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Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
Stable game
Developer Kevin Granade et. al.
Theme Post-apocalypse, Zombie, Sci-fi
Influences Cataclysm, Fallout, Deus Ex, Ultima, Mad Max, Dawn of the Dead, I Am Legend, Tremors, The Day of the Triffids, RIFTS
Released 02 January 2013 (DDA) ({{{relver}}})
Updated 01 March 2023 (0.G "Gaiman") ({{{updver}}})
Licensing Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike
P. Language C++
Platforms Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
Interface ASCII, Graphical tiles, Keyboard
Game Length Open ended
Official site of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a post-apocalyptic sandbox roguelike, focusing on survival in a world destroyed by zombies and otherworldly horrors. It is undergoing rapid development, and is apt to change massively between releases. Up-to-the minute experimental builds are available, and the source is freely available at the game's GitHub repository. Stable releases are made occasionally.


Binaries for every release and the latest experimental builds are available on the project's home page. Official builds are available for Linux, Windows, Mac and Android.

The stable releases usually contain fewer features than the experimental builds. While features in the experimental mode may not be balanced, it has been claimed to be more stable than the "stable" version. As such, most people recommend the experimental versions.

To keep up to date with the rapid releases, a third-party launcher was developed by remyroy. This can be used to update the game while preserving saves and settings, and can also be used to install mods. The launcher can be downloaded here.

Cataclysm has also been ported by third parties to iOS, but is extremely out of date.


Gameplay is presented in the standard top-down turn-based format. You begin the game in a curiously empty Evacuation Shelter, with nothing but a pocket knife, the clothes on your back and a book of matches to begin with. The city is totally overrun and any foray further than the outskirts is frank suicide for the unprepared. Smart survivors will begin their journey by smashing some of the benches in the shelter and using the resultant nails and wood to create a nailboard, a poor man's weapon surely, but better than your bare hands. Your next thought should be to secure some food, you can risk a quick run into the outskirts of a city to raid refrigerators for food, or take your chances in the wild; running down a deer and clubbing it to death to provide your dinner or dying at the hands of a zombear, maddened with the virus that is destroying the world. With improved survival skill, one can craft a knife spear using the long string and heavy stick from a broken window and a spike made from scrap metal. The knife spear is a truly deadly weapon in skilled hands and can even be used to roast bits of flesh over open fire, should you survive that long.

You may now be noticing your player can carry very little. Cataclysm gives items three dimensions, requiring you to not only have the weight capacity to pick them up, but also the volume. Your jeans alone cannot hold very much, but exploring can reward you with backpacks, cargo pants, and trenchcoats which can hold plenty. There are also rumours of powered suits which have attachments allowing them to carry huge quantities of items. For now you may want to make and wear a Makeshift Sling, but it's cumbersome so be sure to drop it if you get in a fight.

Cataclysm focuses heavily on crafting (the crafting menu is accessed via the & key), with many basic necessities such as clothing and clean water being craftable from items you find laying around or salvage from other goods. Useless clothing can be cut up for rags by (a)pplying a knife, and keen hunters will soon find themselves with a great many pelts and patches of leather with which they can create warm clothing. And this is very important, as being too cold can prevent you from sleeping, leave you frostbitten, or in extreme cases, cause you to die. If you cannot find enough clothes to warm yourself, you will need to light a fire. Be very wary though, fire safety has been pushed to the rear in recent years, and buildings can go up in flames at the slightest provocation, digging a pit outside your door and dumping wood into it serves well, fire cannot spread out of pits. You can explore some of the things you can make over at the Item Browser

Once basic survival is assured, you may wish to make yourself more comfortable, perhaps you wish to construct a wall around your evac shelter, or add a bed to a corner, or simply barricade the windows against threats (the construction menu is accessed via the * key). You may also wish to seek out a vehicle, with the ability to be truly mobile, you may find zombies are nothing more than a mere annoyance, vehicles can be further improved by mechanically minded characters, adding spikes and turrets, plating them against damage, or even installing water tanks and a small kitchen.

By the time you have done all of this, you may think you've done everything there is to offer, but really you have only scratched the surface. Legend speaks of strange temples with dangerous artifacts, science labs buried deep under the earth with their obscene experimentation, caves where thousands of scurrying feet can be heard. So load up, hop in your deathmobile, and go show the world what it should be scared of!

There are numerous scenarios and professions to try; with different traits, stats and skills resulting in countless combinations. Try them out to find the best one for yourself.


  • Detailed character creation, with a plethora of traits and skills to choose from.
  • Bionics, somewhat similar to the magic system in many games.
  • Mutations that act as additional traits, both positive and negative.
  • Unbounded, fully randomized world maps that is persistent between characters.
    • World generation options, and versatile editing methods.
  • A wide variety of items to craft (food, makeshift tools, clothing, and more).
    • New recipes may be acquired by honing your knowledge through practice or learning from books.
  • Realistic fire, smoke, and other dynamic map effects.
  • Over 300 item types, including a multitude of real-world guns, drugs, and tools.
    • Many drugs are addictive and will require continuous use to avoid withdrawal effects.
  • Ability to drive around in vehicles found in the post-apocalyptic landscape.
    • These can be modified to your needs, or you could even build one from scratch!
  • Fully destructible environment and construction system.
    • Ability to mine, smash, or deconstruct almost all aspects of the environment.
    • Ability to board doors and windows, construct traps and fortify your home base to prevent a rude awakening by a zombie.
    • Ability to construct your own structures, including walls and a roof.
  • Numerous types of zombies that can evolve over time.
    • Options for static zombies (spawned at the start of the game) or hordes (wandering spawn points attracted to noise).
  • Health tracked for each body part, along with deep bites that can become infected.
  • Seasons that can be set to realistic lengths.
  • A day/night cycle with the need to sleep (can be mitigated with drugs).
  • A temperature system, being too cold or too hot is quite hazardous.
  • 2D and isometric tile support.
  • Soundpack support.
  • Defense mode, a coffeebreak mode with fast-paced combat. (Currently broken.)


In this scene, a player battles for his life in a ruined city.


Below, a player takes his heavily customized speed machine up to absolutely ludicrous speeds. His engines did not survive.


Here, a player shows his status menu, along with all the status effects his character has managed to accumulate.


Related links