(Full Disclosure: the writer has backed this game on its orig­i­nal Kickstarter project page which can be seen here [ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tynansylvester/rimworld ] and can be pur­chased here [ http://rimworldgame.com/ ] for $30+, with a va­ri­ety of tiers de­pend­ing on what you are will­ing to in­vest into the game’s fu­ture. This re­view uses the 8d build of the game.)

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Just an­oth­er day in the Colony

Rimworld, Dwarf Fortress… IN SPACE (sort of)

Rimworld is pro­grammed pri­mar­i­ly by Tynan Sylvester (Ludeon Studios). The sound­track is done by Alistair Lindsay(Defcon, Darwinia, Prison Architect), and graph­ics are by Rhopunzel (Starbound)

 

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Home sweet Home

Rimworld’s game­play, like oth­er Dwarf Fortress clones, is con­trolled en­tire­ly from a com­plete­ly top-down per­spec­tive. It is a semi-RTS, semi-The Sims life sto­ry gen­er­a­tor and semi-Fortress builder. The game has no dearth of mishaps and tragedies to suf­fer upon your colonists. Some of the game’s AI Storytellers will glee­ful­ly use them to wreak hav­oc upon the colony at the worst pos­si­ble times, while oth­er AIs will al­low your colony to grow and pros­per for a more The Sims-like ex­pe­ri­ence.

You des­ig­nate tasks for your colonists to ful­fill, and they will do them in a First In, Last Out task-line de­pend­ing on each colonist’s par­tic­u­lar skills and abil­i­ties. In this sense, it is very much like Dwarf Fortress, but, where in that game the con­trols are ar­cane and byzan­tine, the con­trols and GUI for Rimworld are much smoother and have far more rec­og­niz­able graph­ics for those un­will­ing or un­able to play Dwarf Fortress. That is not to say this game is less com­plex than Dwarf Fortress. It has its own dif­fi­cul­ty spikes and curves, and it is played en­tire­ly along two di­men­sions. Compared to DF’s mul­ti­plane, multi-floor game­play, this game is more fo­cused on sur­viv­ing as a small­er colony, rather than as a multi­gen­er­a­tional dwar­ven com­mu­ni­ty. Colonists live and die, cre­at­ing their own lit­tle sto­ries for you to re­mem­ber and for them to pass on in the form of art. Making sto­ries to tell oth­ers of your colonies is where Rimworld shines.

But first, let me tell you of a colony and its res­i­dents I chose specif­i­cal­ly to make it hard­er on one par­tic­u­lar playthrough.

Histories of Avarice & Diligence

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This ugly fel­low is the one most DF play­ers will be com­fort­able with

You start with three colonists. Compared to oth­er DF clones, this is a pit­tance. However, this is not a prob­lem for this game be­cause it makes you in­vest far more emo­tion into each in­di­vid­ual as they go about the tasks that you set be­fore them to en­sure their sur­vival. But the life of each colonist is frag­ile, and they will each get hurt, wound­ed, dis­mem­bered, and even die. Yet the colony will go on. Each has a group of back­grounds that de­ter­mines their skillset and is com­plete­ly ran­dom­ized for each colonist, per­son­al­iz­ing them fur­ther. Additionally, each has at least one trait or com­bi­na­tion of up to two that makes them in­di­vid­u­als.

 

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The Scientific Term for this lo­cale is Coldasballs

In the colony I am do­ing for this re­view, all three share one trait in com­mon: they are can­ni­bals.

The first colonist, Arseny, was a cave­world tun­nel­er be­fore be­com­ing an urb­world (in-game term for a 1st World Country-Esque World) en­tre­pre­neur. He is good at min­ing and so­cial mat­ters but com­plete­ly in­ca­pable of sci­en­tif­ic re­search. He is also a can­ni­bal and the sec­ond el­dest of the three.

The sec­ond is Cagla, or Canim as her nick­name was cho­sen. She was a fright­ened child grow­ing up and be­came a space min­er. She is ex­cel­lent at min­ing, con­struc­tion, and cook­ing, but she is in­ca­pable of stop­ping fires. She is also a can­ni­bal and the old­est of the three.

The third is Avila. She was a cave­world ten­der, grow­ing mush­rooms be­fore she de­cid­ed to be­come a bar­tender. She is ex­cel­lent at min­ing, cook­ing, and grow­ing food as a re­sult of her back­ground but is lim­it­ed to not much else. She is stead­fast, the least like­ly to break men­tal­ly out of all the colonists, and is a can­ni­bal.

