I have been playing RimWorld Alpha 16 on and off since it was released and seeing as I have managed to clock over 100 hours in game I thought it was about time I wrote a review, especially seeing as Alpha 17 is due to be released soon.
Before I bought it, RimWorld had been on my Steam wish list for a number of months due to its similar aesthetic to Prison Architect and my love of base building strategy games. I was however dubious of buying it at its full price of £22.99; with a newborn baby that is a lot of money!
I was however talked into the purchase by a few friends at work and ended up adding it to my library about a week before it went on sale! Having spent over 100 hours in-game I can now say with absolute conviction that RimWorld is worth every penny I paid. I say this because I have played very few Alpha releases that can match RimWorld in the amount of out-of-the-box content and playability. RimWorld simply does not play nor feel as though it is an early access game and in-fact the developer has stated that:
“The game is already fully playable, balanced, and generally free of bugs. Over 120,000 players have been enjoying it since our Kickstarter in October 2013. However, we want to add more value before calling it done. We're doing Early Access to indicate that we still intend to add more content to the game.”
This is an impressive statement given how much time and effort has already been ploughed into this game by its developers. It really does feel as though they care about both the game and its players. More to that RimWorld has also been opened up to modding and on Steam there is a large vibrant modding community whom have quickly filled in the cracks of missing functionality or perceived imbalance as well as adding an impressive array of new mechanics.
Three mods for Alpha 16 stand out in memory as being almost another game on top of RimWorld and those are: Star Wars - Factions, Star Wars - The Force and Star Wars - Lightsabers. These were all, for obvious reasons, released on the fourth of May and together added substantial new content to RimWorld.
The game itself is a colony building simulator; out of the box it comes with three starting scenarios: the rich explorer where you start solo and with a lot of resources, crash landing survivors where you begin with a motley crew of three with some resources and tribal where you start with a hand full of people with primitive technology. There are of course additional scenarios available from the modding community that add additional flavour to the game.
There are a multitude of difficulty settings, from the very timid I just want to build a base to the extremely challenging I want to be flogged in my sleep with barbed wire. These are split between three different story tellers with each having different paths they follow while throwing different challenges at you.
The one part of RimWorld that really attracted me to buying it was the base building mechanism and rogue like character abilities. For the most part the challenge is building your base in the most optimal way so that you provide comfort to your colonists while also being defensible to the many, many different obstacles that come your way. These can be as minor as a mad animal all the way up to toxic fall out or bug infestations.
With Alpha 16, the global map view was added as well as the ability to set up a caravan of people to go and explore and trade. This added a whole new mechanic in that now you could leave your colony and attack, trade or resettle elsewhere. In addition to that this also meant that aside from researching and building a ship to escape, a new end game was made available though traveling the distance to a friendly ship hidden somewhere on the planet. This opened the game up to being played like a nomadic tribe with the challenge being surviving the many different biomes that you would need to travel through in order to succeed.
After about 60 in game hours I did begin to feel a little burnt out with the game, that could be more to do with playing it constantly over a period of a few weeks rather than any lack of content or challenge. Eventually I upped the difficulty to provide more interest which helped me push through to the 100th hour.
Alpha 17 is going to launch any day soon and I for one am excited to see what new challenges it will bring to the game. Even with the length of time I have been playing there is a large portion of the game that I have yet to experience. I haven't spent a great deal of time exploring different biomes or going on lengthy caravan excursions for trade or war. However with new versions of the game usually breaking previous save games I am going to wait for the new version to ship before playing again.