RimWorld, a colony simulator from Ludeon Studios, has recently hit the Steam store with a $30 price point. The game isn’t exactly new, having been in early access since 2013. With the release of Alpha version 14, though, Ludeon studios had confidence it would be ready for a full release, and for good reason. RimWorld has emulated the success of games like Dwarf Fortress, and my first playthrough was quite eventful. While it may take inspiration from previous offerings in the genre, though, it’s a unique game.

My colony as part of this Rimworld Review
My Colony as it stands currently: note the graveyard on the upper left containing my fallen foes.

At first, the RimWorld was a bit difficult to grasp, as there was no real tutorial present. I found myself deferring to Youtube “let’s plays” to learn many parts of the game. The initial learning curve is a bit challenging, but once you get a feel for the game’s mechanics it all falls into place.

Once you’ve mastered the controls, you will find yourself captivated by the lives of your colonists. Each has a unique set of skills and various personality traits. This will cause colonists to have intimate relationships, rivalries, even to commit crimes. You will start off with relatively few colonists: three, to be exact. It will be that way for a while, but soon enough others will join your burgeoning colony, whether by choice or coercion.

Character traits and stats for this Rimworld Review
Each Character will have randomly generated stats and two or so traits. Some quirks will be positive, others detrimental.

Eventually, you will control enough colonists to make a small society, and with that comes a brand new set of challenges. Because of the amount of people, you will have to increase the standard of living to accommodate them all. Joyful activities will help alleviate the constant work stresses they are subject to.

Certain events will guarantee times of hardship for your colony, like a volcanic fallout scenario. If your colony runs on solar power (like mine does) you’ll see a decrease in the amount of energy production for quite a while, which will force you to either tough it out or pursue different energy options.

Events such as these can become more predictable or random depending on the A.I director you choose at the beginning of each game. You can choose from three different A.I types: Cassandra Classic, Phoebe Chillax, and Randy Random.

Rimworld's A.I directors, all three make for interesting experiences, though some are more interesting than the rest.
Rimworld’s A.I directors. All three present interesting gameplay depending on your personal style.

Cassandra assesses your colony and its capabilities, gradually increasing the difficulty of your experience. Phoebe is more focused on letting you build your base up and making a flourishing colony. On higher difficulty levels she can be just as challenging as the rest however. Then there is Randy, who will literally throw any scenario he feels like, regardless of how ready you are, or aren’t.

One issue I found early on in the game is that for a colony simulator, it can be at times very micromanagement heavy. This is evident in the food preparation and storage options in the game. Similarly to Dwarf Fortress, whenever you want something made, you have to issue a bill for it at the appropriate work space. You can ask for an item to be made once, more than once or even forever if need be.

Your cooks will only cook one meal at a time however, even if they have ample supply to make way more. This is time consuming and when your colonies get huge, and can become a massive problem. This could be easily fixed with a quick patch, or maybe even modded in.

Graphically, the game didn’t blow me away. It’s more about simulation after all, and the story told by your actions and the challenges presented by the A.I. Some extra visual polishing couldn’t hurt though.

As stated earlier, the game has been available on the game’s website since 2013, and as a result there is already substantial mod support. Most of these mods have already been ported over to the steam workshop. I expect even more mods to come now that the game has access to the wide audience of Steam.

In all, I feel this game is worth more than I paid for it. I expect that with future updates it could even withstand price hike, though obviously this wouldn’t be Ludeon’s best option. For now, I highly recommend RimWorld as an accessible alternative to Dwarf Fortress that retains the depth of the simulation genre.