Strike the Earth Planet

Once Rimworld starts prop­er, with sup­plies, food, and weapons drop­ping all around you, your three colonists hit the plan­et in sur­vival drop-pods and make plan­et­fall. In my game, they made plan­et­fall in a tun­dra zone, re­cent­ly added in the lat­est up­date, and were re­ward­ed with cold tem­per­a­tures that caused them to near­ly freeze to death. The game fea­tures full at­mos­pher­ic tem­per­a­tures; hot and cold and will pe­nal­ize your colonist’s moods if they’re out­side of their com­fort zone.

As it is hard to break old habits, I im­me­di­ate­ly craft­ed a small cab­in next to a moun­tain­side and pro­ceed­ed to bur­row into it. With three min­ers, this pro­ceed­ed well. Meanwhile, a fire was made in the cab­in to keep the colonists from freez­ing to death.

Food is a con­cern, es­pe­cial­ly ear­ly on and es­pe­cial­ly in nor­mal­ly freez­ing ar­eas. You only start with a few days to rough­ly a week of sur­vival ra­tions, and it is up to your colonists to se­cure fur­ther meals. In the tun­dra zone, meat is scarce and pota­toes have dif­fi­cul­ty grow­ing. But, see­ing as all three colonists were can­ni­bals, this would be soon be rec­ti­fied.

Fridge of a thousand corpses
Fridge of a thou­sand corpses

Security is a con­cern, so the colony must de­fend it­self. Each colony starts with a num­ber of weapons; in this case, a ri­fle, pis­tol, and knife. Three days af­ter land­ing, a lone ma­ni­ac pi­rate at­tempt­ed to as­sault the colony by him­self. He was prompt­ly shot in the knee, and his ad­ven­tur­ing days were over. Normally, at this point, you are sup­posed to cap­ture your at­tack­ers and stuff them into a prison cell, and then pro­ceed to use Stockholm Syndrome to con­vince the sur­vivor to join the colony and de­fend it from fur­ther at­tacks. Normally. But to­day, the bar­tender killed him and the colony would be able to eat for an­oth­er few weeks.

After es­tab­lish­ing a meal dis­penser, food be­came less of a prob­lem. Thanks to the low colonist count, how­ev­er, the game kept send­ing slave ves­sels and drop­ping off oth­er sur­vivors of oth­er crash­es in an ef­fort to bump up my colonist count. However, I was strict­ly go­ing to avoid the is­sue of oth­er colonists suf­fer­ing from join­ing up for three rea­sons:

1) Eating peo­ple makes any non-cannibals feel ter­ri­ble and makes them more like­ly to go crazy or leave.

2) Having only three colonists makes for a ter­ri­ble econ­o­my, with the only thing to trade be­ing the weapons of dead at­tack­ers.

3) Why pay for can­ni­bal take-out when the dead pile out­side the base?

Despite this, Rimworld was adamant that I have an­oth­er colonist and gave me Tina, a lazy, prostho­pho­bic star­ship jan­i­tor who grew up as a scout. Not the worst of prospects — she was the only one that has so far start­ed with craft­ing skills above three. The colony still need­ed win­ter clothes in the forms of parkas. This will be im­por­tant in a lit­tle bit.

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“Unfortunate”

The game’s butch­ery and leather cre­ation sys­tem are com­bined into a sin­gle ac­tion, al­low­ing your hunters to spare a bit of time cre­at­ing both food and cloth­ing ma­te­ri­als. However, the only meat and leather so far to have graced the colony in any large num­ber at this point were pi­rates, na­tives, and out­landers that died due to un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances.

Long sto­ry short, this is how Tina, the only neu­rotyp­i­cal mem­ber of the colony, be­came the first colonist to craft hu­man leather parkas.

Gruesome craft­ing sto­ry aside, the game’s craft­ing sys­tem is won­der­ful. It is a sim­ple point, click, and build af­fair that so far only al­lows the cre­ation of a va­ri­ety of melee weapons and cloth­ing out of sev­er­al ma­te­ri­als grown, mined, and trad­ed for via the sim­ple trade sys­tem.

The sound­track is a haunt­ing, western-themed mileau that is var­ied enough to pre­vent ir­ri­ta­tion. It is all at once quirky, breath­tak­ing, and as­tound­ing.

