Rimworld is a story generator. It’s designed to co-author tragic, twisted, and triumphant stories about imprisoned pirates, desperate colonists, starvation and survival. It works by controlling the “random” events that the world throws at you. Every thunderstorm, pirate raid, and traveling salesman is a card dealt into your story by the AI Storyteller.
There are several storytellers to choose from. Randy Random does crazy stuff, Cassandra Classic goes for rising tension, and Phoebe Chillax likes to relax.
That being said, since this story generator is just responsible for a series of random disconnected events, we cannot call this a real story, can we?
That is when things get interesting.
You begin with three survivors of a shipwreck on a distant world. That is how you are introduced to your initial situation. After that, the story basically revolves around you trying to survive these series of random events until you can acquire enough material and research to be able to lunch an escape spaceship to get back to wherever you came from in the first place.
Despite not having any line of thought, especially if you chose Randy Random as your storyteller, these events interact with you and your crew, influencing the decisions you take, the way you build and evolve your base and even the way you deal with your colonists. Deceptively, random event after random event, your story starts to build up. Its not a story of a hero and his quest, its not a elaborate and well written story, its a story of the life of your colony and colonists and how they keep surviving.
Each colonist that is created or introduced in each gameplay is unique regarding his set of skills, personality, injuries and desires – since the game simulates literally everything, even their relationships with each other, it gives the story an infinity of possible outcomes.
Add this to the series of animals / creatures you can encounter or tame, civilizations you can interact with, groups of bandits and pirates, natural disasters and spacial events and you can end up experiencing some crazy stories all together.
Just to give you an example, one time I was attacked by a group of pirates with shotguns. Luckily, my colonists managed to kill them all except for one shaman named Owl, which they made their prisoner. It was only when tending to the prisoner's wounds that they realized why they attacked – they were drunk. Turns out Owl was a alcohol addict (and the others too, I would assume) and was carrying a large amount of beers.
Since the capture, Owl went through a strict rehab program, which consisted in a closed cell with no access to any kind of alcohol. Later, he was convinced to join the colony. It turns out that Owl was a very good farmer and a real social guy. How about that for a story?
This example also goes to show that is easy for you to get attached to these colonists, which also contributes to giving more meaning to these events.
No, it is not a full fledged story built in the game, but its more real than most premade stories. You will relate to it, you will drive its outcomes and you will remember each game for his different and unique development.
Since this is a sim game, its gameplay is not revolutionary. It revolves around managing the colonist by telling them what and how to do things and prioritizing their actions patterns. This sounds very simple and straightforward but when you have to manage food, animals, constructions, psychology, ecology, gunplay, melee combat, equipment, climate, biomes, diplomacy, interpersonal relationships, art, medicine, trade, and more, things tend to get complicated.
Regarding the building aspect of this sim, you have several options, but in the end every game has to have his core buildings and areas – you can define where do you store your goods and junk and what goes into each storage.
Additionally, you can build walls, doors, temperature devices (like coolers for your pantry or heaters for your bedrooms). You can also build several different work stations that allows your colonists to cook, tailor, butcher and build a whole bunch of different items.
There is a whole tech tree to research that, despite the several option it possesses, feels very linear towards the final researches of the spaceship components. It is mostly meant to force you to prioritize, especially in the early stages of any colony, where your researches benches are more primitive and therefore take longer to progress through the techs.
You have the ability to toggle between 3 speeds of action – Normally the slower get things going in while you send your colonists to construct or gather something or even during combat, while the faster help you get through dead times, like night time or times were you are literal waiting for the new random events to trigger.
The only issue with gameplay is the lack of objectives and purpose.There is the final objective of building the escape spaceship, but until there you have no clear short-term challenge – sure, there are always new issues to attend, whether it is building new facilities or to attend to your colonists problems and necessities, but is is all sub-intended. Due to this lack of drive mechanism, sometimes it just feels you are speeding the game up to get to the next random events to see if it stirs things up, for a change.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
Regarding the audio, there is not much to say. There is one audiotrack that servers as the main soundtrack throughout the gameplay – catchy but not very attractive, it gets a bit tiring with time. All the audio effects as shooting and building are smooth and polished.
Graphic wise, I know what you are thinking: Rimworld looks a lot like Prison Architect, a game developed by Introversion Software studio.
It turns out the developers were asked about the similarities since at the time both games were in beta development. The developer Tynan Sylvester's answer was:
"I drew some inspiration from PA. More so from its own inspiration, Dwarf Fortress.
But they do look somewhat similar; that's my fault. I'm not a good enough artist to come up with a really good original look. There are only so many ways to render characters on a tiny grid without using animations.
I hope the differences between the game will be enough for people to look past the aesthetic similarities. And if I get some funding at some point I can get an artist to help develop a more unique look.
I do think the similarities are skin-deep. In gameplay the game resembles DF much more than PA."
Its a legit answer and the truth is their are right: there are not a lot of good ways to develop good graphics is art is not your strong point and you are starting an indie game with no resources. And yes, the games are very different in gameplay and foundation so that they don't feel anything close to each other. Even so, it would be nice if Rimworld had an art more in tune with the game's theme.
|+ Complex and detailed simulator||– No real long term objetive|
|+ Infinite amount of random events||– No original art style|
|+ Good replayability||– Random events are the only mechanism that drives the gameplay experience|
+ Huge development potential