It was only a matter of time until a studio took it upon themselves to make a Dwarf Fortress-like game. It is a potential goldmine, after-all – while Dwarf Fortress is a free game, it has the reputation of not being easy to play. The lack of accessibility is the main reason why the contingent of DF players is rather small – so A Game of Dwarves from Zeal should tap into that great potential market because it’s more accessible, right?
I gotta go straight here and put out a very resounding Nyet. Or at least not as much as most of us have hoped. The game is a tile based strategy game in which you micro-manage a group of dwarves in their quest to… do various objectives. See, one of the big things about the game is that it has the potential of being a great sandbox game, giving you free reign to dig and explore in a big environment, hopefully full of depth and interesting stuff to find. Once you get into the game proper, though, it ultimately feels like it falls flat. The depth is there, but it is covered by a layer of fiddly controls and another of lackluster presentation. The game does look charming, and it does have charming elements to it, but the characters animate as stiffly as morning wood.
There’s good elements to the game, and for all I know, you may like it – as I said, it looks charming and it’s easy to navigate the menus to go through all the items you’d like to build, there’s a story campaign and a even a tutorial that makes it easy enough to know what it’s all about. It gives you direction, but also the possibility of playing a free-form custom game. But the game is slow. The game’s pace, even when playing on fast-forward, is so slow that you’re mostly waiting for things to happen. Even with the free teleportation action you can use to put the dwarves in the places they should be at, the actions still feel slow and clunky.
Now, there may be more under the hood – I’ve only played the game for a few hours. The game’s crashed on me a few times, but that’s probably because I went through things like locking my computer or alt-tabbing, things that other titles don’t seem to have any problem with. To top it all off, there’s an in-game shop with micro-transactions. Sure there aren’t all that many things on there, some of them are free and all of them are cosmetic, but it feels like the focus should be somewhere else.
The game’s 10 euros/dollars on Steam. You can get it here if you like. I’m sorry to say, but I’d advise against it.