Rimworld is a sto­ry gen­er­a­tor full of tragedy, tri­umph, and sur­vival. One mo­ment your en­tire base is cov­ered in flames from a bro­ken pow­er con­duit; the next a pod with a sin­gle sur­vivor falls from the heav­ens (not at all) ea­ger to be put to work. This is Rimworld in a nut­shell.

Exploring the sur­round­ing land yields re­wards if you can sur­vive the dan­gers. There are some­times cryp­topods (think the pods in Alien that the crew climbed out of) scat­tered across the land­scape, and each one con­tains an an­cient sur­vivor of some long for­got­ten crash or colony. Or rav­en­ous bee­tles. The sur­vivors, hav­ing just es­caped what­ev­er tragedy had be­fall­en them be­fore en­ter­ing the pods, are also no­tably con­cerned with be­ing brought out of their an­cient sleep and will re­act vi­o­lent­ly.

Rimworld has enough ma­te­ri­als in its al­pha state to en­sure sev­er­al hun­dred hours of game­play. The con­trols are ex­cel­lent, most­ly re­ly­ing on the mouse with some key­board short­cuts as well. My biggest gripe with the game is that there isn’t an ad­ven­ture mode. Further, hav­ing a well es­tab­lished colony makes one thing ap­par­ent: there needs to be a bit more for the colonists to do. Often I would spend hours with my colony just farm­ing pota­toes and fight­ing off pi­rates, with lit­tle else to do but wait. The cre­ator has added in art craft­ing to help mit­i­gate this, but it’s still ap­par­ent, es­pe­cial­ly with high colony num­bers, that there needs to be a bit more to do.

There are tiers that one can pur­chase with the game as well, with bog stan­dard al­low­ing you to have the game (and all fu­ture up­dates), fol­lowed by adding your (or a character’s name) into the game for $45. Further tiers in­clude adding more char­ac­ter names to the char­ac­ter data­base, in­clud­ing cus­tom his­to­ries, and adding your­self as leader of a pi­rate group for the more ad­ven­tur­ous in­vestors.

Furthermore, there are is­sues with colonists not hav­ing sea­son­al wear sched­ules; a friend of mine’s colony has four dis­tinct sea­sons, and he has found that it is a chore to switch out each colonist’s cloth­ing to match the sea­son.

These gripes aside, the com­bat sys­tem, craft­ing sys­tem, and trade sys­tem are ex­cel­lent, and I would hope oth­ers mak­ing games in this sort of vein would take note of what has been ac­com­plished in Rimworld—if only for the sake of the GUI favour­ing crowd of Dwarf Fortress gamers.

Final Thoughts

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Histories of Violence & Bloody Messes

It is a graph­i­cal­ly im­proved Dwarf Fortress clone with tac­ti­cal melee/ranged com­bat and a mid-tier dif­fi­cul­ty curve. It fea­tures a pletho­ra of weapons rang­ing from the ne­olith­ic great bow to ad­vanced plas­ma ri­fles and mini­guns, and it fea­tures no less than four dif­fer­ent en­e­my types (as of this writ­ing) for your colony to be at­tacked by. The graph­ics are in­spired by Prison Architect, with small amounts of vi­su­al per­son­al­iza­tion avail­able to each colonist.

I must ad­mit, I am look­ing for­ward to fu­ture up­dates from Tynan Sylvester, and I’m look­ing for­ward to a prop­er re­view for Rimworld.

Writer plays Dwarf Fortress, Majesty, Mount & Blade: war­band and cur­rent­ly is play­ing at­tempt­ing to culture-form Scandinavia through viking wiz­ardry in Crusader Kings

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Michael Campbell
My name is Michael Campbell. I am a bud­ding writer, pro­duc­er, and the content-manager for off-site opin­ion pieces. I fo­cus on Early Access Game Reviews, Traditional Games Media (Primarily Pen & Paper Role-playing Games), Steam Games, Origin, and Indie Titles. My in­ter­ests in­clude draw­ing re­al­ly ter­ri­bly, run­ning far too many RPG games a week and hor­ri­fy­ing my co-workers and friends. I also get re­al­ly an­gry on Twitter at in­jus­tice. I am also like­ly go­ing to be­come a fix­ture in the ed­i­to­r­i­al sec­tion of this site, due to the above anger. You can reach me at M.Campbell@supernerdland.com if you have ques­tions or com­ments; As well, you can reach me @EvilBobDALMYT on Twitter to see some of that anger in mo­tion.
Michael Campbell

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