Nothing can touch the Fallout series of role-playing games for post-apocalyptic immersion; the ’50s, atomic-era nostalgia and post-nuclear holocaust loneliness and horror that the games simulate have gained the series a huge and devoted following. But none of it would have been possible without a breakout 1988 computer RPG called Wasteland.
That’s because Wasteland and Fallout were both developed by the same outfit, Interplay; even though the original Fallout emerged ten years after Wasteland, it borrows heavily from the latter and can be considered Wasteland’s spiritual successor (Wasteland did indeed have an actual sequel called Fountain of Dreams, but it wasn’t developed by Interplay, and more or less tanked).
The Fallout franchise has since been handed to Bethesda Softworks, who’ve gone on to publish the stellar Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas console titles. But what about the original? Here’s where it gets interesting. Brian Fargo, the founder of Interplay, eventually left the company to form inXile — which is about to release a successor to the original Wasteland.
In the meantime, the game that started it all has just been re-released for $6 at Gog.com, the virtual shop destination for vintage games. I remember spending far too many days (real ones) wandering through Wasteland’s virtual, post-apocalyptic Mojave desert back in the day; the fact that titles are still being created 25 years later with the original game’s spirit intact is a testament to the vibrant storytelling with which Wasteland was crafted. Definitely one for the library.