Once in a while you run into a game that has teeth. Degenesis is one of those games.
Everything about Degenesis communicates a single vision. The artwork and layout work seamlessly with the bleak nature of the setting and the deadly nature of the combat system to create a consistent whole. Degenesis is not a game for kids, and while it is well suited to stories about hope in the midst of the apocalypse, many people who want to go around playing superheroes that kick ass and take names right off the bat might not enjoy this as much.
I feel that the CatharSys system that powers Degenesis is a fairly robust set of mechanics. While I still have issues of the moving target numbers slowing down the game somewhat, it isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch. The Vitality mechanic in particular is a great way to stress the desperation of combat, and how people can’t just give 110% all the time without needing to catch their breath. I’ve yet to see the whole thing come together for larger combats, but what I’ve seen so far is pretty good.
The setting has a lot of potential, and with strange villains like the Psychonauts and the struggles between the Thirteen Cults, there’s plenty to see and do. People who despise metaplot will be happy, I believe, as the game presents its setting as more of a sandbox, where GMs can start shaping their campaigns around what they feel they can work with best. There are some big names mentioned, but few have been given formal stats giving the GM leeway with regards to just how important (or insignificant) these NPCs are.
I can’t help but feel that we need more games like Degenesis. Ones who aren’t afraid to give a dark setting that doesn’t pull punches. Delving into the nature of human depravity (and the horrors of alien entities corrupting human minds and bodies) is something that most games shy away from. Perhaps a lot of other companies shy away from the idea of limiting their audience, but there’s certainly something to be said about games that take this risk. I’d also like to add, that nothing in the book feels like a cheap way to get a reaction. The violence and nudity is treated in a mature manner that speaks well for the designers and authors who took the risk without it being the central come-on of the book.
I would definitely recommend Degenesis to those who are looking for a different sort of post-apocalypse game. With a well rounded setting, and a host of opportunities for getting into conflict (whether against Nature, or mutants or their fellow man) Degenesis offers a unique take on the often cookie-cutter post-apocalypse genre.
If you’re interested in picking up a copy, Degenesis is available via DriveThruRPG in PDF format for $15.00 or roughly Php 645.00, those interested in a hardcopy can also order one via DriveThruRPG’s Print On Demand option as well.