Cataclysm: Bright Nights

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Cataclysm: Bright Nights
Stable game
Developer Coolthulhu, Cataclysm: Bright Nights Team and community
Theme Post-apocalypse, Zombie, Sci-fi
Influences Cataclysm, CataclysmDDA, Fallout, Deus Ex, Ultima, Mad Max, Dawn of the Dead, I Am Legend, Tremors, The Day of the Triffids, RIFTS
Released 18 June 2020 (0.0.1)
Updated 19 March 2024 (0.6.0)
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: Bright Nights

Cataclysm: Bright Nights is a roguelike with sci-fi elements set in a post-apocalyptic world. It was started as a fork of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.

While some have described it as a "zombie game", there is far more to Cataclysm: Bright Nights than that. Struggle to survive in a harsh, persistent, procedurally generated world. Scavenge the remnants of a dead civilization for food, equipment, or, if you are lucky, a vehicle with a full tank of gas to get you the hell out of there.

Fight to defeat or escape from a wide variety of powerful monstrosities, from zombies to giant insects to killer robots and things far stranger and deadlier, and against the others like yourself, who want what you have.

Find a way to stop the Cataclysm... or become one of its strongest monsters.

Cataclysm: Bright Nights is an open source fork of Cataclysm (and Dark Days Ahead). Bright Nights emphasizes game balance and interesting combat with heavier sci-fi aspects over grounded realism focused simulation of Cataclysm:DDA. Additionally Bright Nights contains a lot of rebalanced and reworked game mechanics, optimizations and Quality of Life features to make gameplay more fluid and enjoyable.


Download latest stable version: here.

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

To keep up to date with the rapid releases, a third-party launcher was developed by qrrk. 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.

Another laucnher a third-party launcher was developed by 4nonch. The launcher can be downloaded here.


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!

Or you may even try to find a way to stop the Cataclysm itself!

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.


  • Ability to Win the game by stopping the Cataclysm.
  • Electric grid system, without use of vehicles, but able to connect to them.
  • A lot of mechanics from Cataclysm DDA reworked and rebalanced.
  • 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.)

Differences from Cataclysm: DDA

  • Bright Nights emphasizes game balance and interesting combat with heavier sci-fi aspects over simulation and grounded realism of DDA.
  • Win condition.
  • Unique locations and enemies.
  • Electric grid system, without use of vehicles, but able to connect to them.
  • 3-rd party mod localization support.
  • A lot of Quality of Life features.
  • Full scale rework and rebalance of various parts of the game and game mechanics.
  • Built in high quality tileset by SomeDeadGuy, Theawesomeboophis and Community: UndeadPeopleTileset

Detailed list can be found here:

Version 0.6.0 Changelog

Version 0.5.2 Changelog

Version 0.5.0 Changelog

Version 0.4 Changelog

  • Support for LUA-based mods has been returned and improved. Added documentation for working with LUA.
  • A website has been created with documentation and tips for the game:
  • New types of bronze tools have been added.
  • Garage elevators are now functional and can transport cars from floor to floor.
  • New types of gloves have been added.
  • Added plate leather boots, gauntlets and helmet.
  • New types of insects have been added.
  • The clothes constraint interface has been redesigned.
  • The game engine has been optimized.
  • Incompatible ammunition is now grayed out in the reload menu.
  • Added location "Fort Bastion". This location can be selected as a starting location in a number of scenarios.
  • Added small blades for helicopters, which you can craft yourself.
  • Increased the efficiency of crossbows, added a forged bowstring for crossbows
  • Ear and tail mutations are now considered beautiful.
  • Stairs now function as ramps and ledges are available for automatic inspection.
  • Added electric lighter.
  • New types of sandwiches have been added.
  • Firearms and magazines for them now spawn together more often.
  • Small engines can now be crafted. Increased variety of engine components.
  • The stone chisel has been moved from the mod to the main game.
  • The firing range of shotguns has been increased. Increased shot damage, but only against unarmored targets.
  • Enhanced bionic claws.
  • The pressure cooker now has a recipe.
  • Zombie dogs and zombie shepherds now have skins.
  • New types of omelettes have been added.
  • Removing bionic glitches produces burnt bionics instead of CBM, and bionic components are now extracted from cyborgs.
  • Added debug command to export vehicle in JSON format.
  • Added the option to display shot “tracers” as lines.
  • Added lighting poles to cities. They can be disassembled into resources.
  • Expanded monster information contains information about its immunity to damage.
  • Updated external tileset.
  • Vehicle speed is now displayed even when cruise control is turned off.
  • Added a separate option for setting the plant growth rate without reference to the length of the season.
  • Reworked the experience table of the “Stats Through Kills” mod so that it scales more intelligently relative to the experience values of killed monsters.
  • Voltmeter and pH meter are now placed on the belt.
  • Repair nanobots now work correctly.
  • Rivers now flow correctly under bridges.
  • Goblins, equipment modifications and dragon bone have been added to Magiclism
  • Magicalism: Krabgeks and Black puddings monsters use the monster's version of spells, not the player's version. Weakened necrotic gaze.
  • The spells of the Magiclism mod have been rebalanced.
  • Many improvements from DDA have been transferred to Magiclism.

