Dwarf Fortress-esque games have been coming out of the woodwork as of late. I recently did a review on “Towns” and now I’m pleased to be able to tinker with “Gnomoria.” For those of you new to the genre, “Dwarf Fortress” and those games like it are sandbox village-builder simulators. Your minions (be it Dwarves or Gnomes) will be gathering resources and building items in an attempt to create a thriving civilization. Before we get started on this particular sandbox, I’d like to thank Robert West for sending me a free preview copy. Like all previews (this game is currently in the Alpha stage), all of the content that I mention in this article is subject to change.
The main menu is simply a black background with the option to start a new game, load an existing one, or set game options. I noticed the background music straight away and commend the game’s creator for giving it a retro feel. Those of you who are familiar with “PiCTOBiTS” will appreciate the nod, more so if you’re a child of the 80′s like myself. The options are fairly basic, but cover the necessities like screen resolution, fullscreen toggle, audio, and more.
When creating a new game, you’ll be given the option to name your kingdom, select the kingdom size, select the seed, assign the kingdom center, and select from normal or peaceful game modes. The peaceful mode is a great addition and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it for those of you still learning the ropes (like myself).
For those of you who have played “Towns”, it’s very similar, but I am already noticing a difference in the interface and how the game plays out. While the mechanics for choosing to forage and chop wood is similar in both games, Gnomoria’s graphics are a bit more streamlined and easier on the eyes. For an Alpha, the interface is fairly smooth and I didn’t have any issues finding my way around. The top row of buttons will help you to manage your empire while the bottom row of buttons will allow you to interact with the environment. I found that I really liked the two-row interface as opposed to “Towns’” four row interface as it was easier to manage.
To expand on the interface further, the menus found along the top are nicely done. The “Assign” tab under the population menu for example, allows you to assign your villagers to particular tasks. The “Professions” tab takes it further and allows you to say what those tasks actually do. The game’s default professions are fine, though experienced vets may want to tinker and specialize villagers as the need arises.
Crafting is pretty easy: select the crafting table you want and que the items you want made. You’ll be able to select which resources you want your villagers to use to make the item, assuming you have any. The option is there to craft a certain number of an item, which is a nice touch and will save you from developing carpal tunnel syndrome a day earlier than expected.
The hard part when playing games like this is figuring out how best to progress. For the first game, I got as far as digging holes in the ground, mining out large caverns, foraging food, cutting down trees, creating pastures, growing various types of farms, and building any crafting table that the game allowed me to make. I had no idea what I was doing, and this is part of why I disliked “Towns”. I’m really, really hoping that Gnomoria takes it time and creates a detailed in-game tutorial on how to do everything that the game has to offer. I wouldn’t mind if this meant that the game stay in the Alpha and Beta stages for a while. I can’t speak for other gamers out there, but I’d rather have a completely finished, user-friendly game as opposed to a rushed, unfinished one.
All in all, Gnomoria is definitely something to keep your eye on. It has a lot of potential and can go far with the right amount of TLC. It already has a solid foundation and a smooth interface, all it needs now is to be polished enough to where it is user-friendly to gamers of all types and not just the ones who enjoy stumbling around without a clear sense of direction. There is a demo on Desura via the link below, should you like to try the game before you purchase into the Alpha.
You can learn more about “Gnomoria” by visiting the following website:
You can visit its Steam’s Greenlight and Desura pages here: