Dwarf Fortress is a storytelling engine as much as it is a game, spitting out associations and facts and details that you can shape into a coherent and specific narrative. This is also what we do to our own lives, personifying random events so that they feel significant rather than a matter of chance. Life isn’t usually a satisfying narrative. It isn’t so much that “Dwarf Fortress” is a perfect simulacrum of life, but that it shines a bright light on the human tendency to look for meaning in everything. I care about my dwarves because the stories I make up about their lives are also the ones I make up about my own.
First hours be like: what I'm even seeing on the screen? Is that enemy or environment? If this part is fun and you intrinsically want to play the game to get past that part to actually start playing the game (and, spoiler, end up modding the game yourself just for yourself), the said game is a blast.
Dwarf Fortress is, initially, a little daunting. Not because it’s inaccessible, but because you just know that it’s going to turn into a real time-sink. Is it the prettiest game around? No, but it’s wonderfully, ridiculously deep and a sheer joy to play. If you’re prepared to put the time in, Dwarf Fortress will drag you into its depths and you won’t regret it for one second.
There are games that are so groundbreaking that they define a new genre that other games emulate for years afterwards hoping to get a fraction of the magic that the original created. Dwarf fortress is one of those games that set the standard for a colony simulation genre that future games copy and rehash. It is a true labor of love and amazing concept that has evolved over time. You can sink 500+ hours and still not fully discover all the secrets the game has to offer. The best simulation game that currently exists and the family behind the development are so open to the game's struggles that you feel like part of the team over the years. It's been an amazing ride so far and I can't wait to see what the game looks like when it finally reaches completion. It will truly be a historic achievement.
I have only played the game that was recently released, I have not played the previous ascii version. Its a very impressive game considering how small the team is, but it simply is not for me. Its clear that it has been the backbone of other games I enjoy more in this genre (Rimworld for example), but the original is not for me. Its not too difficult, and in quite a few ways I find it easier than other city management games. My main issue is that with all its depth its rather clunky. Trying to optimize a sick base or build walls of the same material just takes too much time. While i see how much is in there, and there are plenty of game mechanics I have not explored, all I see so far is how mundane it is. I'll probably return to give it another shot in a couple months. Its definitely good, but the user experience needs to be improved by a lot. If I want to build 4 simple houses, it shouldn't take me minutes to drag and click on what I need, it should take seconds.
I do like this game and it can get very addicting. I think it may be better to wait until the game goes on sale. At the time of this writing, I have experienced multiple slowdowns and lag. There were a few times when certain functions would just stop working and would need to restart the game.
My biggest complaint about the game is the need to rely on external resources to understand how to play it. An in-depth story driven campaign would help so much to teach Dwarf Fortress to new players. Instead you have to figure out everything on your own. It would not be that bad but the game is horrible at providing detailed information that actually helps in resolving problems that arise in your fort. For example, I was about four hours into a new fort (with twenty hours of overall game experience) when all of a sudden my dwarves stopped brewing drinks, even though I had hundreds of seeds and plants, with a large cavern farm and ensuring none of the mushrooms were being made for food and had plenty of barrels. It would have really helped to have had an AI assistant or in-depth encyclopedia that could have helped identify the problem. Am I losing because of a bug or something I don’t understand? I don't mind losing, but do dislike losing when not knowing how to access the information needed to fix the problem.
The devs should check out games like Civ VI and its Civilpedia for in-game help, along with the optional guide AI character that will assist you in the game. Adding those types of features would go a long way with understanding the complexity of the game. Half my game time is me pausing to look up stuff on the wiki or youtube. There are just so many things you are left guessing about. I want to be able to click on an item and have a page show up like in Civ Vi and let me know about the item and how it's used. I would love to see a customizable AI assistant that warns you about problems and strategies to alleviate them.
I would say it is fun and addicting but not accessible; it is a very niche game. There is nothing wrong with that but do think it will turn off quite a few casual gamers. You just have to view looking up guides half the time as part of the fun, I suppose (I don’t; I want the game to teach me how to play). I do enjoy playing the game and think it is worth trying out; I just think it may be better to wait a year and when it is on sale for about fifteen or twenty bucks. By then, there should be much more content and patches provided for the game to make it worth the price tag.
I really do enjoy Dwarf Fortress, despite its flaws and lack of polish. I hope in a year or two I am able to come back to increase my rating of this game, but for now, 7/10.
Summary The deepest, most intricate simulation of a world that's ever been created. The legendary Dwarf Fortress is now on Steam. Build a fortress and try to help your dwarves survive against a deeply generated world.