See detailed changelog here

Version 0.3 Changelog


  • New scenario: Play as Feral and befriend with zombies (on certain conditions).
  • Added ability to manually connect and disconnect multiple power grids via voltmeter and some materials.
  • Added shields to the game.
  • Further improvements to Rule of Cool explosions:
    • Chain explosions.
    • Items turn into shrapnel.
    • Custom animations.


  • Improved mechs.
  • Added craftable helicopter rotors.
  • Water cannons can now fire acid.
  • Buffed water purification methods.
  • Yet more tweaks to bows (decreased damage, strength cap is now a soft cap).
  • Tweaked power armor spawn locations.

New content

  • Added new CBMs. Some CBMs ported from existing mods.
  • A lot of locations reworked and improved.
  • Expansion to the Old Guard faction.


  • Lab Finale rework.
  • Updates to build files.
  • Weapon categories for martial arts and gunmods (eases mod integrations).


  • Multiple bugfixes related to NPC AI weapon selection and ranged attacks.
  • Fixes to off-road vehicle behavior.
  • Fix to the long-standing issue when not all overmap specials could spawn if there were too many mods enabled.
  • Fixes to monster attacks and movement over z-levels.

Ported from later versions of DDA

  • Feral humans (with additional tweaks).
  • Additional achievements.

