I’ve been playing Dwarf Fortress for a while now, messing about with levers, traps, farms, stills, workshops and mining for precious metals. However, it takes a while to get into the swing of things due to the lack of tutorial and those ACSII graphics.
However, spend a few hours in its company, and Dwarf Fortress reveals itself to be one of the most absorbing games ever made.
Think of a mish-mash of Dungeon Keeper, The Sims, The Settlers with a dash of a good old-fashioned Roguelike and you’re almost there.
Starting with seven dwarves, the aim is to build a Mines of Moria style dwelling for your hard-working charges. Other migrants will flock to your fortress as the years pass, bringing their own unique challenges.
But along with carving a hole to live in a rock face, Dwarf Fortress incorporates other incredibly deep aspects which enhance the game, including hunting, fishing (watch out for the Carp), brewing, farming, trading, smelting, woodcutting, craft making and military training. There's plenty more besides, but that's a good enough start.
Along with looking after your dwarven community, you'll come across berserk dwarves, invasions and raids on your fortress which make the game unpredictable and utterly addictive.
There’s a tremendous amount to do and to keep track of. People talk about Grand Theft Auto as the ultimate sandbox game, but they have obviously never played Dwarf Fortress. You can do almost anything you want and with no end game to worry about, it’s fun to try new things. And if you fail, well, just start over. That’s the key - don’t be afraid of failure. As any Roguelike fan will tell you, failure is all part of the fun.
Each personal milestone is immensely satisfying and you’ll take great delight as your dwarves get married and throw a party, or when your armoursmith takes over a workshop, only to re-emerge with a beautifully detailed masterpiece.
It’s impossible for me to cover every aspect of the game, but it’s a marvel. And when you learn it’s still in its Alpha stage and has been created by one man - Tarn Adams, I salute you, sir – you begin to realise that Dwarf Fortress is something rather special.
It’s free to download and I would urge everyone to at least try the game. There are a fine selection of software tools to enhance the experience, including the brilliant 3D Dwarf Visualiser and a variety of tilesets if you can’t get over the default visuals, so give it a go.
And, if it grabs your attention, why not give Tarn a small donation for all his hard work.
Incidentally, a new version is planned, so keep your eyes on the Dwarf Fortress site for all the latest news. There's also an incredibly useful Dwarf Fortress Wiki, which makes interesting reading over a brew...that's a cup of tea, not a mug of foaming dwarven ale!
Dwarf Fortress Wiki
Captain Duck's Video Tutorials