Dwarfs have always been the fantasy race I love the most. Long friends, strong hearts and a love of drink and mead! And this title is full of all the best parts. Battle bad guys, collect gold, dig mines and build to your heart’s content. This cartoony game will keep you crafting to the last! Another title in early access, yes, but it is a good time!
I’ve already placed time into previous plays in this game, but with its recent updates I feel it’s nearing a completed state and deserving of discussion. The first couple times I played it, I was quickly diced to ribbons, so I recommend restarting until you have a little bit of an elevated platform above your surroundings. Trust me, when night falls you will be glad you did! Upon start up, you have one dwarf that warps in through a portal, proving they are descendants of an alien race. You cannot move your stockpile nor your portal, hence the restart need to relocate your spawn. Once you have a suitable location, you just follow prompts and missions. These missions give you exp points, which help you to work toward levels. At each level, your holdfast gets another citizen, but be careful to keep them alive.
Your dwarfs do everything from mining and building to fighting and fishing. They gather resources, too, but you have to deliver all their orders yourself, making this a fairly active title. As you gather resources, you’ll get missions to start crafting things, and making new items is always a good idea. That’s how you’ll get armor and weapons! You also level up to get a smithy for advanced projects, furniture and building pieces. With these you can make some nifty living quarters for your dwarfs. One of your early missions also grants you with this bearded totem-face. That is what tells you how good their standard of living is, which is bullshit since the bastards are demanding as fuck! They need all stone walls and secured doors, hand-carven beds and the finest food cooked in the finest kitchen. But they build it all themselves (albeit under your strict direction), so I guess they deserve the satisfaction.
As you can see, you won’t be starting off with five-star accommodations, but you work up to it. This fancy hole-in-the-ground establishment took a good hour in real life, a couple days in game, to create. But you really don’t get much time to wallow in the luxury of mud-lain floors. Soo enough you get to deal with all kinds of assholes. Actually, every night a parade of skeletons and zombies come walking toward you, since dwarf is apparently a pungent and delicious dish, and bust your door down! Not to mention ghosts start swarming all over your stockpile, and if you leave the stuff out too long, it get stolen by goblins. Yup! Little green shits, too! At some point after the third or fourth day, you’ll have a tribe of goblins spring up nearby, and where the skeletons use their shields to boost each other over terrain, goblins build ugly little stick platforms. So, it is in your best interest to build weapons and armor as quickly as you can.
In order to get all the materials necessary to move away from beating your enemies with logs while wearing lumber-plated chest armor, you need metal. Sure, you might have to buy some materials from the Ogre Store to grease the wheels at the start, but coin is not easy to come by, so it’s not the best long-term strategy. Dig deep and you’ll find nice-sized deposits of iron, gold, silver and even mithril! If that gives you a bearded little chubby, then you’re playing the right game. This one is all about getting materials and making shit with ’em. Of course, it’s not all gold, gems and berry sprinkles. Leave a mineshaft abandoned without lighting, you’ll find it over grown with snapping plant-life. Or maybe you’ll unwittingly spawn on top of a colony of psychotic fire-ants with a taste for leathery dwarf-flesh!
You may also have noticed the skeleton timer up there, too. When that timer runs out after a good 45 minutes, all hell breaks loose. Alongside whatever other nocturnal terrors you cope with regularly, hell sends a warming party to drag you down into the pits of fire with them. Often a boss will come through, too. And walling off that side of your home won’t do shit, either. They’ll knock down doors, tear apart your ground-hatch; shit, they’ll dig through a stone wall to get at your sweet sweet dwarf meat. So the only recourse is to forge your way to victory. The above images, by the way. Those are from the first world in the campaign mode, and it’s on an easy difficulty. I have yet to get past it, but I am sure the next realm isn’t exactly a picnic in happy-land.
Along the bottom of your screen is the hotbar. You’ll be placing furniture, door, torches etc. out of this tray. Equip is how you get your dwarfs to wear their armor (as if the marching onslaught of demons wasn’t all too inspiring) and craft is where you craft. The crafting menu is pretty minecraft-esque, and you drop materials into various coordinations to assemble pickaxes, maces and everything else you can’t dig out of the ground. Of course, you just have to click on items in your stockpile to learn how to make them. Of course, blueprints of new items will appear in there depending on how far through the crafting tree you progress. Technological advances are separated into various types, typically designated by the primary material used to make the items. Moving up through the tree lets you go from sleeping on a bed of leaves to lodgings fit for a king. Not to mention increasing dwarf inventory size with back packs, making better foods to keep them fueled longer and healing them faster when they go to sleep. Aside from just the inventory size, each dwarf can learn different skills related to dwarf tasks. cooking, logging, climbing, swimming, hunting; you name it, there is probably a book about it. If there were female dwarfs, I might be scared what other books might get dropped. Good thing each dwarf is cloned by our alien gods.
Good for a return game after you get bored with a title you’ve been waiting to play for a year and a half, this one is always a good time. It gets a little frustrating at times, but the message is always the same: this is all about a good time and freedom. And after you build as far as you can? Just move on to the next world. Face greater challenges, fry bigger fish, make bigger castles. Whatever your cup ‘o’ tea, just make sure you defend the little dwarfs, cause as stinky as I imagine they are (you sure as fuck can’t build a bathtub) listening to their shrieks and watching their ghosts drift away is a little heart-breaking. Especially after you spend all that time and randomly-dropped occupation books to customize each dwarf. And for only 15$ on Steam, you can have your very own dwarf colony.
Many things bring forth my ire, and in this the little shit gets annoying. The dwarfs are like the ones from Lord of the Rings with a touch of Snow White’s infamous seven. These guys can make some bitchin’ armor and weapons, but as cool as they look, they sound like adorable, dirty, stinky teddy bears. Seriously. They say ‘ow’ when they fall down from climbing trees. They grumble and bumble and talk in Sims-style chat bubbles. But that’s ok. Just wait until it’s night and they’re asleep. They’ll learn why Maxis won’t let me play the Sims anymore. Just wall off the exits and put tapestries over the firepits and voila! Instant dwarf roast! Of course, even if fire mechanics in this game were advanced enough to do that, they would be the ones placing all the tapestries and walling themselves in like kool-aide sipping cultists complicit with the totem-god in their own mass suicide. O, well. You can’t torture all helpless little creatures under your command.