The Defective Inspector goes native and reviews the finally-properly-live RimWorld from Ludeon Studios...
This is a game I have been dodging to review for a while. It’s not because the game itself was good or bad, simply it was stuck in development for almost 5 years. Despite the long term, the title has consistently remained interesting and the creator active in patching/updating. As of mid-October RimWorld finally reached 1.0 status, effectively drawing a line under what Ludeon Studios considers complete. So now it is ready… I am ready.
RimWorld is a sci-fi colony sim driven by an AI with a range of personalities. Inspired by RTS/Micromanagement games like Dwarf Fortress; RimWorld focuses on the singular story of your own little colony. The most obvious difference is RimWorld is all about survival in a less than stellar environment. Your settlers are flawed, your resources will be diverse and the events are relatively chaotic. One second you’ll be taming local wildlife to obtain wool cloth, the next robot mechanoids are coming for your spinal cords. Self-defined as a “Story Generator” each game is about how your people arrive, grew and left the planet simply known as RimWorld.
Usually in reviews I like to give a general feel for gameplay, but it will be hard to cover everything with a game like this. You start off in a variety of standard scenarios, ranging from relatively secure technologists to a naked man hiding in a hut. Either way your multiple (or singular) settlers are assigned traits, skills, passions, genders, injuries, addictions and much more. This variety can be altered to some degree but the final result will be the same, a ragtag group with barely enough skills between them to endure. Your tactics will be shifted before the game even starts! You can also decide on an AI, each with their own particular way of “telling the story”. Think of them as a physical person behind the random number generator, they can be cruel or kind digital gods and it can be difficult to reliably predict. There was something oddly pleasing about having a name to swear at when a tornado appears and runs through my cornfields…. If they can even grow in time before winter!
The RimWorld is generated by a seed value and thus it’s unusual to find the situation familiar. You can manually pick through multiple terrains or accept a random location to try your luck. Once again variety spices up your life as each space can contain roads, other factions, mountains, rivers, different materials and OH I could go on. Let us accept that once more, you are given an excessively large amount of variety. While that can be overwhelming when first playing there comes a time where it almost becomes second nature, you know what you want and you PICK it. Be that specific stone to make a work of art or jungle to train the local monkey population to fight your battles.
So you’ve created your people, great, your game finally begins! You must build some sort of base, while this part of the game is reliably straightforward it all begins to get complicated the more you play. Depending on the scenario you decided on the starting stockpile will vary, but the important steps remain the same. You need to build a basic base, find a food supply and make decisions on how to survive your situation. The complications of reviewing this become clear because there are seemingly infinite ways to survive RimWorld and infinite situations to deal with. You could cultivate the land, feed your people and sell the excess to passing traders. Instead become a pirate, load up on weapons and take what you need to get through each passing season. Maybe you’re more heading towards research, ruling the planet with a technological iron fist through bionic implants and ruthless power. The only constant is that the game technically ends when you leave RimWorld, which can only be achieved through excessive study and hard choices. That is where RimWorld shines the most, in the YOUR choices. Let me share a few with you, maybe that will help?
I once tamed a bunch of “Boom Rats”, strange animals with sacks of flammable liquid grafted to their skin. I bred them using some rice I grew in a nearby field and held off most invaders. I did this by sending them into battle, encouraging the enemy to shoot them down and thus explode in their face. I basically took the approach from the movie Wanted but with medieval feeding methods. On another game I focused on sculpting wood statues, most of my colonists had a flare for art and so their sculptures were worth a lot of money. Through them I could buy all the food, guns and slaves I could ever need. It was like being Andy Warhol in a Mad Max environment. But you can go darker, some of your colonist may have an affinity for human flesh and thus actively encourage butchering prisoners and wearing their skin as clothing. Well… Not before harvesting their organs to sell on the black market. I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, it’s all about variety and choices.
I am fawning over the game, and the praise is well deserved. Despite a good 200 hours of gameplay I still feel like I am scratching the surface. That doesn’t mean the game is without flaws. The graphics are left purposefully rudimentary as the creator heavily focused on coding and interweaving these complicated elements together. It’s also important to know this game will never go down in price, Ludeon Studios has bravely made it clear the price is what it is, and no sale shall alter that. Since they developed and published the title, they do indeed have that power! Some maybe upset by that, it’s not the cheapest game out there, but you must respect that kind of approach. Ludeon knows the value of RimWorld and will not compromise by a single penny.
The oddest part of RimWorld is how easily mod-able it is and thus, how heavily altered it can be. Frankly I felt RimWorld was almost too complicated at times so to do more than what is expected blew me away. This bare-knuckled indie developer has a cult following and so I can see new mods coming out every other week at bare minimum. Truthfully the versatility of the game will allow some exceptional modding talent to shine and ultimately… Well… RimWorld may remain an immortal favourite for years to come.
In my closing thoughts I want to be direct. RimWorld is an exceptional game, it is so very rare a title is simple enough to run on almost any computer while also being complex enough to keep even the ardent micromanager busy. I mean come on, they even allow for DRM-Free download through the website! If you buy any game this Christmas, bite the bullet, harvest an organ and forget your humanity. The RimWorld has no use for it. However… If you need any pointers on HOW to play, come see me on Twitch. I do love an audience 😉
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Images from Steam