One of the most popular indie games of all time, Dwarf Fortress is getting a complete visual redux and official paid release on Steam on December 6th. A free colony sim game in which you build up a settlement of dwarves deep within the earth, Dwarf Fortress began development in 2002.
It has long been famed for its complex and brilliant gameplay (helped along by its grimly imaginative story engine) and unfortunately, its incoherent ASCII text-based graphics and steep learning curve.
However, the procedurally generated world, intricate simulations, strategic depth, and emergent storytelling of Dwarf Fortress have influenced everything from Rimworld to Minecraft to Banished. Fans celebrate their own demises as much as they do their glorious victories Dwarf Fortress, namely because all the ways your fortress can be rendered null are so entertaining.
There are many, many things that can go wrong in Dwarf Fortress. Failing to shore up your defenses leaves you open to death by invasion, while an army of your own drunk lunatic soldiers can wipe you out from the inside. Vampires, lizardfolk, and a literal tunnel to hell exist beneath your fortress — among a host of other chaotic, wild, and unexpected events, characters, and of course, horrible deaths.
Conversely, there is also plenty of satisfaction to be had in creating your settlements, their histories, and the deep and myriad ways you can engage with your dwarves. Whether that’s setting up musical religious shrines to horrifying skeleton gods or learning the full details of each dwarf’s likes and dislikes.
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The upcoming Steam version brings pixel art graphics, some of which are drawn from tile set mod packs created by the Dwarf Fortress community, in addition to brand new pixel art. The Steam edition will also include a 15-track soundtrack and even adds some tracks in the Dwarvish language. There will also be an in-depth tutorial, a feature that was only added fairly recently to the original free Dwarf Fortress.
Dwarf Fortress has been in development for 20 years and is the creation of Tarn Adams and his brother, who collectively run the indie games company Bay 12 Games. Its first Alpha version landed in 2006, and it has since gradually attracted a cult following — with the company funded through donations on Patreon from Dwarf Fortress fans.
The upcoming Steam release comes in collaboration with popular indie game publisher Kitfox, who is best known for its efforts behind the games Boyfriend Dungeon and The Shrouded Isle.
The updated version of Dwarf Fortress will be landing on Steam and itch.io on December 6th. Referred to as a “lifetime” project, developers Bay 12 Games have no intentions to stop making content for Dwarf Fortress. While you wait, check out the free version over here.