, demons will become increasingly aware of it. You will need to defend your colony. Random events will happen in the world which you shouldn’t ignore. There really is a lot to this game. I found that by day 50, I had finished all the story available, but had only explored about half of the map. The strength of enemies encountered also elevates as you progress. You will still encounter one or two imps (the lowest of the low in the demon hierarchy), but you also might start encountering arch demons as you grow stronger and they become more aware of a real human presence in the area.

Audio

The audio in Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation never failed to be quite ominous. There is always a subtle, foreboding orchestration in the background. Also, the various sounds from combat and mundane tasks alike really bring life to this world.

Graphics

Visually, Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation is fairly bare bones. It’s a nice looking game, but definitely carries the appearance of something that could have released ten or fifteen years ago. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and it is effective, but also nothing to really write home about overall as of now.

Verdict

Judgement: Apocalypse Survival Simulation, in its alpha state, is already far superior to the majority of fully released games out there. You can easily get a solid fifteen to twenty hours of gameplay in without running out of new stuff to find or explore, and probably could spend thirty or so hours exploring every corner of the map. I would like to see more variety in the actual exploration maps (presently, there are only a handful of different types of layouts when you explore a town or camp or what have you). Other than that though, I don’t really see much to be critical of in this alpha.

The game itself provides an approachable and refreshing take on base building, incorporating party based mechanics, RTS elements, and definite RPG aspects that really put the game over the top. Suncrash really has done a great job so far with this game. Right now, in early access alpha, I would still easily recommend its purchase.