As a CRPG...what?...connoisseur?...I have learned to be wary of games whose manuals oversell themselves. Visions of the Aftermath: The Boomtown promises a game that presents "the laws of nature in an inter-active environment without seeming arbitrary or trite." The game, it goes on, "is designed to model life," with the map "designed to seem like places instead of squares." Through repeated deaths, it promises, "you are mastering skills which give you unprecedented control of such a reality."
Moving past the author's self-accolades, we find that Visions is a passable post-apocalyptic simulator, not light years removed from Scavengers of the Mutant World. When you start the game, you set its parameters and difficulty level and then try to achieve your goal while the game concertedly tries to kill you. In most scenarios, the goal is simply to survive a certain number of years.
The game takes place in 1995, some unspecified time after the bombs fell, and the player begin his life in a bomb shelter with random amounts of food and goods. If playing a game in which all you have to do is survive, there's really no reason to leave the shelter except that the food eventually runs out. Outside the shelter, you have to contend with erratic weather, radiation, scavengers, mutants, dwindling food supplies, and other trappings of post-apocalyptic sci-fi.
After a few deaths, I won the game rather easily by setting all the parameters to their easiest level and establishing the "win" condition as lasting only two years. I was able to spend about 14 months in my initial shelter. Ultimately, I had to leave to find more food, but I just found another shelter close by and spent the next 10 months there. It was something of a hollow victory:
The game is not a CRPG; its inclusion here is another MobyGames errata. It is, nonetheless, mildly interesting, and I can see how things like the health meter and the inventory could confuse someone as to its CRPG creds. Turn-based, it is meant to be played with other players against whom you can compete for the longest life and the highest score.
In harder games than the one I won on, you have to engage in a wide spectrum of statistics-studying and planning to survive. You watch the messages carefully so as to avoid going outside during storms. You stock up on fertilizer to grow your own food. You chop down forests for fuel and lumber. You scavenge for car parts so you don't have to walk around and get caught during meteor showers. You build generators to supply electricity. You meet other people and learn their skills. Or kill them and take their stuff. You find books and spend cold winter months reading them in your shelter to gain knowledge.
Combat is rather lame, consisting of simply exhausting your supply of arrows at your enemy and hoping that's enough. If not, the game lets you sheepishly trade with your enemies shortly after trying to kill them.
Ultimately, it doesn't add up to much. The best way to win--if not get the highest score--is to keep a low profile, remember shelter locations, cache resources, and use the environment. This might make it an interesting simulator, but it doesn't do much for a CRPG addict. So, having won at least one scenario, I'm giving it a ranking of 26 and moving on.
I realize that it wasn't much of a return posting after a two-week absence. But I trust you'll enjoy what's coming next: Wasteland!