A game comes around every now and then that sits you down and gently breaks it to you with a smooth mellow voice that it will be taking up your every waking minute for the next two weeks. At first you disagree and may even fight back with exclamations of needing to do this or that life chore but eventually you succumb just as the game knew you would. The game then gives you a cup of tea and pats your head.
That game for me this month is RimWorld.
I've actually been playing RimWorld on and off for the last year or so during its quiet beta being run from the developers website, but recently RimWorld was released on Steam in early access and I have been drawn in like a thing that is really drawn into stuff because it is great.
For those of you that have not yet been sucked into the wormhole that is RimWorld let me tell you all about it for the next 500 or so words.
RimWorld, in short, is a survival sim that plops you on a backwater world with just enough to survive for a few days and leaves you to do the rest. You are required to build and manufacture just about everything you need to survive and everything needs to be done now, now, now! That leaves you, the player, with the juggling act of managing people's mental state and balancing that with the various jobs that are required to be done. Everything from hauling wood, to cleaning rooms, to shooting that pesky raider that (for some reason) is intent on hacking off your arm.
I did mention that RimWorld is in beta and early access but by god apart from some niggly manufacturing priority issues, you wouldn't know it. The development team consists of one person and he is regularly bringing out updates that is making the game better and better every few months and has been for the better part of two years.
Anyway, I digress.
RimWorld as a game is generally a brutal place to attempt to subsist in. Not only can you be raided by everything from savages to robots, you also have to deal with the elements. Heatwaves can catch you off guard and destroy your refrigerated food, toxic gases can blanket the land with a gradual death that restricts you from hunting or farming (also killing all wildlife both flora and fauna). Lightning storms can start random fires that can take out your base. Even your own colonists can defeat you from the inside by having mental breakdowns and going on killing sprees until they are eventually succumbed.
The colonists themselves are imperfect beasts that have their own baggage. Some will refuse to haul goods, others refuse to clean. Some will have a potential chemical addiction. One lovely fellow I had under my wing would randomly start fires. That ended with half my base being burnt down because he set fire to batteries that subsequently exploded. Overall you need to make sure colonists are more or less happy otherwise things are going to go bad for you and your colony.
That's not to say that colonists are completely useless. Indeed each colonist has their own unique skills from a pool of possible knowledge bases. This is where the balancing act really comes into its own. You might have a great hunter, but she is also the only one that will clean. The warden might be great at looking after prisoners, but if he is too busy cooking to ever do it, then your prisoners might decide it is better to attempt a break out rather than starve to death.
Just as you think you have mastered what RimWorld has to offer you, it throws you a curve ball that destroys your painstakingly crafted equilibrium and throws you into the deep end of a pool of acid with mutant sharks. And. You. Love. Every. Minute. Of. It.
Many compare RimWorld to Dwarf Fortress and whilst I would agree in part, I think RimWorld brings its own unique take to the survival genre, and I can only applaud the direction the game is taking and can't wait for more shenanigans into the future.