RPGWatch Feature - Encased Review

Myrthos

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Redglyph played Encased and had enough fun with it to write this review.

Encased is set in an alternate retro-futuristic '70s era. The game takes place inside a giant Dome that has been built by a mysterious, more advanced civilization called the Forefathers, and which has been recently discovered in a remote desert. CRONUS, a company founded by governments for that purpose, has sent people inside the Dome to explore and assess the situation. There, they found new technologies and strange artefacts left by the Forefather. More people were sent, they built facilities and brought more equipment inside the Dome to recover these artefacts and try to understand their technology. The player is one of the new arrivals.

The Dome is also the host to the Maelstrom, which has a life of its own and reacts to the human presence by spawning anomalies, and triggering other events that will quickly escalate to a potential disaster. As a little caveat in the contract, the journey to the Dome is a one-way trip for living creatures! Since the explorers cannot come back, they can only face those events in order to preserve the settlements and survive.

The story is sound and relatively simple; you will not find overly convoluted plots and extensive lore in Encased. Yet it is original and doesn't follow the usual post-apocalyptic nuclear scenario of many other games. The difference can be felt when the player explores the areas too: it is not a desolated environment but a mix of modern facilities, countryside settlements and a few areas that have been devastated by a cataclysm.

More information.
 
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HiddenX

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Thanks Redglyph - I'll add the game to the RPGWatch Curator.
 
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henriquejr

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Hey RedGlyph!

A great review! Congratulations! :)
 
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Redglyph

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Thanks, and thanks @Myrthos; for the publication process. :)

Many thanks to those who took the trouble of reading the draft, especially @purpleblob1; who gave many good suggestions to improve it! :) And HiddenX for the grammar fixes despite my best efforts to overwrite his corrections! ;)
 
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vanedor

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Thanks for the review. I decided to have the game sit on the shelf while I finish Pathfinder and Trudograd. Hopefully, by the time I get to it, many of its issues are going to be resolved.
 
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forgottenlor

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Thanks for the very thorough and detailed review @Redglyph;. This one is sitting in my backlog waiting for me to finish Wrath of the Righteous. I'm glad to hear you liked it! a decline in 2nd half game content is unfortunately a problem in a lot of games. I think its because developers know that few people actually finish games, and initial reviews which fuel sales are often posted after a few hours of gameplay.
 
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Redglyph

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Thanks for the review. It was already on my list. One day I'll be able to play again.
You don't have enough time at the moment? Or have you been burnt out by WotR?

Thanks for the review. I decided to have the game sit on the shelf while I finish Pathfinder and Trudograd. Hopefully, by the time I get to it, many of its issues are going to be resolved.
I did the opposite and left Pathfinder the time to stabilize since it's a much more complex and time-demanding game. The issues in Encased are not blocking and easier to forgive.

Thanks for the very thorough and detailed review @Redglyph;. This one is sitting in my backlog waiting for me to finish Wrath of the Righteous. I'm glad to hear you liked it! a decline in 2nd half game content is unfortunately a problem in a lot of games. I think its because developers know that few people actually finish games, and initial reviews which fuel sales are often posted after a few hours of gameplay.
I don't think it's been calculated like that, at least not in this case. I suspect many developers, even seasoned ones, are not able to limit the scope and get carried away, then realize it's time to finish and are overwhelmed.

In Encased, it's really the matter of writing more quests and dialogues, everything else is already in place, they wouldn't have designed complete locations knowing they'd be under-used.

I wouldn't put it past them in AAA games, however.
 
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purpleblob

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I will also try out this game once I'm done with my 3rd run of WotR :)

I don't think it's been calculated like that, at least not in this case. I suspect many developers, even seasoned ones, are not able to limit the scope and get carried away, then realize it's time to finish and are overwhelmed.

I also agree with Redglyph that for smaller/indie/AA studios, its likely due to scope creep - they get too carried away with their enthusiasm then forget they have limited budget and time.
 
