Genre: Survival Strategy Colony Simulator
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
Release Date: October 17th, 2018
Edited by AlexKnight2005
When you think Survival game, you generally think of your one character surviving in an open world with nothing but their wits and what few supplies they can scrape together. However, there is a subset of survival games that shouldn’t be ignored, which has you trying to survive with a group or colony of characters, instead of with a single character.
In Rimworld, you have your group of survivors that comprise both your workforce and your responsibility. Rimworld is much more of a traditional survival game, however. Rather than having a ticking clock
counting down to a catastrophe you must survive while the game tells a story of hardship and adversity, Rimworld just throws challenges at you. That’s not to say that Rimworld doesn’t have any possible
endings. The game does have two options for your colonists, leaving the planet and achieving victory that way. Getting to that part, however, will be a grueling challenge under most conditions. You could be enduring enemy attacks that could have you fighting off anything from tribals with primitive weapons to advanced mechanoids with deadly claws, rocket launchers, and heavy auto blaster cannons. You could be dealing with a toxic fallout event that kills all of your outside crops, and slowly kills any of your colonists that spend any extended time outside of being under a roof, or just putting out the fire
started when one of your electrical conduits shorted out. The number of possible events Rimworld can throw at you is mind-boggling and ranges from mundane to catastrophic. The AI storyteller is there to
make sure that the events being thrown at you don’t get too catastrophic too quickly… but if you want to just throw yourself at the mercy of the great random, you can always still just pick randy random as your storyteller. It’s all just drama to him.
The game is played in a top-down view, where you get to look down on your colonists and direct their activities. You can direct them to construct buildings, mine, cook, hunt, or craft, and even take direct
control over them to have them fight off raiders or other enemies. Your colonists, or “pawns”, have some degree of autonomy and will choose what they will do based on their AI priorities. You do have a
pretty free hand to tweak their priorities, and can even turn on or off the pawns’ ability to choose certain jobs. This becomes extremely important when you have a surgery that you want to be performed and don’t want anyone, but your highly skilled doctor performing the surgery… or when you don’t want anyone getting in the way of your highly skilled researcher being able to use the research desk. Pawn’s skills and traits are randomly generated, and a pawn with 15 points in Intellectual skill will research much faster than one with only, say, 5 in that skill. Similarly, a pawn with a high skill in Plants will be much quicker and have a much higher harvesting success rate than one without. All pawns will improve by doing, however. A pawn with 0 skill in mining might not know which end of the pickaxe goes toward the wall, but they figure it out pretty quickly, and even faster if the pawn has an interest in or passion for mining. Overall the system works out pretty well; skilled pawns can be set to specialty jobs, and even if you can’t find one that is highly skilled in a particular necessary skill, you can usually find one that is at least interested in the skill, and have them practice until they’re good at it (and in the case of certain jobs like Cooking, hope they become good at it before the entire colony comes down with a bad case of food poisoning!). To survive and progress, your pawns are going to need to research technologies, trade with other colonies and passing space traders, mine, craft, and build. There is a surprising amount of depth to the game, and it’s up to you as the player to plumb those depths and learn what it takes to survive on the rim.
The main difficulty of the game comes from just keeping your pawns alive and happy. When a pawn dies, that’s it, it’s over for that pawn. Since the game is all about directing your pawns to do the work that
needs to be done to keep themselves alive, having all of your pawns die is a definite failure condition in the game. This becomes more difficult than it sounds to avoid, especially when the storyteller
decides to line up several potentially fatal events one after another. When your best shooter is down with a case of malaria when a raid arrives, you have to decide whether it’s worth it to risk him
eventually succumbing to the disease by adding him to the defense, or whether the defense is capable of holding without him. Is your food stockpile healthy enough to wait out a volcanic winter event, or do you face starvation unless you can quickly implement an indoor greenhouse? Will your only skilled physician recover from the infection he contracted when a mad squirrel attacked him, and there was
no doctor around but, himself to try to treat his own wounds, or will you have to have an unskilled pawn try to amputate the affected limb before the physician succumbs? The AI storyteller will usually make sure that events don’t spiral out of control too quickly, and after you get hit by multiple hard-hitting events in a row, at least two of the three storytellers will back off for a time to let you recover
should you survive the onslaught. If you chose randy random, though, may the great random have mercy on your pawns because he sure will not! Difficulty settings range from peaceful to merciless, so you
have a great amount of freedom to choose your own level of challenge. Rimworld does credit to the survival genre; gameplay is simple yet holds a great amount of freedom and options for choosing how you progress. The difficulty curve is steep, but survival game enthusiasts know what they’re getting into; the more you play, the more you learn, and you survive longer the more experience you have with the game.
The game does have a great amount of replayability; between the random map generation options, and the random event generation defined by the three different AI storytellers, and two different ways to reach a victory if you so choose, you never play the same game twice. While you can’t say the base game holds a whole lot of content, what it does have is enough variation that every game is a fresh
experience, and the game can be played over and over without growing stale. One game might be the story of your pawns surviving mechanoid attacks in an idyllic climate where plants grow all year round.
Another might be about your desert colony trying to survive in the harsh, crop-killing heat. You might even be playing in an arctic climate, where a day in which the temperature reaches as high as ten
degrees Fahrenheit would be relatively hot. The game has a little story of its own, beyond the initial setting and the survival imperative, so if you’re the type of player that likes to play a story you’ll need to come up with your own. Some of the stories I could write about my experiences in Rimworld range from uplifting to morbid. In one of my playthroughs, I played the story of the solo adventurer, Emmie. In my story, Emmie was an escaped vat-grown slave, and as slaves on her world were designed to be unable to fight back against their masters, Emmie could not fight back at all. Far beyond just having zero skill in both of the combat skills, melee, and ranged. Emmie just didn’t have those skills, to begin with as part of her character. Since she couldn’t fight on her own, she had to race against time to build some defenses to keep the raiders away. Unfortunately for our heroine, she had little in the way of building or survival skills, so the first raider that came after she bulled his way through the primitive trap she had managed to build clubbed her over the head and dragged her away.
For the price point of $34.99 for the base game, I would say to wait to get it on sale. As great as the game is, I feel the game doesn’t quite warrant that high of a tag. The additional DLC available, where
it added to the base game instead of in a separately priced package, may bring the value up to the asking price, but right now, I feel the game is a bit overpriced for what it gives you.
- A huge amount of event variety.
- Choose your own challenge with multiple difficulty levels.
- Different AI storytellers.
- Fully customizable individual pawn AI priorities.
- A great amount of replayability.
- The base game is expensive for what it offers.
- A little story to the game, RPG enthusiasts will need to tell their own.
- Very steep difficulty curve; expect a lot of failed runs.
ShadouFireborn gives Rimworld a Drastikmeasure score a 7.5 out of 10. (75).