by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
A Very Hooked Gamer
I cannot recall when it was that I last awarded a perfect score to a game. Have I ever? Probably not, and that’s about to change.
I joined the RimWorld bandwagon rather late. While hundreds of thousands where carving out new lives for their unfortunate colonists stranded on distant planets during Early Access, I was waiting for the game to reach 1.0. The reason? I knew I would be hooked. Better to be hooked on something that is finished.
And hooked I am.
The Challenges Of Colonizing
The concept of RimWorld is fairly simple. Your new colony starts with very little. A few packages of food, some shitty weapons, and a handful of building materials. That’s it. What there is plenty of, is danger. Danger from wild animals, disease, hunger, hypothermia, sunstroke… and that’s just the natural dangers. Roving bands and mechanoid creatures come knocking at your door on a regular basis, and it’s not to ask for a cup of sugar.
Some of the natural phenomena, like a crop-destroying coldsnap or poisonous fallout can be lethal to a colony in its infancy but with these you learn to deal after a while. Raids, however, intensify as your colony grows, or rather as your wealth does. Before long, the potentially game ending early melee skirmishes between raiders and your colonists will feel like a cakewalk, after you have your colonists walking around fully armored and armed to the teeth.
RimWorld excels at making you feel that there is a way to deal with these dangers. You just have to figure out how. Usually creative solutions get kick-started when multiple things go wrong at the same time. I remember vividly how the first heatwave threatened to spoil all the food in my painstakingly built walk-in freezer. I thought I’d doubled up on what it would need but the heatwave propelled the temperature inside from a cool -6 degrees celcius to a whopping +12. With the growing season just ended and winter around the corner, I panicked and opened up a wall section to place a third cooler unit. Big mistake number one. The temperature shot through the roof to +46! Mistake number two came into view as I realized that I did not have the proper materials, to build a cooler. Worse, I could not make them either. I finally scrounged together what I needed on the second day, and as the cooler was installed the heatwave passed. The lesson? Always have a contingency plan for the contingency plan of the contingency plan - especially when it comes to food.
These sort of surprises happen all the time. Events happen completely random but it’s almost as if the game has a sixth sense for when to throw you for a loop. I had an entire field of corn burn down because one of my colonists broke and started fires everywhere. I could have stopped her, but I was in the middle of an intense field battle with a group of raiding slavers. Not all events turn out to be negative though. During another fight, an enemy mortar destroyed the roof of my fridge. I pulled someone from the trenches and ordered him to repair the damage. Even if I could not really afford him to be away from his post, I could afford my food wasting even less. Almost at that exact same moment, a coldsnap hit and temperatures started to drop. Food saved, soldier back in the fight.
The Memorable Moments
I realized just how good RimWorld was when I started trying to share these stories with my friends. I excitedly told people around me about how I traded a bunch of simple dusters for a Psychic Emanator that was now calming my colony through psychic events that would otherwise make them crazy. My passion for the game has been mostly met with blank stares - not a lot of gamers in my circle outside of Hooked Gamers but that has not stopped me from sharing... much.
The variety in events is considerable and figuring out how to deal with each type is RimWorld’s bread and butter gameplay. Yet there is a lot of fun to be had with the elements that support your goal of creating a safe harbour for your colonists. Building your base involves zoning for storage and crops, building protective walls and regulating temperature within, and even leisure - happy colonists don’t set crops on fire!
Oh my, do I have a story about colonists that snap. A frenzied fight with a particularly tenacious group of mechanoids ends in a victory through clever use of EMP grenades and lavish “spray and pray” minigun action. Victory or not, the stress gets to cook/herbalist Jenna and she goes on an insulting spree. Craftsman Lerbor, on the brink of a mental breakdown himself, cannot handle the insult that his brother is a crook and explodes into a rage. The two start fighting, and Lerbor rips Jenna's arm off! She goes into shock, Lerbor cools off and drags himself to the sickbay. Another colonists rushes Jenna to the sickbay too where she is stabilized. She wakes an hour later, Lerbor in the bed next to her, and the two exchange jokes about sports. All forgiven?
An Absolute 10
Stories, stories, stories. RimWorld sets you up for an ever changing game in which only your engagement remains the same, potentially for hundreds of hours. And when you’re done with the vanilla version of RimWorld, there are thousands of mods that enhance or change the game in such a way that it is all fresh again. I am in awe of RimWorld, and it deserves a Big Fat 10 out of 10.
Deep, involving gameplay, unparalleled user created stories
You will lose yourself in this game, tell your friends to check in on you