Shacknews has put together a new feature entitled "Warning: No Instructions Included", in which the editor yearns for the days when game manuals were big, informative, and necessary. They also go on to take a closer look at several stand-out game manuals over the last two decades. First up is Fallout:
Mixing humor with a dark, post-apocalyptic setting, Interplay's masterpiece RPG Fallout stands the test of time--and its manual is no different. Titled "Vault Dweller's Survival Guide," the book begins with extraneous statistics of the underground vault your character has inhabited since the nuclear holocaust, listing everything from budgetary sums to typical power requirements. This is followed by a detailed, multi-page synopsis of the effects of a nuclear blast. These cold facts effectively introduce the heavy, lead-laden atmosphere that pervades Fallout.
The humor comes in later. A few pages after the nuclear holocaust bonanza, the guide suggests additional publications, such as "How To Eat Rat--15 five-minute Recipes," and "Coping with Mr. Virus! Featuring the latest Super Ebola Quarantine Techniques!" The classic Vault Boy character is used as a model for many instructions, such as illustrating the skill of paper latrine building, which resides alongside less useful combat techniques. Actual cooking recipes, for treats such as the delectable "Mushroom Clouds," round out the package.
Throughout the manual, certain paragraphs are obscured by notes left by the ominously named "Overseer." We don't know who he is yet, but the manual presents him as a shrewd, focused character, who seems intent on your success. Instead of beating you over the head with a dull cast list, Fallout's survival guide is a perfect example of how to pull off a subtle introduction to the story in a non-traditional medium.