Cataclismo brings innovative castle-building to the RTS genre

This upcoming real-time strategy game challenges you to build castle defenses during the day and survive waves of horrors at night.

Digital Sun

Cataclismo is an unusual gamble for indie developer Digital Sun, a studio known for action RPGs like Moonlighter and The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story. A sequel to either of those games would have been a safe bet, but instead the developer has decided to tackle a different genre altogether while bringing something new to the table. Set in a fictional medieval world, Cataclismo is a real-time strategy game that allows you to construct walls, brick by brick, and comes with a rich narrative by way of a lengthy campaign. Digital Sun showed off a demo of the game at the Day of the Devs booth during GDC 2024, but given that the Steam demo was going to be updated not too long afterwards, I delved into that more thoroughly. And so far, Cataclismo has the makings of a sleeper hit.

Lost in the Mist

Cataclismo World Map Campaign
This world map will fill with missions as the campaign continues.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Cataclismo is about restoring hope in a world that barely has any left. Many generations ago, the people found powerful artifacts called perlas that were used to construct paradise, but then, perhaps due to their hubris, the Mist came. Anyone who touched the cursed fog transformed into horrors that would attack in hordes at night. The remaining survivors scrambled to high ground and built heavily-fortified cities to keep both the Mist and the monsters out. Humanity kept itself safe by hiding behind walls until one day a baby named Iris was born with a perla inside her and with a mysterious book by her side. At the start of the demo, Lady Iris has all grown up and serves as a beacon of hope for her people. And by the end of it, she begins to learn the powers hidden within the book and leads an expedition to the lost city of paradise where the Mist can hopefullly be dispelled for good.

To accomplish this, you will need to build settlements across the continent to provide safe passage for Lady Iris and her company. A world map at the war table will guide you along by providing missions that unlock gradually as you progress through the 30-hour campaign. (You can also pet Hermes, the white crow, who is perched on the desk.) If you want to breeze through the story and build castles without much pressure, you can select Story difficulty, the easiest of five settings. On the opposite end is Extreme difficulty, which has tougher horrors but greater potential for a higher mission score. For additional content and a change of pace, you can also try survival mode and various skirmish challenges.

A brick-and-mortar operation

Cataclismo Wall Defense Bricks Lego
Using alternating layers of stone bricks will strengthen them.

SOURCE: Shacknews 

Surviving the waves of horrors at night requires efficiency and speed in gathering resources, building defenses, and commanding units in battle. Constructing a sawmill near forests and a quarry near ore deposits will create workers who will collect wood, stone, and minerals, and haul them to the main citadel at the heart of the settlement. Since the Mist remains a danger, you’ll need to build air purifiers to stockpile oxygen, preferably in high areas, that will maintain the gas masks for your citizens. This in turn will allow you to research projects at the citadel and construct the barracks to create units, like the bowman, lobber, and cannoneer. As you continue to place buildings and defenses around the settlement, its overall prosperity will improve and unlock access to more buildings and better units.

Cataclismo provides a surprising amount of flexibility for defense, allowing you to stack stone and wooden pieces as you wish. Where wood is best for quick and dirty platforms, stone will be your primary resource for crafting walls. Once you run out of daylight, a red phase on the tracker will occur that will tell you the direction of where the horrors will be coming from at night. That is your cue to pause time and begin reinforcing specific points of entry, creating walls of stone blocks that are hopefully high enough so that they gain a higher toughness rating. You’ll want to stack bricks in alternating patterns so that the wall doesn’t topple if the lowest brick is taken out. Any extra stone and wood can be put toward stalling enemies with traps and blockades.

Protection orders

Cataclismo Pet Raven Hermes
I'm not sure whether petting this white crow means anything, but it can't hurt.

SOURCE: Shacknews

All of the units in the game are focused on ranged attacks, which more or less transforms combat into tower defense. Placing your forces on the highest wall is usually sufficient as most units gain a damage boost by having a height advantage on foes. Putting them next to banners and merlons increases their range and attacks further. Having a mix of bowman and lobbers takes care of smaller vermin, while cannoneers and captors make it easier to defeat more difficult horrors, like centaurs that spawn additional enemies when they die. It’s also a good idea to send a scouting party during the day to find salvage and more areas for constructing sawmills and quarries once you’ve claimed the territory with a beacon. Any extra minutes you have to spare can be spent to have troops clear blocks in the scenery.

To make the creative process easier and save a lot of time, it’s wise to create custom blueprints of buildings that can be pasted into a scene so long as you have the resources to complete them. It’s up to you what kind of constructions you want to fill your catalog with, be it resource-efficient, flashy, or something else. Either way, you will likely need to modify blueprints a little to fit the particular terrain. More importantly, the developers plan on adding the ability for players to add and download blueprints on Steam Workshop, so you can expect a lot of imaginative designs.

Cataclismo is slated to release on July 16, 2024 on PC for Steam. A demo for the game is available on Steam too. The developer on site stated that a level editor is planned as well after release. 

This preview is based on a demo of the game at the Day of the Devs during GDC 2024 as well as a demo available on Steam.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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