Wasteland (1988)


Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
cRPG, Adventure, Open World Vintage (pre 1990) Interplay EA Post-apocalypse, Nuclear Holocaust, Sci-fi

Wasteland is a cRPG game set in post-apocalyptic Arizona-Nevada-California region. It has been often hailed as one of the best cRPGs ever and is also the spiritual predecessor of the much acclaimed Fallout series. It follows the story of a group of military personnel known as the Desert Rangers who set out to investigate reported anomalies around the Arizona desert region throughout various human settlements and camps. You travel around in 2D map, and encounter NPCs both hostile and benign as well as mutated monsters. Combat is turn based. You gather clues and follow them unraveling the story-line in a slow progressive manner. All along the way you gather experience and can raise your skills by investing experience points as well as by simply using the skills. If you like unforgiving and tight gameplay, and if you are fan of retro RPGs, and also you don’t mind wasting hours of hours getting frustrated again and again, then this game is for you.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0.5: Moderately complex
Complexity 1: Quite complex
Story 1: There is a story
Lore 0.5: Spiritual predecessor to Fallout series
Immersion 1: Role-play level
Difficulty 1: High
Learning Curve 1: High
Total Score 6/7: Heavyweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 3: Well met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 3: Well met
Destructive 1: Slightly met
Entertainment 1: Slightly met
Pace 0: Not met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 8/21: Good Game

Game Review

TL;DR A game that has not aged well inspite of its innovation and brilliance. Do not waste time unless you want to abuse yourself with deep sense of frustration.


  • Good story that keeps you guessing
  • Rewards creative thinking
  • Solid cRPG aspects of gameplay
  • Good immersion
  • Entertaining for its time (1988)


  • Bad save mechanism, you have only one save slot
  • Learning through failure, and once you learn it does not randomize or refresh the challenges
  • Laborious gameplay mechanisms (inspite of the macro short cuts)
  • Terrible interface
  • Repititive
  • Graphics that is not intuitive and often misleading

Game rejected. Could not bring myself to finish this.

Purpose – Study

Gameplay – Gameplay is terrible. Half of the time you simply have zero clues about what you need to do. And you just blindly keep bumping from here to there until you stumble onto some clue and with that you do more bumping around. You learn through failures but once you learn, you do not get any new challenges. For example, in one play-through you discover a password after lot of stumbling around. Eventually you end up dying so you reload, but next time you will no longer need to execute the stumbling around part for discovering the password anymore since you already know it from your previous play-through and the password remains same.

Graphics – The game is from 1988, so what can you expect anyways.

Performance – Can run on a walnut.

Entertainment – The story seems interesting and so is the story development, which keeps you hooked. Also, some humor and written violence. Written, because everything in the game is text based.

Plot (if applicable) – Seems like a good plot.

Replay value – I am not sure if there is any.

Immersion – Immersive enough.

Overall it titillates you with promises of good enjoyment, but fails to deliver due to myriad of problems.