Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead (CDDA) – A Free Post Apocalyptic Zombie RPG Game

Step Into the Zombie Apocalypse

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, or CDDA, is a modern roguelike undergoing rapid development. It currently features top-down ASCII or tile perspective and a rich GUI. Like most roguelikes, it uses keyboard-only input (touch on the Android, obviously) with many commands, and simulates more real-life information than any other roguelike currently in development. Features are added continuously (most recently the devs added dairy farms, for all your post apocalyptic milk needs), and CDDA has a very dedicated and active community and corresponding subreddit.


CDDA features many of the classic roguelike elements like permanent death, procedural generation, character stats and development, top-down perspective, turn-based play, a hunger system complete with nutritional requirements, and, of course, high difficulty. It is widely considered difficult to learn, but is one of the most polished and immersives games on the market – open source or AAA. It also includes a handful of very unique systems, including:

An Immense, Comprehensive Crafting and Construction System

Cataclysm features the most comprehensive and immense crafting system currently available in any game. Many of the best items in the game are available only through crafting, and a survivor would be hard pressed to survive without the item creation screen. The system covers everything from clean water (water + boiling vessel + heat source) to makeshift pipe guns (hacksaw + pipe + mechanics skill + two-by-four) to complicated chemistry and bombs. Much of the players time is spent finding, making, and using items for crafting, and recipes are learned either through skills or books. Characters can also construct buildings from scratch with the proper tools and materials. Cars, trucks, tanks, and more exist and can be built, modified, or destroyed in-game.

Welcome to the Evac Shelter. You’ll spend a lot of time here.

Mutation and Bionic Systems

CDDA features fully developed, unique forms of character development through its mutation and bionic systems. Characters are able to choose traits that affect abilities and characteristics during character generation at the cost of points that could otherwise be spent on skills, profession-based equipment, and stat points. However, all but a few of the trait effects, both positive and negative, are available later in the game from bionic modification and mutation. Functionally similar, both bionics and mutations change the intrinsic character traits. The effects can be positive, negative, or both. Without the proper skills or genetics, characters implementing physical and mental modification or mutation can expect some seriously negative repercussions.

Overworld with Modeled Cities

Cataclysm generates full, detailed over and underworlds during world creation. Features include caves, shops, mines, cities, gas stations, vehicles, evacuation shelters, and much, much more, as well as unique, apocalypse-related fungal zones, triffid dens, and others. World generation is highly (even dauntingly) customizable, meaning the player can choose to spawn worlds ranging from empty glaciers to infested metropolis. Seasons, precipitation, and temperature are also modeled, so player strategy and equipment will vary according to the world and season, as well as time of day.

Final Words on CDDA

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead stands as perhaps the most comprehensive real-life simulator for post apocalyptic survival available. The learning curve is crushing, but the community over at the CDDA subreddit are always more than happy to help new players. An open world, thriving community, detailed simulation and crafting, and active development place CDDA as one of the most beloved and well-built roguelikes currently available, and it offers thousands upon thousands of hours of playtime to any player willing to learn its secrets. The game is free, and installation tips and instructions can be found in our article on installing CDDA.