After an interview, Tynan Sylvester, head of Ludeon Studios, generously sent me a link to download the pre-alpha press build for free. I sat down with it and originally, I only intended to play for a couple of hours. It was not until 1 AM that I realised that I had been playing for over four hours straight. Let’s talk.
I went into RimWorld a little too big for my boots. I had played FTL, Dwarf Fortress and Prison Architect (all of which have served as inspiration for RimWorld), and so logically, I would know what I’m doing here. As it so happens, my first colony, SP-001, was a complete and utter failure.
I had the smart idea of making of making one big room that all my colonists would share, and use some solar panels to collect energy from sunlight. The room was so big and open that the roof collapsed due to a lack of supports, which made the room very dirty and made my colonists unhappy (not to mention the fact that they all shared a room). Then, an eclipse came, and there was no more sunlight, which meant no more energy. This meant I couldn’t make the food I harvested into meals, and the colonists had to instead eat it raw, which they hated. A raider attacked, and my men all beat him to death with their bare hands, which traumatized them. Eventually, misfit after misfit led to one of them going insane and killing one of the others before being killed by the last remaining colonist. This last remaining colonist lost his mind, and wouldn’t eat or sleep. He soon died of starvation.
Needless to say, SP-001 was a tragic disaster. I was so involved in it that I forgot to take a screencap of what was going on, so you’ll just have to visualize the mess. So, what had I learnt? Number one : This game is difficult and unforgiving. If you don’t work hard on keeping your colonists alive, they will die, one by one. Number two : This game is quite different to Dwarf Fortress or Prison Architect than I thought. It’s a whole different beast, that I was going to have to learn to look at differently. So, I started up a new game, and named my new colony SP-002.
SP-002 was built very differently than SP-001. Luckily, I spawned close to a geyser, which meant that I had a constant, reliable source of power. I built a plant on it and started to work on the bedrooms. I made each individually, which not only prevented the roof from collapsing, but also was a lot more appealing to my colonists. I started a farm, built a paste dispenser, and started to mine into the walls for minerals.
I was soon attacked by a raider, which reminded me that I had to build defenses. Right now, there are only two defenses, one of which can only be unlocked through research. I put down a couple of auto-turrets and a few rows of sandbags. Oh, and the raider that attacked me? She was dragged in shame to a cell. One of my colonists, Alexis, was made warden of my mini-prison which I built for the occasion. I treated the prisoner well, feeding her, chatting to her, convincing her of the colony’s greatness. Before long, she was convinced that she had been wrong to attack, and was set free – on the condition that she worked for us. And with that, I had a fourth colonist.
I built a science laboratory, complete with a coms center and a research table. The research system in the game is not very good right now, I’m afraid. There are very few research options, and once you’re done, you’re done. However, it should be remembered that the game is in pre-alpha. The developer has promised more research options, and maybe even a research tree. Anyway, shortly after I built my science center, the game told me that raiders had landed. They had landed before, but never in larger parties than three. This group had eight people. I wasn’t prepared, and so I ran to the comms station, hired a former marine, and gave him a T9 – Incendiary launcher. I built another turret, put up some mines, and together with my colonists, we blew the raider scum to pieces! The combat system is pretty good. I haven’t seen many weapons yet, but of course, pre-alpha. Your guys take cover, as do the enemy. The enemy will try to flank you, and will actively be on the offensive. The A.I is good, but nothing really special.
Now, the psychological system is being pretty heavily hyped right now, but how does it fare? I am pleased to say that it’s good. Quite good indeed. You can see exactly what your colonist is thinking, his needs, his wants and his dislikes. Even though the game doesn’t provide you with a lot of material to personally care about your colonists, I found myself giving each one a personality that fit with his/her traits. It’s quite an odd feeling, and not one I’ve had since Dwarf Fortress. In fact, by the time this comes out, it may just be better than the Dwarf Fortress system, which was pretty damn good.
So all in all, it looks great. I felt so attached to my colony and my colonists, and kept playing not to see what happened next or what cool item I’ll find, but because I genuinely cared about my colonists. I wanted them to survive. I’ve played a lot of this game, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. And this is coming from a game in a pre-alpha press build! I’m really, truly impressed with what I see. Keep an eye on OnlySP for future news on this exciting new title, coming your way from Ludeon Studios.