RimWorld Early Access Review Header

Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: November 8, 2016

RimWorld is a top-down, town building, resource management sim developed by Ludeon Studios, that’s currently making its way through Steam Early Access. In a similar way to Dwarf Fortress (but far better visually) you are given the job of ensuring the survival of three randomly generated colonists. These colonists, all with their own skills, character traits and flaws have to build a colony to stay alive on the new planet.

We’re very happy to be able to take a look at RimWorld and see just what all the hub-bub is about.

RimWorld doesn’t really have a storyline, well not one to speak of.  Apart from a handful of scenarios which briefly describe your predicament, most of the story is written inside your own head. Considering your RimWorld inhabitants in the most part are going to virtually think and feel what they want to, they’ll write the story for you.  Though, whatever story you do write in your head it will all end when all your colonists die or they find a way off the planet.

The basic premise of RimWorld is to ensure the survival of your three RimWorlders by building a successful colony. A colony that will make sure you stay alive from harsh winters, pirate raids, solar flares and psychotic colonists, long enough for you to build your spaceship and get off the planet altogether.

When you start a new game, you are asked to select an area of the map to play on, and these vary quite considerably as they do on our own planet.  If you want an easier time of it, start on temperate flat land that will be full of good farming land and plenty of animals roaming around. Fancy a challenge? Try starting on the icecaps or a barren desert instead.

The next step is to randomly generate your followers. The three colonists that you start with are random and there are so many traits per character that you’ll never find a perfect one. Every element of a character is thought of. It’s not just their name, profession and skill statistics that are generated either. Some can be created with old wounds, drug addictions, aversion to or loved of certain things like lifting, fire, drugs, intelligence etc. All of these characteristics will then have an effect of how they act within the game.

The bulk of the game is all about building your colony and ensuring your survival. To start with you can build the walls of your colony and make sure that there are enough beds, and that they can eat. Maybe create a chessboard to stave off boredom, build a power generator system to supply your colony with electricity. Making sure to defend your colony from any pirate raiders who think it’s an easy target.

Of course, those are just the first elements of your story. RimWorld keeps your priorities shifting with each new challenge or disaster that’s thrown at you.  Not forgetting that your colonists have personalities and skill sets of their own. What if your main healer colonist gets attacked and seriously injured and the only other person with any skill can do nothing except amputate the limb. You’ve captured a pirate raider; do you execute him or try to recruit him? Winters approaching and everyone’s in rags, yet you have no cloth or leather to make new cloths.

Researching newer technologies and items is also critical if you ever want to move out of your wood houses with mud floors, and build a spaceship to get you home. Although, considering the first step is making stone blocks, you won’t get there quickly.

RimWorld Screenshot 1

The graphics and sound of RimWorld are not going to cause you to hyperventilate from their brilliance. Although, much improved over the ASCII characters of Dwarf Fortress, you are still looking at a top down icon graphical style. Although having said that, the visuals are clear and each element of your settlement is distinctive from the others so it’s not confusing or off-putting.

There are many different levels of difficulty, depending on the AI storyteller you’ve chosen and the difficulty. The AI storytellers indicate the level of random disasters that occur within the game and how often they happen. Cassandra for example, will give your story a steady increase in difficulty, while Randy Random means that anything can happen at any time. Each of these AI storytellers will then have five levels of difficulty depending on how brutal you want the game to be.

Because of the type of game this is, you might have to restart several times until you get to grips with how things are. I ended up really screwing myself over as I was learning. One colonist had her leg ripped off by a boar because I didn’t realise I could tell her to attack it. I let a fire from a boomrat devastate my colony because I didn’t realise I should tell everyone to firefight it and not just the one person. There are saves and auto-saves, but sometimes you just want to go again and bring what you’ve learned to a new colony.

RimWorld has this in hand-crafted bucket-loads. When you tire of one game and wish to start another, there are loads of things that you can do differently. The layout of the map can be re-generated, using any seed you want. I’m using ‘ZombieChimp’ as a seed at the moment. You will have to randomly generate new survivors, and the chance of you getting exactly the same survivors again is ridiculously remote. You could also try one of the other scenarios, like starting with only one survivor. There are plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

In the latest update they brought in animal taming and drug addiction, so it’s an every changing world and we can expect even more to be added by the time it finishes Steam Early Access.

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