You will probably first hear this game compared to Dwarf Fortress. It’s like that, accept it’s also easy to get into. It doesn’t take too long to learn how to accomplish the basic things you need to do.
This is a survival game first and foremost. So keep that in mind! food, shelter, and defences.
But this is not like Dwarf fortress in some key areas. The simulation is not as fully-detailed under the waterline here; but the user expeirence doesn’t miss this complexity much. Z-levels don’t exist here, but that reduced complexity allows it to become a deeper experience in other ares. Here you have a lot more direct control over your little people. God-like, even. This allows for some effective squad-based tactical combat, and lets you tell your dwarves…I mean colonists…to complete any given task immediately, instead of relying on the AI to decide to get around to it eventually.
In many ways, the individual colonists seem to have more character, more interesting and more ‘life like’ than in DF–and not just because of the graphics. A character has a background history that colors their aptitudes, and then they have traits-a sociopath in this game is actually the minmaxer’s dream, because they never get jealous, rarely get upset, and are not bothered by the sight of human carnage, corpses, etc.
Which leads me to another big difference: while dwarf fortress can get dark, this game can get DARK. As in: capture prisoner, harvest their organs to sell on the black market, torture them to death and then butcher and prepare their meat as food dark.
It’s a game that will bring out your inner sociopath. It’s a lot of fun.