While at first glance this game appears to be an RPG, it is really much deeper than that. Visions of Aftermath: The Boomtown starts off as you emerge from a fallout shelter, following a nuclear exchange. You have no instructions other than to survive; but before I talk about the in-game elements, I will first reveal to you how to get into the gameplay.
To start with, you can either create a world from scratch or use a pre-made one (to my knowledge, the only pre-made world that comes with the game is called "MAX"). When you make a world, you get to choose various things that make the world harder or easier to live in, such as the number of players you'll have, the type of world it is - jungle world or suburbia, for example - which all affect the types of resources available, and the game type, which ranges from everyday survival to the interesting 'King of the Hordes,' which I'll talk about later.
From there, you get to choose effects that will impact your world and make the game easier or harder, such as global warming and rain-creating swamps, which will greatly affect your prospects of survival. After you generate your world, you can 'investigate' it using a main menu option which will give you a basic overview of your map, including rivers, forests, and so forth, but provides no information as to the player's position: this you discover for yourself.
Okay, time to play the game: It starts out in your fallout shelter, and gives you a list of supplies, such as food, fuel (very important), herbs, books, arrows (for fending off pesky creatures) and other survival necessities. In your shelter you can make things, shuffle your inventory, and sleep, along with many other activities which become available as you progress in the game.
You can also 'go outside' your shelter into the post-apocalyptic wasteland, where you'll notice your exhaustion, radiation level, and life spent (lack of health) meters slowly go up, and the supplies you have on you, such as food and fuel, slowly go down, which brings about another neat part of the game: everything is in real time when you travel over the world, which means it's not wise to just sit in one place!
You'll come across other shelters in your travels, which also provide places to hide and sleep, as well as places to restock your inventory! These scattered shelters will be your primary means of survival as you travel about the place, until you finally find one of the most important things in the game: A book.
No, not The Hobbit, silly, a book which will enable you to rebuild the life you once knew, to recreate civilization from the dust, and so begin life anew! Books hold knowledge on life before the war, and provide you with vital information, such as how to build roads, which make travel far easier, how to build shelters, the medicinal purposes of herbs, and all sorts of other things, as well as teach you how to make better items in your shelter!
At the end of each game month (when one 'sleeps over' in a shelter) the overall score of your player and any other player is displayed, showing how well you are doing in the game. It also shows you how much water, or fuel, a shelter receives, which is usually only a little. One wants to preserve fuel as much as possible, because even though it seems like you start with a lot at the beginning, it can run out very quickly.
Your basic means of survival are hunting for food, cultivating fields, and, if you have 'King of the Hordes' turned on, staving off striped apes and other unruly scavengers that threaten your well-being with arrows and other means of defense.
The Boomtown was a simulation meant to be the first in a series of adventure games that never quite took off, but it still offers a unique experience for anyone willing to deal with what is sometimes uninformative gameplay!
All in all I give the game a 3; it offers interesting gameplay, but lacks the atmosphere and depth some people strive for in post-apocalyptic games.
Run BOOM.EXE in DOSBox, not BTCGA.EXE or BTEGA.EXE. Those two files are turned on in-game from the main menu when you decide to run the game in either EGA or CGA (I recommend EGA!)
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