Version 0.2 Changelog

  • AI now can target and shoot moving cars.
  • Added new electric grid appliances.
  • Most of the building contains built in electric grids.
  • Added hauler bot.
  • Finished ammo and armor rebalance. Armour piercing ammunition now more effective agaisnt armored targets, but armor in certain cases provides somewhat better protection against gunshots. Changes included reworked power armor stats.
  • Autodoc now can be mounted in vehicle
  • Updated DinoMod.
  • Added missing roofs to a lot of buildings.
  • Food items now show how temperature affects it rot.
  • Graphical overmap now enabled by default.
  • Fixed bugs with "vehicles diagonal holes".
  • Reorganized mod resources. All Bright Nights resources now labeled with unique id.
  • Port complete leash and lead system.
  • Deactivate pet robots in pet menu instead of query.
  • Wraith and shadow special attack updates.
  • While flying, warn when letting go of control or stop driving.
  • Prevents dodge gain exploit.
  • Allows pushing vehicles over ramps.
  • Add grid flag to more specials, mods in particular.
  • Add a suggested parrot line to mi-gos.
  • Added ability Submit bug report directly from game .
  • Allow gourmand overeating.
  • Melee skill actually impacts attack stamina usage.
  • Obsolete Graphical Overmap mod, rename to Larwick's Overmap.
  • Rebalance barbaran montante MA.
  • Adjustments to mi-go locations, atmosphere field .
  • Give two pet packs for Mr. Lapin's second mission.
  • Rework teleglow, nether attention, stare monattack.
  • add NPCs to biker_dump.
  • Add missing damage sources kills and suicide to kills list.
  • Add in-game progression diary .
  • Robots no longer completely immune to lasers.
  • Add the ability to mark items as favorite from the multidrop menu.
  • Port over fix for spellcasting monsters and summon spells.
  • Shadow and cult creature updates from Arcana.
  • used_UPS and charged_UPS itemgroups now differ.
  • Make sneakers less warm.
  • Add better pet food message.
  • Crouching beside vehicle holes.
  • Allow marking construction recipes as favorite, sort recipes by name in construction UI.
  • Migrate to C++17.
  • Add mountable autodoc and autodoc couch.
  • Add option for minimizing on focus loss.
  • Update sausage cases, cooked wasteland sausage.
  • Reduce blinking effects speed (300 -> 800ms), and add an option to change it in game.
  • Update shovels damage taking into account historical accuracy .
  • Allow easier installing/removing of some parts.
  • Camo tank top recipe.
  • Convert Wraitheon Sentinel inactive robots to steel and plastic (Aftershock).
  • Makes Autodoc Couches assignable as seats in vehicles. Adjust autodoc couch capacity.
  • Grid constructions now use workshop category.
  • Adds grid forge rigs, chemistry sets, and chemlabs.
  • Cathedral overhaul.
  • Remove HIT_AND_RUN flag from Wraitheon Sentinels (Aftershock).
  • Allow repairing items with forges.
  • Added new helicopter parts group to helipad.
  • Implement relic recharge.
  • Make bicycle alternators (dynamos) craftable.
  • Quick consistency updates for crude wood bolts.
  • remove glare protection requirement for forged frames.
  • make light mounts bolt install and add forging recipe.
  • A lot of bugfixes and infrastructure improvements.

Version 0.1 Changelog


  • Victory condition!
  • New medical zombie tree, focused on debuffing.
  • New locations, including industrial centers and bionic shops.
  • Electric grid system, without use of vehicles, but able to connect to them. See Electric Grids page for more info.
  • Z-levels (elevations) below current one are drawn as if seen from above, with blue tint. As opposed to being blue "empty air" squares from before.
  • Improved helicopters:
    • Every character/profession can use helicopters.
    • It is possible to build helicopters, if you scavenge the blades from an existing one.
    • Reduced helicopters fuel consumption to allow flying for ingame hours.
    • Rotors no longer easily break from any collisions.
    • Atomic Helicopter exist.
  • Angled vehicles don't develop "holes" in their normally-impenetrable walls. This affects all relevant game mechanics such as monster and player movement, line of sight calculation, light and scent propagation, etc.
  • CBM installation rework. CBM installation is now guaranteed, but after that failure effects may still appear. So even failed operation gives bionic to player in workable condition. CBM uninstallation still can fail completely. Autodoc can't instantly kill the player due to operation failure - instead of doing fatal damage player will be infected. Damage to player body during operation failures is now affected by bionic installation difficulty.
  • No more artificial 2 Kj bionic energy limit - you can store as much energy as your bionic batteries can.
  • Bionic scanner, to detect which corpses are worth cutting up.
  • Surgery trains first aid, scaling with target size and number of possible bionics.
  • Mutations:
    • Trait costs rebalanced to reflect their actual impact better
    • Combat mutations (armor, claws) improved
    • Some "free points" traits removed from character generation (heavy sleeper, bad liar etc.)
    • Undirected mutations happen in bulk, their number based on time since last mutation.
    • Mutations tend towards "somewhat better than at start" point-wise, to compensate for the fact that most bad mutations are more bad than most good mutations are good
    • Mutant toxins redesigned: will cause mutations once accumulated high enough, but cause no penalties
  • Ranged in general:
    • Burst fire reworked: all shots fired at same accuracy, with recoil-dependent penalty to all of them. Penalty is of same magnitude as dispersion for most guns and can be 0 for lighter ones
    • Headshots downgraded to crits with 150% damage (from >200%), grazing shots upgraded to 50% (was 0%-25%)
    • Some shotgun ammunition provides cone-shaped aoe attack
    • New automated gun turrets replacing CROWS based ones. Less deadly, but don't drop tons of valuable rifle ammo.
    • Turrets return fire against silent attackers, but not against attackers outside range. Also the code respects turrets' stats and skills better now.
  • Bows and crossbows:
    • Stats buffed (crossbows much more than bows).
    • Crossbows easier to craft.
    • Removed special cases dependent on target hp.
    • Buffed drugs roughly back to their pre-nerf stats
    • Except meth, this one provides a long term (12h), weak (5 speed, 1 per) buff and prevents sleepiness
    • Morale boosts from drugs last as long as drug effects themselves
  • Grabs:
    • Grab and pain penalties stack less.
    • Physically damaging a grabbing enemy will often break the grab (100% chance for hits taking at least 10% of max hp).
    • Grabs don't affect blocking and affect dodging much less.
    • Grab attacks are faster and followed up by a free regular attack on hit.
  • AoE attacks (from axes, spears and lajatangs) lose their requirements.
  • Winded condition removed.
  • Explosives rebalanced: lower ranges, blast damage rounded to 100%/50%/0%, shrapnel hits exactly once for damage not dependent on distance.
  • "Rule Of Cool explosions" debug setting: explosions damage only terrain and creatures in their line of sight, so hiding behind a corner actually works now.
  • Explosives, wheels and bullets no longer damage items. Strong enough explosions can still destroy them, and all 3 will pulp corpses that can revive.
  • Fires stack less, makes flamethrowers less damaging to player character.
  • Food:
    • Remove obesity mechanics and most of stomach mechanics.
    • Starvation death now takes a week from fully fed.
    • Removed slower hunger/thirst during sleep.
  • Removed animal waste product mechanics.
  • Removed tetanus, random cold and flu.
  • Fungal spores no longer spawn fungaloids, fungal disease doesn't break arms.
  • Removed food freezing/heating/mushy mechanics, rot still affected by temperature. Note that freezers still work as intended and prevent rot, and fire makes you warm - removal affects food status mechanics but does not remove temperature effects completely.