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Pladio

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You don't have enough time at the moment? Or have you been burnt out by WotR?


I did the opposite and left Pathfinder the time to stabilize since it's a much more complex and time-demanding game. The issues in Encased are not blocking and easier to forgive.


I don't think it's been calculated like that, at least not in this case. I suspect many developers, even seasoned ones, are not able to limit the scope and get carried away, then realize it's time to finish and are overwhelmed.

In Encased, it's really the matter of writing more quests and dialogues, everything else is already in place, they wouldn't have designed complete locations knowing they'd be under-used.

I wouldn't put it past them in AAA games, however.

Work has gotten busier again so can't have long lunch breaks to play and baby #2 making it hard to play proper games in the evening. :biggrin:
 
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Kordanor

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I like the game for the most part. Sometimes it does feel a bit unpolished though. Already crossed multiple spots where I can easily get unlimited experience for example.

I think the one thing I like least is the interface. The review only touches it. Yes, it looks nice, and yes, there are tooltips. But I think that doesn't go deep enough.

For example: The interface wont explain how your hit chance is actually calculated.
Wile the interface tells you how much damage each shot does, it doesnt tell you how many AP it costs to use it, making the first info basically pointless.
You need to reload for each character manually and individually, and to make it more annoying the game also locks you out of any other action while reloading. So its reload, wait 2 sec until the character reloaded, switch to next weapon, reload, wait, switch, reload, wait and so on.

The interface completely fails in the inventory. Sorting through it is a pain. Yes, there are buttons to sort, but they are not working. If you sort for weight, you might have heavy items further down in your stash. You also cant have your "own" way to sort stuff, because the game will automatically sort things whether you like it or not. It will even re-arrange items if you just click through your characters. Trading is a pain, as you got all worn items mixed into your trade window. You cannot separate items by putting them on different characters. Items from your stash are not used when crafting. Hovering over an item slot will not show you which items you can equip in the slot. You split Items by doubleclicking (you can get used to that but who would think of such an unconventional way?).
While the interface looks nicer than something like Fallout or Skyrim, I think it's actually worse to handle as it doesn't really provide workarounds and you constantly run into issues and annoyances.

It's not bad enough to ruin the whole game, but its pretty bad.

Besides of that I would recommend the game. I am only maybe 1/3 or 1/2 through though, having played for 63h (doing a lets play, reading out all texts and so on)
 
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Redglyph

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I like the game for the most part. Sometimes it does feel a bit unpolished though. Already crossed multiple spots where I can easily get unlimited experience for example.
It does, but for a game of this league, it's fine. That's how I review a game, relatively to its pretention. I don't review it as an absolute (like Ye Old Entertainment did) because it makes no sense, any indie game would be bad.

XP exploits are common in many RPGs, it takes some time to remove all those spots. Ultimately it's not a real problem, up to the players to cheat/exploit and ruin their run if they really want to; there are often mods to do it anyway.

A dev recently commented they wouldn't stop players from speed-running the game (I think it was Larian). They found it fun that people were looking for exploits.
I think the one thing I like least is the interface. The review only touches it. Yes, it looks nice, and yes, there are tooltips. But I think that doesn't go deep enough.

For example: The interface wont explain how your hit chance is actually calculated.
Wile the interface tells you how much damage each shot does, it doesnt tell you how many AP it costs to use it, making the first info basically pointless.
Yeah, I didn't want to make the review too long. :) I had more on UI and removed it, it's still 10% of the whole review.

UI's not perfect, but it shows and does more than most do. For ex, ATOM shows nothing, Vagrus explains nothing, none of the Infinity games showed that much. Only few bigger games like Pathfinder and D:OS have a better (much better) UI.

How the hit is calculated will probably be interesting when they tune the game; now it's pretty easy anyway and the % of success is shown during combat. The parameters that are used to compute it are known too, you just can't optimize them fully without the exact formula (but it would be quite complicated anyway).

