Rimworld Review (Early Access) – Endless Possibilities


Ludeon Studios

I recently fired up Rimworld on my new gaming laptop, while out at an internet café. Here’s my experience with it:

The escape pods crash landed on the planet’s surface, and my three survivors emerged from the smoke and haze. They’d landed on a relatively flat, temperate zone, which would be easier for building a colony. My small group consisted of Carter, the survivor of a penal colony who had a great work ethic and an equally strong back. Shelly, who had been a child assassin growing up and had rather limited social skills, and Yulia. Ah, Yulia, how can I ever forget you. Yulia was a spoiled child pop star who was brought up being used to people kissing the ground she walked on. All of fifteen years of age, Yulia was quite the partier and could usually charm people off their feet with her magnetic demeanor. The only thing more important to Yulia than Yulia, was Yulia’s annoying little cat, Tamiko.

Since Shelly had green fingers, she commenced to sowing vegetables within our humble starter garden. Carter mined stone and chopped trees with the utmost of vigor, and soon we had walls erected and a few basic furniture items assembled. And then we had Yulia, who saw fit to wander around the grounds aimlessly. Well, I guess there was probably some grand purpose in all of her cloud watching routines. Maybe it’s just that the lowly peasants (her companions) weren’t capable of discerning what that was.


I could almost feel Yulia’s digital teammates seething with ire as they hauled resources this way and that, skirting around the oblivious child star. In-between bouts of naval gazing and doting over her equally spoiled cat, Yulia just couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger in order to help out with the any of the labor and heavy lifting involved in establishing a fledgling base.

Sometime later, after a couple of large rooms had been built containing food supplies as well as electricity and several appliances, a random occurrence came about. Another survivor, a young man named Billy, appeared on the horizon—and he wasn’t alone. He was being chased by a small group of bandits who were hot on his tail, and he begged the colonists’ for sanctuary. Billy was an actor with very limited combat skills and so ran straight into the base, and cowered behind a workbench while the others fended off the raiders.


Although Yulia was a spoiled little princess, she did excel at marksmanship, and in a matter of moments, she’d shot holes in the bandits with the group’s survival rifle, much to the surprise of everyone present. Unfortunately, however, she sustained a knife injury in the fracas. So, she sauntered over to the base’s medical bed and climbed in, in order to rest and heal up. In the morning, the colonists discovered that Yulia had developed quite an infection on her leg where she had been shanked. The others scurried around trying to find a cure for her but in the end she expired.

In the following days, Carter and Shelly moped around the colony in depressed states, and occasionally visited Yulia’s nearby grave site. Even though Yulia had been a spoiled little princess, the others had taken her passing hard, especially since she had risen to the occasion in their hour of need. Shelly eventually broke down and developed a drug problem, causing her to spiral downward. This left the remaining two colonists to basically fend for themselves.

And that’s where I’m at in my current game of Rimworld, Montreal developer Ludeon Studios’ new science fiction colony simulator. Rimworld, to me at least, is like a fusion of the heavily detailed, procedural powerhouse, Dwarf Fortress, and the equally addictive Prison Architect. It has the deep, procedurally generated narratives and character backgrounds of the former, and the crisp, minimalist visuals and accessibility of the latter, but has enough uniqueness to stand on its own two feet.


In Rimworld, you can start your nifty little story with either one well-off person, three people with a medium amount of resources, or five prison escapees who have very limited resources and are being chased by death machines. Your characters are randomly generated and have their own advantages, disadvantages, and even relations to one another in some cases. From there you select one of three AI storytellers. Cassandra is pretty well balanced. Phoebe Friendly is much more forgiving in the beginning and allows your party plenty of time to establish their colony, but when raiders finally do arrive, they are quite a force to be reckoned with. And lastly, we have Randy Random, who can (and will) toss a multitude of additional random events your way.

You can also choose what type of environment you want to begin in—jungle, arctic, desert, and several other biomes. You must be aware that the more extreme climates are much more of a challenge to settle within. Although you will get raided from time to time, or perhaps attacked by some random animals, much of the fun to be had in Rimworld (for me at least) is just seeing how your colonists interact with each other, as well as how they deal with different situations.


For instance, my worker bee guy Carter developed a crush on the young attractive actor Billy. Carter made a couple of passes at Billy but was rebuffed. This in turn made Carter feel sad, and he wandered about pouting thereafter. Later, Carter got food poisoned by something he ate, and was bedridden for several days. Surprisingly, Billy came to his aid, feeding him and keeping him company throughout his ordeal. This really cheered Carter up again, although nothing more ever transpired between the two.

These sorts of organic developments are rather lacking in games these days, which are more like experiencing movies on rails in some cases. Or, they utilize artificial, forced, narrative turns to emulate spontaneity. In Rimworld, you can take a bunch of disparate (and many times desperate as well) folks, plop them down in a fledgling communal colony setting, and watch them grow, suffer, prosper, succumb, blossom, and triumph, all in authentic ways. This is part of what people are raving about with regards to playing Rimworld, where they ramble on about how addictive it is. It sure is for me. It’s almost like looking into a very interesting fishbowl, but with lots of interactivity on your part.


Rimworld is an exciting new game that offers gamers a highly unique take on the ever-growing survival genre. It combines colorful, detailed graphics, along with engaging game mechanics. Each game is very different from others and unfolds organically, allowing for virtually limitless replay value. I’d say that if you’re even remotely interested in survival games, or games in which you actually begin to care about your little digital protagonists, then grab a copy of (the very affordable) Rimworld. It’s a blast to show off to your friends on a beefy gaming laptop.

SCORE: 87%


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