Review written whilst game was in Early Access.
Features are subject to change, and it’s always possible that this review will become out of date with future updates.
Don’t be put off by the visual similarities to Prison Architect (something which gave me pause before picking up the game). Whilst a similar (or indeed almost identical) visual style has been used there are enough differences in the gameplay to set this apart.
RimWorld has an interesting core concept to it that will likely appeal to a number of different people. The default scenario starts with a small group of people marooned on a frontier world and having to survive in this hostile (and semi-alien) environment.
Before delving in a little further to the details, if you’re going to pick this up in Early Access I would strongly recommend that you make sure you’re happy with the idea of relying on the wiki and forums for information about the game. The in-game hints and tutorials are currently rather sparse and lacking in this respect. Hopefully, this is something that’s improved over time (although with Early Access there are, of course, no guarantees).
SummaryA solid game for an in-development project, but which has a steep initial learning curve and few tutorial or hints in the game. Check out online tutorials and the Wiki to get the most from the game. If you can live with that, then this game might be something for you to at least investigate further.
GameplayAfter selecting your colonists (at least in the default scenario) you’ll be dropped in to the first planet.
You plan out your settlement, set where you would like your colonist/survivors to dig or build, what to hunt, and leave them to get on with it.
It sounds simple as a first step, however, with the default scenario only giving you three to start with (each with their own sets of skills) it quickly becomes a delicate balancing act between creating the rooms for your characters to live in, the tools and equipment that they’ll need to survive, and the food that they need to live. It’s very easy to get this wrong and find that whilst you have created ample room for them to sleep that you’ve neglected to gather and cook enough meat to feed your characters so they’re now starving and eyeing up your precious dog Scruffy.
However, this does create a slight problem for the game. It’s most difficult when you’re starting out, but becomes easier later on as you gain more colonists and already have some of the buildings constructed. To start with there’s a desperate scramble to get a kitchen and sleeping quarters set up whilst trying to hunt for food, but later on when your freezer is stocked and you’ve got enough rooms to house an army of prospective settlers it actually starts to become significantly easier. The difficulty curve is (almost) reversed which gives new players to the game a rocky introduction to their first planet. (I really cannot over-state enough that reading the Wiki or watching some online tutorials is almost a must at this point; hopefully a lot of this information will be incorporated in to the game later in development).
Research, leading to new buildings and items, provides a progression as your settlement increases in size and we can only hope that as the game continues in early access there will be more content added to this (not that the existing content is lacking; but it could easily be expanded as well).
Later on in the game raids by other settlements, natural disasters, and more do provide some challenge for players who have gotten past that initial bump in the road. If you find yourself becoming stuck in the early stages of founding you colony, check out the wiki until a good tutorial/introduction is in place.
However, one of the few bug-bears that I have with the game is that you can only randomly generate colonists for the default scenario, each with strengths and weaknesses (or all-rounders). Unfortunately, there are certain skills which are almost required to start a colony (such as someone with the ability to haul raw resources around) so you will find yourself randomly generating until you have most of the key skills covered. Please, please, let me have random as an option for when I want that ‘hardcore’ approach, but also let me just customise the skills and select attributes on a points based system! I’ll get the same result by randomly generating them, but it just takes longer.
UI/User InterfaceThis is something that I feel lets the rest of the game down massively. It’s something to perhaps expect from an Early Access game. The layout and design of all of the buttons that you’re going to need to use feels un-intuitive and the hover-tips aren’t always all that useful. It’s an area where you really need to start to rely more on the Wiki and the forums to help understand how you get to the menu you need to (for example, to change which of your colonists will do which jobs).
Graphics/VisualsIf you’ve played Prison Architect and were happy with the visual style used there, then you’re going to be at home in RimWorld.
The visuals used to represent the world, the characters and animals in it, and the elements of buildings are clear and distinct enough for you to tell at a glance what is going on. However, there is perhaps some work to be done on the icons used for certain buttons in the game to make them a little more intuitive (this is hopefully an element of polish that will be added).
However, it is worth noting that if photo-realistic graphics are what you’re looking for then this probably isn’t the game for you. The screenshots available of the game are broadly representative of what you can expect from the game.
PerformanceI’ve had no issues in running the game. However, I am running with a PC setup that includes an i7, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 980 Ti. I can’t speak for how well the game holds up on lower specification systems.
BugsI’ve encountered a few here and there. However, there haven’t been any that have stuck in my mind as being particularly game-breaking or obnoxious. Again, with development in progress some bugs are to be expected.