AP cost is shown for each ability. Either hover it and it'll show on the AP bar, or it's written below the icon. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant.

You need to reload for each character manually and individually, and to make it more annoying the game also locks you out of any other action while reloading. So its reload, wait 2 sec until the character reloaded, switch to next weapon, reload, wait, switch, reload, wait and so on.
Reloading individually: it's turn-based, so it's normal. You have to reload manually because you can choose between that or select another weapon, at different costs; it's also used to unjam. Frankly I don't see how else they would have done it. All turn-based games I know have an AP penalty for reloading, too.

You can press SHIFT to make the animation much faster, helps a lot. :)

The interface completely fails in the inventory. Sorting through it is a pain. Yes, there are buttons to sort, but they are not working. If you sort for weight, you might have heavy items further down in your stash. You also cant have your "own" way to sort stuff, because the game will automatically sort things whether you like it or not. It will even re-arrange items if you just click through your characters. Trading is a pain, as you got all worn items mixed into your trade window. You cannot separate items by putting them on different characters. Items from your stash are not used when crafting. Hovering over an item slot will not show you which items you can equip in the slot. You split Items by doubleclicking (you can get used to that but who would think of such an unconventional way?).
While the interface looks nicer than something like Fallout or Skyrim, I think it's actually worse to handle as it doesn't really provide workarounds and you constantly run into issues and annoyances.
Oh yes, inventory is definitely not the best, but I wouldn't say it fails. It does the job, has some shortcuts and features like comparison & tooltips that others don't propose.

Shift + click to split, no need to double-click. Ctrl + click to move everything directly (in loot / barter).

It's often the worst part of any UI, to be fair, and there's a good share of loot to manage in Encased for the crafting. Here the inventory has the advantage of being shared, which is less hassle than in ATOM or Urban Strife, for ex, and the stash allows to keep a lot of stuff.

I found that using the filters helped quite a lot, but… yeah. Inventories.

When you get Ursula, it becomes so much easier to craft. :)

Anyway, just my point of view. Don't hesitate to post suggestions or remarks on their Discord, they listen a lot.
 
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Kordanor

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I think there were a few misunderstandings with my comments. ^^
XP exploits are common in many RPGs, it takes some time to remove all those spots. Ultimately it's not a real problem, up to the players to cheat/exploit and ruin their run if they really want to; there are often mods to do it anyway.

I am not talking about "complicated" exploits in any ways. I am talking about super obvious stuff. Like taking out a battery, putting in a battery, taking out a battery, putting in a battery.
Or: "Click, Inspect, click, inspect, click inspect, click inspect"
These give you level ups within seconds. This is something so obvious that it just shouldnt be in a release version of a game.

UI's not perfect, but it shows and does more than most do. For ex, ATOM shows nothing, Vagrus explains nothing, none of the Infinity games showed that much. Only few bigger games like Pathfinder and D:OS have a better (much better) UI.
But it's not about showing more or less. It's about showing things to you which don't help, or are incomplete. Because incomplete is not necessarily better than no information. It can be worse, because it sets you on the wrong path or makes it frustrating because what you think should happen doesnt happen. And the hit chance and the AP usage are just the prime examples.
Yeah, with the help of some viewers I figured out the formula, but until then I was constantly like "This doesnt make sense".

AP cost is shown for each ability. Either hover it and it'll show on the AP bar, or it's written below the icon. Maybe I misunderstood what you meant.
Yeah, once you got a weapon equipped and the skill learnt and you see the skill in your action bar you see the AP. But until then, for example if you just look at your skills and determine which skills would be useful - you can't. While you can see some values of a skill before learning it, AP costs are not shown. AP costs are however arguably the most important info.
If a skill does 150% damage of the normal attack, its still pointless if the normal attack only uses 1 AP instead of 3. These imbalances also occur quite a lot. I'd say that 80% of the weapon skills are never used as most often the base attack is the most useful in all situations.

