What on earth am I looking at.
Dwarf fortress is complicated. By how much? Well, it’s essentially Starcraft, thrown together with AI:War, with all of CIV 5’s expansion packs. Times five. In one of my many death spirals, a wereskunk slipped in as an immigrant to my fortress, over the course of the the next year, multiple dwarves died. Soon enough, their families were sad, throwing tantrums and destroying various items. Soon enough more dwarves were tantruming, until BAM. Death.
Still with me? Good.
First thrown together by the Adams brothers in 2002, Dwarf fortress is actually two games in one. Packed with a simulator. In fortress mode you control a group of dwarves as the overseer, telling them what to do and how to do it. You have to deal with resource management, grand strategy, etc. Basically CIV, but controlling one city instead of an entire nation.
In adventure mode, It’s a bit simpler. You play as an adventurer(obviously). It’s kind of an open world version of net hack. You just go around and kill monsters and stuff.
Legends mode is different. Instead of playing, you can look a the history of the world you generated. That beings me to a new topic. The defining force behind Dwarf Fortress. World generation.
Now you might be looking at the screen weird. Lots of games have world generation, what makes dwarf fortress special? The difference between them is the sheer complexity. It’s like comparing the Legend of Zelda to Chrono Trigger. Yes they’re both RPGs. Yes they’re both exploration heavy, Yes there are common elements. But if you play both, you immediately know that comparing the two is wrong. They both do completely different things. They have different systems. The spirits behind both games are completely different.
Dwarf fortress generates entire histories. New creatures that will never be seen in any other world. The world you have is completely unique.
Now that I’ve given you a general summary, let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the (really) ugly.
One of the things I love about this game is the sheer complexity. For all your fail safes, anything could go wrong.
Even when you’ve protected yourself externally, internal problems are abundant. The game is so huge that often times, you’ll end up with stories you’ll never forget, dwarves you’ll always remember, good or bad.
Another amazing thing is the sheer audacity of the game when it comes to completely messing with you. I recall a story where a crazy dwarf who lost her husband to a goblin siege.
She jumped off a bridge into a deep hole in an attempt to kill herself. The cinch? She was pregnant. The baby popped out the dead body. Unharmed- physically. Mentally, his mum was dead AND he saw the death. The player decided to abandon him. Years later he had a dwarf mining around that area, where he found the child ALIVE. He had survived off a rat infestation.
Unfortunately, the complexity is a double edged sword. Often times bugs will slip through the cracks, and while they can be funny
(fixed bug where babies are born with knives strapped to their hips)
Usually they’re just annoying. I have no end to the horror stories where a goblin clips though the wall or something equally random.
The graphics are confusing. Often times it’s impossible to tell the difference between a Cow and a dragon. And I have no words for the menus. Once upon a time I got lost for half an hour in the menu.
All in all, dwarf fortress is a wonderfully complicated game. Past all the complicated menus and the bad graphics is a wonderfully immersive game that will keep you playing for weeks- If your fortress doesn’t collapse by then.
This is an engraving of a human.The human is begging for likes and comments.