We live in a wonderful time, the age of the total renaissance of isometric computer RPGs. This beloved genre has managed to bounce back from the troubles of previous years and is now booming again as indie developers who grew up playing classic titles in the genre attempt to contribute in their own right. The game we're featuring today is currently in Early Access and only a few minutes of gameplay are enough for the player to realize that RPGs like Fallout and post-apocalyptic games of other genres like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. served as a foundation and inspiration during the development of Encased.
The plot and world of Encased combines elements of sci-fi, post apocalyptic and alternative history. In a different version of the 70s, the course of human history is completely altered due to the occurrence of a supernatural phenomenon called The Dome, a dome in which many bizarre events unfold and valuable objects of great value are discovered. The player is one of the ambitious or troubled souls who will enter the Dome in search of wealth, redemption, repentance or simply a new beginning, as a member of the Cronus corporation to which the governments of the world have entrusted the study of the Dome. In character creation, options of various classes are offered as well as the possibility of custom character creation, though I would recommend trying out one of the premade characters to start with in order to fully understand the levelling system and the importance of the various skills and attributes.
The gameplay includes the familiar combination of dialogue and roleplaying (with multiple opportunities to use your character's specific skills) with turn-based combat. The main quest is about discovering the true nature of the Dome while along the way you'll have the opportunity to tackle various sidequests, acquire new equipment and recruit companions. In the Early Access version I had access to the first act of the game which alone offers over 10 hours of gameplay, probably quite a bit more if you want to explore all the available areas. I played the act three times from the beginning, using different characters each time to evaluate how character attributes affect the progression of quests and whether the scenario changes depending on the choices I made in the dialogues. In general, the main quest follows a steady course with individual changes, while the sidequests offer more freedom in how they are resolved. Their conclusion even often varies drastically from playthrough to playthrough. It's possible that the same is true for the main quest but I wasn't able to find out just from the first act.
The combat system would be described as relatively simplistic but adequate for the type of game. The developers have already incorporated a wide variety of weapons and equipment of various categories (e.g. melee, light, heavy, high-tech, explosive) but during combat the best choices are generally specific and the placement, terrain or detailed strategy is not as important. Some battles with a large number of participants may get tiring due to the long duration, but generally speaking most encounters are interesting and flow quickly. Of course, great care is needed in sharing skill points so that you don't end up with a weak character. Prioritize combat skills because the world of Encased hides many deadly ambushes.
My overall impression of the game at this stage of development is clearly positive. Encased manages to achieve proficiency in all areas while the plot and role playing leave a lot of promise for something special. The final judgement will obviously be made in the review of the final release but at this stage I would recommend wishlisting to all fans of classic computer roleplaying games. The release of 1.0 is expected in the fall of 2021.