Sometimes good things come in very simple packages. This is very much the case with RimWorld, an early access game courtesy of Ludeon Studios. While very simplistic in its look, there many storytelling mechanics that make for a very fun and unique experience.
RimWorld is part base building, part survival game, with just a dash of The Sims mixed in. You play a colony trying to survive on an unknown and sometimes inhospitable world. Currently there are 3 starting scenarios which determine how many colonists you start with, what technology you have access to, and the resources they posses. You have the choice to run with the randomly generated colonists that the game assigns you or you can randomly reroll their skills to make a more skill balanced colony. It won’t be easy to have a series of specialists however, since there are 11 skills which are all useful and no matter what, you will find certain holes in your colony. So for example, you might have a combat heavy colony, but when you aren’t fighting off the raiders on your planet, you still need to grow food, construct buildings, conduct research, cook food, and mine materials. Thus, having a few party members that have specialties but an overall good skill base is pretty important.
Each colonist is unique too, not simply a set of static numbers. They will have different personality traits, jobs they will not want to do, or relationships with other colonists. So while you may be looking for the perfect shooter that will be able to hunt and kill enemies at range easier than breathing, they may also end up being a nudist, who will not help with any of the other colony chores outside of killing and is also the ex-lover of another colonist. This dynamic really gives each character a unique feel and keeps them feeling fresh and new each playthrough.
Once your colonists are made, its time to jump in. You pick a place to settle your colony, which you get to choose from a large overland map. From here the game is wide open. The tools given to build your base are wide and varied and depending on the resources in your area it will change your strategy for how to effectively build. But while you are building and planning, you can only direct your colonists so much. They are reacting to your commands but also to the environment around them and the situations they are in. If you have characters that have abrasive personalities they will naturally quarrel with each other which may lead them to disliking each other, or even fighting. On the other side, colonists may also fall in love with each other or even marry. Additionally, there are other colonies on the map that will occasionally try to trade with you or attack you. These can lead to bloody battles which are not necessarily visually impressive but have some tactical nuance that keeps them entertaining each time.
In my experience I have had a good amount of marriages, and a few great rivalries and fights, and it’s really the stories that are the crux of the RimWorld experience. In the latest playthrough that I had, I was playing a lone survivor who had built a base and had been steadily accumulating a merry band of survivors. Some joined voluntarily, others had been captured during raids by my enemies and eventually converted to my cause. However, one day while digging graves for the bodies of my enemies after a particularly savage raid, my original colonist and one of the original recruits began to talk. Things apparently turned sour very quickly as they devolved into fighting. Normally these things end with both people sleeping off their bumps and bruises but on this day my original colonist ended up being killed by the bear hands of his fellow colonist. The murderous colonist stripped my leader, took his rifle and clothing and stuck him in one of the graves they had just been digging together. When he returned to the colony we were now down a man who was also held a few key skills that we needed, which led to certain jobs not being done as well. In addition, it set some of my colonists into a depressive state since their friend had been murdered. This led to another one of my colonists to have a mental break and unfortunately she was a pyromaniac and chose to relive stress by burning things. In this case, she lit a wall on fire and the blaze grew out of control til it consumed a good chunk of my colony rooms with some of my colonists in it. Just as we started to clear the debris and recover what we could, another group of bandits raided us, and slaughtered the survivors and that was the end of us.
This is just one of many stories that will be found throughout RimWorld. Each is unique because of the AI based storytelling and character personalities. No 2 playthroughs will be exactly the same, making replayability through the roof. I have yet to have an identical experience, and I have already logged over 50 hours in game. At this point, the game is already really addicting and we can hope for many improvements in the coming months as the game progress from early access to full release. I for one am extremely excited for the continued growth and can’t wait to see what other stories my colonists experience.
Check it out on Steam!