Homeworld and its sequel have been available on gog and steam for a couple of years now. Both games have been remastered and put together in a bundle that also includes their original versions.

Today I found myself idly wondering if Cataclysm was also available in some form. Turns out it appeared on gog back in June, under the new name Emergence. The “Cataclysm” trademark now belongs to Blizzard, who used it for a Warcraft expansion back in 2010.

I’m glad to see Cataclysm isn’t forgotten, since I always thought it was just as great a game as the original. It uses the same engine and is very similar in many regards; it was regarded as more a standalone expansion than a true sequel. That’s why the next Homeworld, not this one, got a “2” in the title.

However Cataclysm very much establishes its own identity, with its core theme of a rag-tag fleet put together by miners. Unlike the efficient professional military of the main games in the series, here you command a motley collection of converted industrial ships, purchased technology and improvised weapons.

So you get kamikaze fighters that disguise themselves as enemy ships, and insidious little drones that clamp onto enemy vessels and chew through the hull. The destroyer is ugly and boxy but brings three different weapon systems, ready for any battle. The most entertaining unit though is a frigate that rams into ships and shunts them through space, great for disrupting formations and putting enemy capital ships out of a fight for a minute.

Also rather than being a big static factory, here your mothership can move and shoot stuff. It’s not a match for a dedicated battlecruiser, and you’re screwed if you lose it, so you have to be cautious in how you deploy it. Yet its increased utility plays into that idea of everyone having to get their hands dirty, in any ship that can fight.

Cataclysm hasn’t had the remastering treatment, since Gearbox can’t find the source code. I’m not sure that’s a terrible thing though. My attempt to play the remaster of HW1 was brought to a screeching halt by balancing issues (that early mission to save the cryo trays was far tougher than it used to be). Even without the any modern enhancements there’s still something particularly graceful about the graphics, with the fluid 3d motion of ships, flickering laser beams and missile trails against a backdrop of stars and nebulae.

So this still carries my recommendation, and it’s well worth $10 on gog.