Game Review: RimWorld

Credit: Ludeon Studios

Credit: Ludeon Studios

Rating: ★★★★☆
Platform: PC
Release Date: 15 Jul 2016 (Early Access)
Developer: Ludeon Studios

Meet Kitty, or Quinn Valentine as she’s otherwise known. Kitty is a rich explorer freshly landed on a RimWorld, looking to take on nature and tough it out against a strange and potentially harsh environment. Before we start, perhaps we should get to know her a little more.

At the age of 31, she is in what some might consider the prime of her life, originally growing up in her medieval home-world a slave, she became a factory worker in adolescence as the technology around her evolved. Her personality is described as being abrasive and psychopathic with a tendency towards chemical interest, perhaps similar to the stereotypical trope of a big business fat cat. Kitty is also incapable of cooking, creating art, or exploring the boundaries of technology.

So, Kitty is perhaps not an ideal candidate for galactic jet-setting on a course for the back end of nowhere, yet in RimWorld, all characters are made up of this mixture of attributes that make up their skills and story. The game itself can be said to be of a similar ilk as Dwarf Fortress, an in-depth management simulator which drives its own story. RimWorld though is far more accessible, with a reasonably intuitive user interface, simple but endearing graphics, and a ‘learning helper’ which gives not just basic instructions but insightful tips.

The game derives from Tynan Sylvester’s (the game’s creator) original idea to mix together FTL and Dwarf Fortress, which went through several prototypes and transformations from 2012 until late 2013, where the Kickstarter for RimWorld was born. Since then it has been regularly updated and sits in the same category as many other games, classed as in Early Access, but well polished and often updated. The main premise of the game in its current state is to manage your colony or tribe. This is done through assigning work priorities, planning and ordering buildings, obtaining sufficient resources, and defending your base from attack. To do all this you can recruit new colonists from captured prisoners, trade with other in-world (and later off world) factions, and harvest local resources. 

Credit: Ludeon Studios

Credit: Ludeon Studios

The reality of RimWorld is that you have a well-designed system of AI ‘storytellers’, Cassandra Classic, Phoebe Chillax, or Randy Random, who create the events that occur within the game. There are a good variety of events available at the moment (although I hope this is something that Ludeon Studios hopes to expand upon), such as cargo pods, trade caravans wandering through, raids on your base, and strange toxic fallout. Each storyteller can be tailored to the sort of game you would like, and have a sort of ‘personality’ as their names suggest. You’ll definitely be forced to harvest the organs of more prisoners to keep your colonists alive with Randy in control, compared to the ability to mine and build to your heart’s content with Phoebe holding the reins. Always remember, the most important thing is keeping everyone reasonably happy and healthy.

There are plenty of other nuances within the game which make it feel rewarding, and the diversity of the characters that you come across, both within your own colonists and the other factions can make for some memorable gameplay. It might be that Quinn ‘Kitty’ Valentine will stumble in to her long lost Mother on her adventure, and that her Mother, being part of a pirate clan, will be forced to murder her own daughter. It is equally possible that she might land as an escapee, and join Kitty’s new quest to discover the contents of that ancient structure in the distance, such are the possibilities for character interaction.

As for the future of the game, there is plenty of promise. As previously mentioned, RimWorld is regularly updated, with a healthy community. The steam workshop has been used to the full extent of its purpose, with mods filling potential gaps in the current gameplay such as Orion’s Hospitality, and others adding more features like the Extended Turrets Mod. Coupled with the ability to edit and create your own starting scenarios, RimWorld has a plethora of content that will keep you coming back for more. 

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