Reloading individually: it's turn-based, so it's normal. You have to reload manually because you can choose between that or select another weapon, at different costs; it's also used to unjam. Frankly I don't see how else they would have done it. All turn-based games I know have an AP penalty for reloading, too.
Makes sense within combat. But what I meant is outside of combat. In other games characters would autoatically reload. Or you have a button to have everyone reload. Or you reload and can immediately switch to another character. Not in Encased.
In Encased you have to select one character and weapon, press reload, wait until the reload animation is done as the game basically "freezes", then switch to the next character (or weapon) and do the same, wait, and so on.
Or of couse you just ignore it, and go into combat with just 1 remaining shot in your magazine. But well…that would be stupid. :p

Shift + click to split, no need to double-click. Ctrl + click to move everything directly (in loot / barter).
Nope, Shift+Click only works in "normal" inventory (e.g. where you equip an item). It's pretty pointless there to split anything though. In the barter or loot window Shift+Click doesnt work. There you need to doubleclick.

When you get Ursula, it becomes so much easier to craft. :)
Don't know who/what Ursula is, so cant argue there. ^^
 
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Redglyph

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We'll have to agree to disagree because none of those has ever bothered me, and that's coming from someone who's played Pathfinder just before (and I'm quite picky :D).

Double-clicking, for example, works fine. I remember that in Solasta it was very finicky but I never had any trouble in Encased. You can drag items, too, which is pretty natural. It's strange that Shift doesn't work in barter, you should send a report from within the game because it seems to be an oversight.

Why would you need to know the AP cost outside of combat? That's when it's necessary. Some of it depends on other parameters, I suppose that's why it's not shown on the ability panel. But the hit chance and damage are, so you can see what parameters can be increased to get a better result.

If that's to plan the character progression from the start by tuning every parameter to get an optimal result, I think you may be overdoing it. There's a part of discovery like in any other game, so you can do that if you want once you're more comfortable with the system.

I don't have all my party members using guns, so I hardly noticed the reloading. One is using psionics and one hand-to-hand or melee. If that's really a problem for you, I'd suggest them a "reload all" functionality, or an automatic reload by the companions out of combat (at the risk of taking ammo you'd like to assign to someone else). They might find the idea interesting and it doesn't seem hard to add.

Don't hesitate to report the exploits you found either, that sounds like little oversights that are easy to fix.
 
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forgottenlor

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@Kordanor;. You can do this in any Elder Scrolls game and I've done it both in Skyrim and Morrowind. Sit in a guild, cast spells until your mana is out, rest & repeat. Its pretty boring, which is a hinderence in itself, but I don't find it more obnoxious than grinding out combats.
 
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Kordanor

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@Kordanor;. You can do this in any Elder Scrolls game and I've done it both in Skyrim and Morrowind. Sit in a guild, cast spells until your mana is out, rest & repeat. Its pretty boring, which is a hinderence in itself, but I don't find it more obnoxious than grinding out combats.

In Encased it's much, much faster though. This is super obvious and 0 effort. You get level ups within just seconds.

Why would you need to know the AP cost outside of combat? That's when it's necessary. Some of it depends on other parameters, I suppose that's why it's not shown on the ability panel. But the hit chance and damage are, so you can see what parameters can be increased to get a better result.
The thing is just that you get partial info. Partial info which is useless.
It's like if you asked me about the speed of 2 Cars. And I tell you Car 1 is 50km and Car 2 is 100km.
Now it's your job to sit in the car and see that Car 1 does these 50km in 30 minutes and Car 2 does the 100km in 2 hours. And if you assumed these would be per hour, you'd be wrong. Now...how much did I help with answering 50km and 100km?
In encased you have to have the skill and you have to have the weapon to have the skill in your action bar. Only then you are able to tell "ok, this skill is worthless, and so is the weapon".
 
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