RimWorld: Losing is FUN! (TM)
or… How I learned to stop worrying and love the boomrat.
Crazy thing… about an hour in to your settlement, your chest will puff up with pride, a single tear will roll down your cheek, and you’ll be filled with an urge to go tell someone all about it. This will be approximately two weeks in to your experience with the game.
If you’ve ever loved Dwarf Fortress, or if you like the idea of Dwarf Fortress, but wish it was a little more accessible, RimWorld might be worth your time. While it certainly isn’t without glaring flaws, I find over all, this game’s brilliant successes more than make up for them.
The gameplay, which, cards on the table, is the most important thing for me, is on point. I find most of their systems to be well balanced and interesting. Difficulty is extremely modular and customizable, and you should be able to find the right amount of challenge for yourself. Unfortunately, starting the game still feels a little cumbersome. Without downloading mods, you cannot control anything about the survivors you take with you on your expedition, aside from rerolling them randomly over and over until one fits your needs. EDB Prepare Carefully *helps*, but in my opinion, it’s too far in the other direction; it allows TOTAL control over your settlers, with zero limits. If the random rolls were a little more playable, that would help, or maybe if you could save certain survivors.
Visually, this game is a perfect example of aesthetics vs. graphics. The graphics for this title are pretty simple and plain, but aesthetically, it comes together very nicely. I do recommend some visual mods here- My favorite is one that recolors stockpiles. Excellent for organization!
The best part of this game is its accessibility. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve shown Dwarf Fortress, only for them to go ‘Oh, that looks REALLY complicated. I mean, cool, but REALLY complicated.’ RimWorld has a very well written tutorial to show you the basics, and then an exceptionally designed hint system, that warns you when you’re about to shoot yourself in the foot because you don’t know what a gun is. For example, I was building a sprawling apartment complex to combine my summer cooling units. The game went, ‘Uh, hey boss, I know that LOOKS more convenient, but if a fire rolls through here, your lack of fire breaks is gonna make this place light up faster than the end of Burning Man.’
And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good point, tutorial dude! Thanks!’
Essentially, after the first tutorial, the game offers unobtrusive tips, tailored around the activity you are currently performing, with suggestions based on what the game thinks you might be doing wrong. I found the tips to GREATLY increase my enjoyment of the game, and it’s the best handling of a help system that I’ve ever seen.
So let’s break it down.
Good: Fantastic ‘tribe management’ gameplay, with an emphasis on roguelike Die and Try Again strategies. Excellent tutorial system, and the mod community grabs this game from the ‘Good’ category and thrusts it violently in to ‘Unmissable’.
Bad: While the aesthetic is alright, the sprites do feel a little too similar. I do feel like the difficulty curve ramps up a little quickly on your first couple play throughs, but you’ll get the hang of it after a while.
Ugly: Character creation. Dear god, just let us express some preferences instead of spamming reroll over and over again.
Recommended Mods: Glittertech, Hospitality A15, Recolor Stockpile
Disclaimer: This is an Early Access review while using the Stable version of A17 for about 80 hours.
tl;dr: Rimworld is an Early Access game with no end in sight, but fun beyond measure and in my experience bug free. 9.5/10.
Rimworld is the kind of game that plays you as much as you play it. Nothing ever quite works the way you want, like two colonists not getting along to the point of brawling it out, or a winter that goes on a bit too long and killing your crops. But in all those random events and little things that constantly go wrong, you have your colony up and running and somehow make it another day, quadrum (season), or year.
The startup is easy enough, build a house, put in beds, plant some crops, and of course, make a walk in freezer the size of Texas to store your 100 potatoes. Then you defend from raids, killer animals, beavers who will eat all the trees, inclement weather, and later even mysterious technological baddies who make the Terminator look like a kindergarten teacher. And while all this is going on, you have to keep you sims (called ‘pawns’ by fans) alive, fed, and happy with their homes, bedrooms, and even the clothes that they wear. Pawns can be friends, lovers, rivals, and on occasion insult each other and start a battle of fisticuffs.
So there is a fair amount of micromanagement and depending on your storyteller (think: game mode) and difficulty the game can be between somewhat peaceful to an absolute nightmare. As you, the player, get better at playing the game and familiarizing yourself with the many (read: over 9000) different items, jobs, statuses, and more, the game can feel a bit dull. There are moments, game days, where you are on 3x speed just letting your pawns do their thing. But it’s ok because not every day is going to be a shoot-em-up with The Merchants, or a random conduit exploding. It’s actually moments like these that make you really sit back and appreciate your colony.
One of the most fun parts of the game is researching a new ‘thing’ that is going to revolutionize your base and you have to carefully figure out how to integrate it into your design. Or, realizing that you messed up and now you have to tear down the old and redesign your base. I had one such situation after a big attack when I had more than a few colonists who were injured and only had 3 beds in my hospital. I had moronically crammed my rinky dinky hospital in next to a river and blocked off all sides with crops. I had two choices: Either I could tear down my crops (thus hurting my food production going into winter), or I could tear the hospital down and make it somewhere else. I’ll save you the suspense, I built it into a mountain where it has plenty of space and I’m still not sure if I put it in the right spot. As dumb as that sounds, it’s a very fun aspect of the game.
Early Access is quickly becoming a four letter word in gaming. It’s almost completely synonymous with the concept of a game that will never reach completion. Or in the worst case scenario a dev will abandon the game, releasing an incomplete bugged out version. This game does not fit most of that description. And in my 80 hours of gameplay with A17, I haven’t encountered a single bug. While it’s clear that this game will be one of those games with an infinitely long pipeline, with no full product release in sight, it’s not a hindering factor. The reason is that this game has so much content and fun baked into this alpha version that I honestly don’t want them to ever stop adding things into the game. And what a game it is. 9.5/10.