Quality of life

  • Crafting defaults to in inventory/on the ground, best workbench in radius is used anyway.
  • Can read items on the floor, in vehicles etc. Reading doesn't automatically pick up books, but leaves them on the spot.
  • Crafting in progress displays time left and crafting modifiers.
  • Butchery uses tools in crafting radius, warns about problems.
  • Deployable butchery furniture doesn't require deployment, works in item form.
  • Unloading no longer moves the item to inventory if it wasn't there before.
  • Can move items up and down z-levels in AIM (Advanced Inventory Management).
  • Target list (during shooting and reach attacks) allows shooting through windows and above vehicles (from a turret).
  • Sight range of at least 1 tile is guaranteed when not blind.
  • Tile memory does not decay.
  • Added accurate firearm dispersion/recoil stats that include all the modifiers (from skill, bionics, encumbrance and so on).


  • Significant optimization in various parts of the code.
  • Fires do not produce hot air and smoke, no longer affected by wind.
  • Option to disable event bus system (in Debug tab) - removes one big cycle hog, but also achievements and statistics.
  • Food isn't affected by radiant heat or hot air.
  • Removed slow fd_clairvoyant check which only benefited Magiclysm, but slowed down everyone
  • Cache list of all vehicles on map, since getting it is slow in 3D mode.

Ported from later versions of DDA

  • Ground vehicle z-level transitions and z+1 bridges. Ramps can be enabled through "Z-levels" world setting, new bridge generation - through "Elevated bridges" mod.
  • Graphical overmap drawn with SDL using sprites.
  • Improved autodrive.
  • Various under-the-hood improvements, such as refactors and optimizations.
  • Hundreds of bugfixes and small changes.


  • 3rd party mods translation support.
  • UnDeadPeople tileset included.
  • Restored atomic cars.
  • Restored MBR vests (with some rebalance). ESAPI vest removed.

Related links