|Platform||DOS, Linux, Windows; (open source)|
The year is 2129, and man has taken to the stars. With him he had brought all of the wonders and horrors that he was wrought throughout the ages; joy and sorrow, peace and war, life and death. He has also found that he is not alone…
Xenocide the roguelike presents world from distant future. Humanity has advanced far beyond what modern people dream about technology. Then came the discovery of hyper-drive engine enabling rapid space exploration. Man begins to expand his empire, and finally meets intelligent alien race.
The crew of the Columbus attempted to make contact with the alien vessel, but they received no response. They waited for ten long hours, transmitting the same message of greetings and peace. Then, just when most of the crew had begun to suspect that the alien vessel might be abandoned, they received a response from it. The response did not come in the form of a communication, it came in the form of a missile, a missile with an antimatter warhead.
Thus began the war.
Hostile alien race, known only as the Enemy.
You are a worker on mega-freighter “Atlas”, a cargo ship. The ship gets hit by missile while approaching colony. The shuttle is going down, you need to make your way to escape capsules. With some luck at least one will be available and ready for launch. Unfortunately, except crew on ship there are lots of hostile creatures. “Atlas” was going to pick up raw ore for processing, not ship supplies for zoo. Then where those critters came from?! No time to worry, right now you must survive.
Since your shuttle is no warship, no arms are available onboard. To defend yourself you must resort to improvised weapons. Whatever is within reach of your hand will do. Wooden rail, crowbar, metal pipe or nail pistol and varoius tools were not designed with combat in mind but you now have chance of testing their effectivity under such conditions. Firearms greatly outperforms meele but ammunition is not easily available.
Available weapon assortment is broad. Swords went out of use long ago but a chainsaw, an axe or a large hammer can be used in meele very well. Firearms deserve more attention. Xenocide’s UI has most straightforward ranged attack system I have seen. You may fire at target with just one key ‘f’. Nearest creature in view is automatically selected but if you want to shoot at something else you can cycle with ‘n’. That is all, no macros needed. Guns may have additional fire modes. Semiautomatic weapons can shot up to three rounds consecutively without loss of accuracy which is faster than sending bullets one by one. Double barreled shotgun can be fired using both barrels or only one. Finally, some rifles offer burst mode. This one consumes much ammo but wastes enemy pretty fast.
If so wide array of devastative powers was not enough grenades can come handy. If your character did not have combat training it will be unable to tell its type. Of course it is easy to fix but grenades are finite supply. Some items need energy to function. Throughout the game batteries and accumulators of various size, weight and recharge rate may be found. Add pills that work exactly like potions in fantasy roguelikes. Medical training allows to recognize them.
Notable feature is possibility to damage or destroy many types of terrain. With axe one can break many doors, mining drill can be used to dig through stone but even explosions do some damage. In areas exposed to heavy fire walls are going to be less durable. In mines beware of cantillevers because ceiling may collapse there.
Xenocide explores concept of genetic manipulation. While most roguelikes allow player character to become whomever he wants, this game gives possibility to become whatever one wants. Soon one finds way to integrate own DNA with that of any chosen specimen. Although the process is still in experimental stages (it is also illegal), satisfying results can be obtained more often than not. Remember to bring DNA samples!
Menagerie consists mostly of weird critters with addition of few surviving humans (who have lost their sanity in the process) and monsters living naturally on Tartarus 3 plus some robots. You would do best to keep your distance from creatures, especially if they are poisonous or radioactive. Must not forget multi-tile enemies which is a rare feature. Unfortunately aliens are not implemented yet.
Robots and machines are most interesting foes. You can construct your own from parts. First you need a casing. Shell has space for one CPU, several manipulation units and maybe motive units. You may aim to build light robots with quick movement programmed to seek enemy and detonate grenades, turrets providing cover while you rest… almost anything you can think of. There is slight chance of encountering Utility Robot in the shuttle. This machine seeks out trash to utilize it. Great for salvaging parts. How fast a robot can act depends on frequency and quality of its CPU. Programmers can reprogram machines to be friendly to them but to turn on or off a robot mechanical knowledge is required.
Current version has sound and music. Package with these is whole 46 MB which is unusually big for a roguelike. Game is much in progress sometimes descriptions contain typos or are completely missing. Some locations right now are just empty, waiting to be populated. There is way too much ammo generated. Often you cannot carry it all. Serious drawback is slowness of Windows version caused by PDCurses port.
Xenocide is easy to learn fun game. List of all commands fits on one screen. Inventory is noun-verb style which removes need to learn additional keystrokes. Definitely worth checking out. Personally I had most fun toying with the genetic machine.
Reviewed for Roguetemple by Michael Bielinski