Caves of Qud

Caves of Qud

released on Jul 15, 2015

Caves of Qud

released on Jul 15, 2015

Caves of Qud is a science fantasy roguelike epic steeped in retro-futurism, deep simulation, and swathes of sentient plants. The game weaves a handwritten narrative through rich physical, social, and historical simulations. The result is a hybrid handcrafted & procedurally-generated world where you can do just about anything. Assemble your character from over 70 mutations and defects, and 24 castes and kits - it’s all the character diversity you could want. Explore procedurally-generated regions with some familiar locations - each world is nearly 1 million maps large.

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exactly what i was looking for

50% of my steam playtime in 2023 was this game and that kind of speaks for itself. At this point, I have explored literally every nook and cranny, but discovering this game's secrets was an absolute treat.

I give this 5 stars not because I consider it to be some flawless "ideal game", but because it does something that I didn't consider possible: excellent procedural generation.

god this game is a rabbithole so deep if you can get into it.

caves of qud is an amazing RPG roguelike that has so much depth it can be overwhelming. I can always come back to this game as no matter how dense the mechanics are due to the urge to experience more

Caves of Qud is a classic roguelike with a very creative and evocative world to explore. Some structural problems don't really stop the character customization and world building from carrying this game to a really incredible experience that I will be following for a long time.

The world-building here is amazing, especially considering it is very procedural, stringing together a Gamma World sort of environment with generated factions and communities for you to explore and discover. The consistent themes of self modification (through mutation or technology), discovery (from ancient technology to the local recipe for soup), and collaboration makes the world of Qud an amazing and evocative one to explore. This also leads to Praetorian death squads warping into the map and killing you instantly on occasion, which can feel bad. The unpredictable, dangerous, and weird bend of everything around you does serve to keep you on your toes despite some structural monotony you can run into.

Structurally it is similar in a lot of ways to Tales of Maj'eyal. There is an overworld that is static from seed to seed but a higher level of fidelity than ToME makes every piece of this world generated and explorable. This ends up giving you a specific goal that is always the same while the individual places you explore, creatures you meet, and items you find are different.
I found this static structure to be the biggest weakness of the game. Creating unique builds and characters is fun but the actual experience run to run ends up feeling very linear and samey. You will always progress to Grit Gate, Golgotha, and Bethesda Susa and the experience of each will be largely the same. Like ToME, the level-based danger of these areas means you will probably go through the same steps to surmount them as well making the beginning of the game feel like rote preparation for these challenges.

Creating your character in Qud is in-depth but made simpler by a bunch of premades that give varied experiences and work well. Broadly you are choosing between a mutant or a 'true-kin' (full human able to install cybernetics), and then specializing in a number of abilities, weapons, or attack types. It feels as cool to put together a 4-armed freak with a turtle shell who zaps people with super-charged static electricity as it does to roll around the world cobbling yourself into a cyborg death machine from discarded ancient technology. There are a few things that feel like traps or vestigial remnants of old development explorations, but the constant rate of updates to this game sees many things get phased out and replaced with interesting new toys.

Qud is a beautiful game, going a step beyond ascii to a character set that is evocative, expressive, and interesting. The color palette works especially well here. I love the muted colors that are still varied and used expertly to delineate different areas, creatures, and dangers.
Some size wonkiness and wildly swinging threat levels can make things play a bit badly on occasion. It is weird to see a crystalline structure the size of a mountain that takes up the same amount of space as a snapping turtle. It can be a bad experience when a guy that looks basically like most other wasteland guys you see kills you from across the map with a high-powered laser rifle.

The sometimes weird balance aside, playing Qud is an experience that isn't replicated in any other game. This is the Dwarf Fortress of classic roguelikes and has as much depth, interest, and fun as you would expect from that description. Freehold Games has created a classic here and I expect it to only get better as they continue to expand and refine it.

A wonderful world full of secrets, interactions, lore, and most importantly, sudden and immediate death. Die by getting swarmed, die by stepping into a vat of electric eel-things, die by cloning yourself and having your clone disintegrate you. Die because you pissed off the wrong person. Die because you accidentally got in between an ally and someone they hate. Die because you teleported into a wall. Die because you forgot that vine-creatures liked your last character, but you started in a different region this time and they definitely want to kill you. Die because you forgot that you picked the spontaneous combustion perk as a joke. Die because you didn't realize that you can't fly inside a cave.

Die, die and pick yourself back up again. There's so much more to discover. So many silly little guys, so many silly little items, so much silly little lore. It all begs to be found. It all begs to be understood. And next time, maybe you'll know what to do.