Among the current crop of settlement management games, a key and growing theme is conflict against an escalating threat. In Dwarf Fortress it’s everything from fell beasts from below to goblin armies at your gate. In RimWorld, you fight bandits and roaming robots. In Judgment: Apocalypse Survival Sim, you’re leading a handful of regular modern-day humans against the fire-and-brimstone demonic apocalypse itself, and all the armies that the underworld can throw at you. Today, it officially launches after two years in early access.
Conflict is a far stronger focus in Judgment than other games in this burgeoning genre. Your goal isn’t just to hold out or to escape, but to retake territory and carve out a new human kingdom in an increasingly hostile world, all while fending off regular demonic raids. In between the usual building of houses, raising of livestock and clothing your people, you’ll be performing arcane research, enchanting weaponry and planning incursions on a larger-scale regional map.
While your camp is out in the middle of some inconspicuous woods, (fallen) civilisation is where all the metal and guns are, so a key part of the game is organising scavenging sorties into enemy territory, and expanding your knowledge of what’s around you on the (procedurally generated) main map. It’s the kind of stuff that I’m especially looking forward to in State of Decay 2 later this month – that marriage of expanding your world, all while having a distinct home, the growth of which hinges on the success of your expeditions.
While admittedly not the prettiest management sandbox in town, Judgment has been well received so far, both on Steam and on YouTube. The more combat-oriented and asymmetrical nature of the game lends it a tactical edge, and players who want to keep their settlers alive will use the ability to pause combat frequently to make sure that the vulnerable or wounded are kept well out of harm’s way during combat. It’s something I’ll definitely have to make time for at some point in future, although for now, I’ll just experience it vicariously through strategy-focused streamers.