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Dwarf Fortress—The Game To End All Games

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Isn’t it tiring when people keep repeating ‘Game X is the Dark Souls of genre Y’?

For players of Dwarf Fortress, that sentence is not only tiring, but also insulting! The far more accurate statement would be ‘Game X is the Dwarf Fortress of genre Y’, because if you want difficulty and !FUN!, you go to Dwarf Fortress, and you never look back. This is not a review, but rather an encouragement to try out one of the most inaccessible, but most engaging game of all time.’

DF has various layers and modes of gameplay. In the most popular one, the player is taking control over a band of dwarves colonizing a new piece of land (or mountain) for their kingdom. They have to grow food, defend against many evils, build a fortress, and come up with ingenious ways of not getting killed by the various threats from within and without. Here’s a couple of ways that dwarves can die:

Getting eaten by a were-frog.

Starving to death because they went mad carving a ring made out of elf bones.

Drowning in lava.

Drowning in lava on purpose.

A cave-in.

A flooding, caused by a cave-in.

A lava flooding, caused by a cave-in.

Getting eaten by clowns from hell.

Running into the shooting line of a marksdwarf because they haven’t drunk alcohol for too long.

Running into the shooting line of a marksdwarf who is also a vampire who is wearing a ring made out of elf bones.

The possibilities are endless.

The game simulates everything, even the universe that the game takes place in itself. Players can create new worlds that get populated with dwarves, elves, goblins, humans, monsters, and other creatures. All of those entities have lives of their own, and you can even trace what any entity did in the history files.

This all is the life-project of Tarn Adams. A fascinating thing about the development of Dwarf Fortress is that it is completely crowdfunded; but people are not paying Tarn to finish the game. Rather, they want him to never STOP developing the game. Some say they will only be satisfied when the game is able to simulate our universe itself.

All of this fascinating weirdness is hidden behind an obtrusive UI disaster and ASCII symbols. But don’t you think that is a matter of concern to true followers of DF: the UI, if anything, serves as a puzzle to solve to be admitted into the hallowed halls of Urist. Thankfully, there are various mods to make the game palatable to at least some of those completely disgusted by the game’s graphical presentation. But even those should give the game one more look, because of one reason: BOATMURDERED.

Boatmurdered is a Let’s Play of the traditional written kind which chronicles the history of a dwarven fortress, and its slow descend into madness. Cannibalism, raging bloodthirsty elephants, children playing with the innards of their parents as their home crumbles around them… it has it all. If nothing can make you give the game at least one spin, maybe that story will.

If not, then at least rest assured that all those who would make you believe that Dark Souls is the pinnacle of challenge in gaming are dead wrong. Because Dwarf Fortress exists, and it’s here to steal all pretension of competency that you may have ever held about yourself.

Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article! If you’d like to see some related content, and support Exclusively Games in the process, click on our Amazon Affiliate links listed below to find related products. – EG Staff

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  1. I have tried.

    So. Many. Times.

    To get into this. I want to love it. I know I will, if I can just learn to play it. But it is SO opaque. I have no idea what to do or where to start.

    I’ll never stop trying to learn how to play this. In the meantime, I’m glad that reading about other players’ experiences is so entertaining.

    • If I may! The wiki has a really quite excellent walk through to get you started with the fortress mode.

      In fact it’s probably one of the most comprehensive wikis I’ve ever seen. It really does answer damn near any question.

      And the good news is that once you’ve got over the puzzle of the UI and learn to read ‘the matrix’ you won’t look back. I also highly recommend picking up PeridexisErrant’s DF Starter Pack (formerly the Lazy Newb Pack) – it comes with graphics tiles, various utilities such as sound packs and dwarf therapist, and tweaks to improve the game flow.

      Hope you’re successful digging ever deeper and more greedily.

      • Guilherme on March 2, 2019 at 4:25 pm said

        The key is trying, just do it and you start to notice a pattern. Whanever you think “I want to do this, but don’t know how” that’s when you go to the wiki.

        If your fort crumbles, try and try again. Each time you last longer and start to do things automatically. It’s all about the process.

  2. I feel like this, Minecraft, a recent Civilization game, and UT2004 would be enough to keep me happily gaming for the rest of my days if ever stuck on a deserted island or in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (with a power source).

    • Ahh, UT2004 is a great game! You should check out Xonotic as well, an open-source game of the same genre 😀 But UT2004 truly is unique.

  3. I’ve had my Lazy Newb Pack installed for quite some time but learning the game seems like such a daunting task I always seem to find an excuse to play another game instead.

  4. ArdentVector on February 28, 2019 at 11:39 pm said

    DF is great! So pleased you covered it.

    For anyone interested you should watch some lets plays and then some tutorials (I recommend Quill18 on YT & Twitch). After that, the DF Wiki has everything you need for plenty of “FUN!”

  5. Merchant Guild rep on March 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm said

    Sseth Tzeentach Merchant’s Guild REPRESENT!

  6. It’s my favourite game that I can rarely be bothered to play.

    But when I do, I absolutely LOVE it.

  7. Jew Goldstein on March 2, 2019 at 5:52 am said

    I always get hung up on finding a mountain to dig into.

    I restart a few times, and eventually get sick of restarting.

    But, I really like the game, and I just wish it were easier to breech.

    • Guilherme on March 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm said

      The secret to finding a good mountain is remembering that you can increase the size of the land you’ll be deployed in, that way you get a forest for Resources while also getting a huge mountain to work with. Saddly you need a monster PC to really get something out of this.

  8. Sseth Tzeentach’s youtube review of this game is really excellent. I highly recommend watching it if you’re still on the fence about playing this gem.

  9. I want to die over and over again at this game.

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