Sheer panic grips you as the alarms sound wildly all around you, your console is lit up like a spazzing christmas tree on the fourth of July. In your view screen looms a rocky, harsh planet that's rapidly becoming bigger. Your ship is going down and there is nothing you can do about it. You and your crew rush to the escape pods. A blinding flash, a sickening crunch and suddenly blackness. As you swim to the surface of consciousness and look around you see the few survivors and the harsh landscape that has suddenly become home. Where are you? A group of large fuzzy animals are stampeding away from the crash, trees smoke and crackle with fire, a beaver sits looking at you from….wait….a beaver? What is this Canada? You stumble to your feet and look around. Unfortunately for you there will be no igloos, no Tim Hortons and certainly no clinics with free health care. You're not in Canada, you are on a planet at the edge of the galaxy. You have crash landed on a Rimworld, and you are in very big trouble!
At it's core Rimworld is a game of survival with a good mix of combat, mystery and misery thrown in. Your only real goal is to survive and get off this planet...or don't it's up to you. At the beginning of your game you chose one of three starting scenarios along with a narrator who will dictate your odds of survival and how much you're about to cry (Editor's Note: What is this? Dark Souls?). Will you take on the group of three survivors from the crash above? Or will you lead the band of five tribes people whose home has been destroyed as they set forth into the unknown? Or perhaps you will be the possibly insane rich investor who has voluntarily stranded himself on this Rimworld. All three provide their own challenges. The crash survivors start out with fewer people but more technology available up front. The tribes people have more helping hands but more mouths to feed and less technology. And the lone rich guy, well he has all the supplies money can buy but this world is not easy to survive in alone.
The narrator you choose will dictate how many events you face and their severity. One will start you off easy but will steadily increase the difficulty until you're calling red alert more often than Voyager in Borg space. One will give you lots of time to prepare in between but won't hold her punches and really loves to kick you when you're down. And the other really doesn't care, he's going to give you whatever he thinks is fun, whether you're ready or not.
Once you've chosen your scenario and level of masochism it's time to chose your location and your people. Your starting location will dictate how long a growing season you have, your chances of disease, wildlife and the types of rock available. Be warned, you are not the only group of flesh bags on this planet. There are other factions and towns already in existence. Some friendly… some not so much.
The people you select are just as crucial to your starting location. Just like in real life no one's perfect and everyone has good points and flaws, it all depends on what kind of flaws you can live with. The super soldier might have a bad back that makes him a grouch or the farmer might have an addiction or is missing an eye. Every person has a trade off. Every pre-existing health problem or severe injury sustained within your colonists life will affect their work output and their mood. If a frag grenade destroys your engineers eye he's going to be a lot less effective and in pain until you can design him a new one. Depending on your technology that new eye can be anything from a wooden eye that makes him look a little like a pirate or an advanced piece of technology that will allow him to rival Geordi La Forge (I've been binge watching Star Trek, don't judge me!).
With your people selected and the clock to your impending doom started, it's now time to begin the base building aspect of Rimworld. Your starting scenario will dictate whether have access to things like electricity right off the bat. As you research and progress through the game you can move from a hunter gather society to a well dressed, gun toting civilization. As your people become more skilled they create better items faster and surviving gets a little easier. But be warned, your circumstances can change in a flash, literally.
During my first playthrough I had the pleasure of watching my wooden base burn to the ground during a dry lightning storm. Then they got ambushed by raiders and… well… that Rimworld got a new ruin. The next game I played I had the foresight to build stone walls as soon as I could, but stone doesn't save you when a cold snap and a blight wipes out all your food. You could go full cannibal but I was early in the game and not that committed. Often Rimworld follows the law of three and you can be coasting alone feeling like you have everything under control and suddenly you're desperately foraging for berries and sleeping on the ground. The unforgiving nature of the game is part of why I love it.
Nature isn't the only danger you'll face. Each of your people has needs and if those aren't met they will have mental breakdowns which can include the sort of funny binge drinking or the not so funny brawling. Each member of your group will have different social ties to the others. Your vet might despise your soldier while trying to make amorous advances on your engineer. The housemate might fall in love and marry the gardener. These social ties make your people happy but can also create discord so manage your people wisely.
As you progress in technology and secure your food and weapon capabilities you can start opening diplomatic negotiations with other nations. Or you can arm a war party and end their sorry existence on this rock. Each action you take towards another faction will gain or lose reputation. Become hated enough and you'll find yourself being constantly raided and attacked. Act friendly and they'll send you trade caravans or help you out in fights. This flexibility is something I really like in games. Rather than following a set story line I can become a mini dictator or a beacon of charity and trade, it all depends on my mood.
In terms of graphics, lovers of the incarcerated nation called Prison Architect will definitely recognize the simple graphic style. All buildings are seen from the top down and are one floor. All the sprites are sort of like chubby chibi people who move like they're riding segways and all the animal sprites look like hover kitties. The simple graphics suit the game well since they make base building and crafting simple.
I have honestly been waiting for a game like this for a long time. It combines the knack of Don't Starve for killing you off in a different way every time you play with the base building of Prison Architect and the resource management of Banished. Despite being an early access it already has a fluidity and complexity of a fully launched game with few glitches and enough content to keep your interest. Just like with Prison Architect, the modding community on Steam is already adding hours of gameplay including auto turrets. I've tried to glitch the game by loading multiple mods and founding three settlements with a large population. It slowed down a little but there was no catastrophic failures which means the coding is already solid.
The menus can be a little cluttered at times with the addition of these mods but overall base building is easy. To create items each crafting bench has bills, like a queue of of items to be created and in what priority. There is a lot of flexibility in this system since you can set limits of certain items or resources, ask your people to craft only a set number and then stop or ask them to continuously create a specific item if the materials are available. Combined with storage zones that are fully customizable, it makes supply management easy.
Combat can be a little clumsy but I think that's more of a me thing than the game since I tend to get stuck in stupid situations. There's a cover system allowing your people to duck behind barriers and trees adding a tactical angle to the whole affair. There's also friendly fire. So if your people aren't side by side be careful especially early game when most of your minions can't hit the broadside of a barn.
Like many games of the genre, Rimworld suffers from the "what do I do now" hump about mid game where you're not really sure what to do next. Hopefully as the game is developed new content will take this away. The ability to create more than one base and to move around the world has already gone a long way towards that.
All in all Rimworld is definitely a time sink you should add to your library and I look forward to many more hours of tears...
Article by Breanna