Cataclysm is a zombie survival rogue-like game - free to download, and lots of fun, but still in alpha and very hardcore.
I thought I'd give it a try yesterday and, not being very hardcore myself, I downloaded the Windows port with Deon's 32x32 graphics tileset. (It's very simple. Unzip the folder somewhere, then click on Cataclysm.exe to start the game. Note that you might need the wiki for the controls.)
You start in an evac center. Unfortunately, you've apparently missed the last shuttle - or maybe no one made it out, I don't know. At any rate, there's only one other person there, and in both of my starts, he wasn't much help at all.
You've got nothing but jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt, and that won't keep the zombie hordes at bay. If you're very lucky, there will be something in the basement you can scavenge. Unfortunately, you can't carry anything except what you can hold in your hands.
So the first thing you need to do is leave the shelter (which is not a safe house, BTW) and try to find some gear. Top priority is a backpack, or even just cargo pants or a vest, so you can carry items. Look for a military surplus outlet or maybe a sporting goods store. Everyone else is dead - or worse than dead - so you can't be squeamish about looting.
And look for a weapon. Guns are nice, but the noise will bring zombies running. A melee weapon is quieter, but if you're close enough to hit a zombie with one, they'll be close enough to hit you. Of course, you need food and water, too - plus drugs for medical care and morale.
Note that you've got about ten minutes at the start of the game before the zombies show up, though that doesn't mean you're safe until then. My first character was eaten by a pack of wolves before he'd even seen a zombie. I'd found a gun, but no ammunition. And wolves are fast. I could have beaten off one or two, but not a dozen.
The game is turn-based. It's all about smart decisions, rather than quick reflexes. But don't expect your character to last long. It's very tough. Still, if you do last, there's no limit to the world. The gameworld is procedurally generated, so you can explore pretty much forever.
My second character started out in a poor location, I thought. But I was quickly able to find a backpack and a pair of binoculars (when that's in my inventory, I can usually spot zombies before they spot me). I found a sweet little .22 rifle and a box of shells, too, but I hesitated to shoot it, not without a silencer.
Instead, I've just been running away - or trying to. (That graphic at the start of this post, by Sedate Meerkat, is perfect for my character.) I found a baseball bat, and I was able to use that to kill the first zombie that surprised me. Yeah, I was injured a bit in the fight, but not too bad.
The worst thing is that I don't have a safe place to live, and I can't carry very much in my backpack. It just... hurts to leave stuff behind - water purifiers, tools, pots and pans, a hotplate. I even passed up a bow and arrows, because I couldn't stand to leave my rifle behind (but I debated that for a long time).
I was looting a gas station when there was a huge explosion outside. I don't know what caused it, but when I checked, it looked like a zombie convention out there. Not just the ordinary zombies, either, but the really dangerous ones.
So I scooted. There was a pile of batteries there, too - essential for my flashlight, among other things. I just hated to leave them. But if I'd delayed, I would have died.
The candy and potato chips and beef jerky I'd scavenged at the gas station didn't do much but keep me from starving (I did fill up my water jugs at the broken toilet there), so I headed for a grocery store. It was full of good food, and since a thunder storm had moved in, I decided to spend the night in a back room with only one door and no windows.
Note that I've got no way to barricade doors, and my character is a very sound sleeper (one of his bad traits). Nevertheless, a loud noise woke me some time before dawn. When I cautiously looked out the door, I discovered that the whole grocery store was on fire. I'm guessing that lightning struck it.
Luckily, there was still a narrow passage past the fire, though it was filled with smoke. In the front of the store, I grabbed what food I could, then ran out into the pitch-dark night.
My binoculars don't help when it's too dark to see, and I didn't dare risk turning on my flashlight, so I was sure I'd stumble upon a zombie. But I was able to follow the wall north to a building next door, where I waited until it got light.
The next day, I found a crowbar, so I was able to enter locked homes - with some effort, but without needing to smash noisily through the door or windows. (Unfortunately, I had to give up my comforting baseball bat - just not enough room in my pack.) I got tired early, so I tried to sleep in one of those homes, only to be awakened by zombies crashing through windows to the northwest and northeast.
I left to the south, smashing a window myself (and getting cut in the process). It was already getting dark, and zombies were hot on my trail. I tried to loop through some traps to the southwest, then headed northwest again. But a shocker zombie followed me, and sent a bolt of electricity in my direction just as I rounded the corner of a house.
I didn't have a choice, then. I pulled out my .22 rifle and started shooting. It took an embarrassingly large number of shots before I killed the zombie - and it got frighteningly close - but at last, it was dead. And I took off running again.
This time, a strangely-deformed, sinewy zombie caught up to me, loping forward with unbelievable speed. Again, I had to shoot. Again, it took awhile before I was able to kill this very speedy zombie (I'm not the world's best shot), and it got close enough to hit me a couple of times.
Other zombies were starting to catch up by then, so I continued to run north, tired, hungry, and limping. It was pure luck that I managed to lose them, pure luck that they didn't catch me as I slept in a house sometime later. But you need luck to survive a zombie apocalypse.
The next morning, I was very hungry, so I headed north again, towards a distant grocery store. This time, a huge, brutish zombie started following me, and I couldn't seem to shake it. I was afraid my little .22 wouldn't have much effect on such a brute, so I kept running.
I reluctantly passed up a gas station, despite my hunger (and despite my wish to make some Molotov cocktails). It was just too clearly a deathtrap. But I dodged around one building and into a pawnshop, where I found a more powerful pistol, with ammo. (I had to drop some things. I hate to give up useful supplies, but... one must prioritize.)
I expected the zombie to follow me inside, but it must have lost my trail. (I saw a wolf to the east. Do zombies chase animals, too, or just people?) At any rate, I'd entered the back door, but there was also a door to the north, and a grocery store just to the east, so I ran over there and finally satisfied my hunger.
I spent a long time in the grocery store, eating and resting in the back room. I almost decided to spend the night there. But I don't like to spend too much time in any one place. And there was no back door, so no place to run if another horde of zombies broke through the front.
So I'm on the run again. I ate all the produce in the grocery store that hadn't spoiled, so I'm back to living on candy and potato chips. And it's getting late, so I really do need to find a place to sleep. I still need a silencer for my rifle, too - and a million other things, most of which I couldn't carry, even if I found them.
But so far, I've found the things I have to have to survive. So it could be worse. And tomorrow, it probably will be.
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. I have varied interests, so there's a little bit of everything here. I encourage you to look around. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle. - Molly Ivins
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill