Today we want to talk with you about games like RimWorld and Dwarf Fortress. Before moving further with analysis it is important to describe what type of games they are first. In general, they are a mix of strategy and survival games.
In these games, you are supposed to take care of your colonies (usually located in a very dangerous place – in the case of RimWorld it is an alien planet). Thanks to building a proper base you will be able to hold your own and take care of your people.
These games focus especially on the aspect of proper management of your colonists who have a very complex AI, capable of reacting to both your actions and to the environment itself. These types of games are loved by fans of strategy games, tactical games and sim games.
People very often ask which is better, RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress and they are usually provided with mixed answers (especially on Reddit where discussions are held for many weeks).
However, what if we told you that there are other games similar to these two titles? Exactly, you might enjoy dozens of similar and great games of this type. However, we decided to provide you with a list of just 15.
What are colony-management games?
|Space Haven||2020-05-21||Bawe building||Bugbyte Ltd.||75%||Read more|
|Surviving The Aftermath||2020-10-22||City builder||Iceflake Studios||82%||Read more|
|Gnomoria||2016-02-23||Indie||Unknown Origin Games Inc||Read more|
|Odd Realm||2019-01-10||Indie||Unknown Origin Games Inc||Read more|
|They Are Billions||2017-12-12||Strategy||Numantian Games||Read more|
|Prison Architect||2015-10-06||Indie||Introversion Software||94%||Read more|
|Frostpunk||2018-04-24||Simulation||11 bit studios||84%||Read more|
|First Feudal||2017-11-30||Indie||Harpoon Games||Read more|
|Surviving Mars||2018-03-15||Simulation||Haemimont Games||92%||Read more|
|Kenshi||2018-12-06||Indie||Lo-Fi Games||60%||Read more|
|Oxygen Not Included||2017-05-18||Action & Shooter||Klei Entertainment||Read more|
|Stonehearth||2015-06-03||Economy||Radiant Entertainment||Read more|
|Factorio||2016-02-25||Indie||Wube Software LTD.||Read more|
|Colony Survival||2017-06-16||Indie||Pipliz||Read more|
|Project Zomboid||2013-11-08||Indie||The Indie Stone||40%||Read more|
|Stellaris||2016-05-09||Strategy||Paradox Development Studio||87%||Read more|
|Dyson Sphere Program||2021-01-21||Base building||Youthcat Studio||Read more|
|Stardew Valley||2016-02-26||Adventure||ConcernedApe||Read more|
|7 Days To Die||2013-12-13||Adventure||The Fun Pimps||77%||Read more|
|Satisfactory||2020-06-08||Building||Coffee Stain Studios||25%||Read more|
RimWorld vs Dwarf Fortress
It is a rather hard question. While there are many similarities between both games, there are many aspects in which they differ. However, the most important difference is the general difficulty level.
RimWorld is designed for players who just started their adventure with similar games. While it is hard, it is still quite forgiving for players. It is not like a single mistake is going to destroy your entire game.
Dwarf Fortress is different. It is a game designed for specialists.It is going to destroy you if you give it a chance. In other words, RimWorld is a much better game for casual gamers while Dwarf Fortress is designed for experts and hardcore gamers. Keep that in mind before you decide to buy one of these. In our opinion, both games are really great. They are going to provide you with a really huge amount of great gameplay and challenge.
Bugbyte’s Space Haven is a pretty neat little game (literally, takes just 250 MB of space) about building spaceships mid-flight and managing your crew.
It’s described by the developers themselves as a conceptual mix of RimWorld (for the emergent storytelling) and Oxygen Not Included (for the gas physics), in addition to a few other inspirations, like, indeed, Dwarf Fortress.
Space Haven gives you a ton of freedom in how you get to develop your, well, haven in the uncaring vastness of space, so you can go wild, as long as you mind the practicality of your designs. Your crewmates are also full of personality, of course, so they’ll have their own lives playing out as you roleplay in your own way. It’s a great space-faring game for fans of the genre.
Surviving the Aftermath
|Genre:||Simulation, strategy, survival|
Surviving the Aftermath has a less cheerful, light-hearted atmosphere than most other games on the list, but it’s nonetheless worth writing about.
The game is set in the titular aftermath of a global devastation event, and the map you’re working with is procedurally generated to encourage repeated playthroughs. It’s also important to note that at the time of writing the game is an Early Access title.
You have a couple of dozen survivors to recruit, a base to build, a world to explore, and many dangerous events to survive. You’ll also get to make a few moral (or immoral if that’s how you roll) choices. Many decisions you make will influence your reputation, which will color your relations with other survivor groups, so you can cultivate your legend in a way that suits your goals.
Sure, in Gnomoria you help a bunch of gnomes, not dwarves, but that’s not a huge difference, especially when the game is so pleasant.
Gnomoria can be considered a good stepping stone towards Dwarf Fortress because it’s not AS complex as that game, and it’s simple, but the clean presentation makes it easier to read than ASCII graphics that Tarn Adams’ game is known for.
But you do still have a procedurally generated world, a bunch of cute gnomes, and even some diplomacy if you want to annoy the neighbours the game drops near your colony. And despite being a fair bit simpler than the incomprehensibly complex Dwarf Fortress, you still need to know what you’re doing, because haphazard decisions are going to hurt sooner or later.
|Developer||Unknown Origin Games Inc|
Odd Realm is a lovely-looking game that doesn’t limit you to just one species, because there are five of them planned (the game is in Early Access), including the Undead, dubbed ‘Ancients’.
There are also several biomes, so you won’t need to build a colony in a pleasant tropical land and can populate a desert instead if you want to. Everything is procedurally generated, of course.
Odd Realm has nice, pixel-based graphics and everything is much easier to read than Dwarf Fortress’ original ASCII look. The colours are also vibrant whether you’re among green hills or carving out tunnels under a mountain. If you’re looking for a pleasant, nice-looking variation on the DF formula, Odd World is a safe bet. But do bear in mind that it is, at the time of writing, still in Early Access.
King Under the Mountain
|Release year:||2021 (TBD)|
|Developer||Rocket Jump Technology Ltd|
King Under the Mountain, at the time of writing, is still yet to be released, but it fits the topic so well that it would be wrong not to write about it.
KUtM is…well, it’s much like Dwarf Fortress. You’re establishing a colony, or other base of operations for one of several planned species, which include, of course, dwarves, but also humans and even wizards with a golem crew.
King Under the Mountain offers many different ways to play and coupled with procedural map generation it’s bound to last for a long time. There’s even a planned limited multiplayer which allows you to upload their settlements, which allows other players to visit your base, and you to visit theirs in turn. Oh, and it’s mod-friendly, too.
They are Billions
|Genre:||Real-time strategy, survival|
It is one of the most popular games similar to the Rim World and Dwarf Fortress. It’s a great choice for fans of the steampunk genre as well as zombies.
In this game, most of humanity was wiped out by a virus. An entire planet full of people was reduced to a desolate place with a few thousand survivors. These people need to stay alive. However, it is going to be very hard. After all, they have to fight against billions of zombies.
First, you build houses for workers, simple walls, etc. Then you have to take care of resources (such as wood, food, iron, etc.). You need to constantly upgrade your colony against more and more fierce attacks of relentless zombies. Thanks to a complex engine, the game is able to animate more than 20 000 units on the battlefield. Each mission is going to be different and provide you with a different set of challenges.
|Genre:||Construction and management simulation|
|Developer||Introversion Software, Introversion Software|
Prison Architect as the name suggests allows you to become a manager of a prison. Do you think that it is easy?
After all, the only thing you have to do is build a prison, hire security and watch prisoners all the time. Well, you are wrong. Taking care of prison is a really hard task. Prisoners need to be well-fed, have access to work, something to do in their free time, etc. Security guards also have their own needs.
Each person in your prison has certain character traits you need to watch for, or somebody may even end up dead. Each prisoner is going to provide you with income but they also cost money. Hence, you need to learn how to balance profits and spending. If you don’t take care of prisoners they’ll riot, and you definitely want to avoid that. Have you ever watched Shawshank Redemption? Now you can be the warden. It is not an easy job to do.
|Developer||11 bit studios|
Frostpunk is a new game from authors of the well-received This War of Mine and we can tell you that this is one of the best base building games ever created.
The game takes you straight to the alternative version of the 19th century where a new ice age had started. A small group of survivors is searching for a shelter near the steam heat generator. Your task is simple – you need to take care of these people. But simple doesn’t mean “easy”.
The main strength of the game lies in its plot and morale system. Frostpunk is going to force you to make many harsh decisions. Will you force children to work? Will you take care of the sick or leave them to die? Would you sacrifice one human, to save many? Furthermore, settlers of your settlement have two status bars. One is hope, the other is discontent. Your decisions will affect both. If either reaches a critical level it will end badly for your colony.
First Feudal is probably the best game that is going to appear when you are going to search for games like Dwarf Fortress or RimWorld. Is it a good game?
Well, similar to RimWorld you are going to take care of your own RPG-style village. You are going to collect resources, manage your peasants and troops, give tasks to your villagers etc. In other words, your main task is to develop your village and at the same time, you need to take care of bandits.
They are going to attack you constantly, especially when your village becomes well developed, searching for easy money. Your village is obviously a perfect place to attack. There are also various random events that will force you to make a decision that may affect your settlement for weeks to come. Nobody said life in the Middle Ages was easy, and First Feudal gives a very engaging taste of that. On the other hand a lively village looks lovely.
|Genre:||Simulation, city building|
|Developer||Haemimont Games, Abstraction Games|
It is finally time to settle Mars. Surving Mars is a game created by Haemimont (a company that created Tropico series) so you can be sure that the game has a lot of well-developed tycoon elements.
In this game, you are tasked with creating the first colony on the red planet. The task is going to be very hard, but you have the support of a corporation and a reliable fleet of extremely useful robots to set things up for human settlers.
Mars is not a very welcoming place to live, however. First of all you need to create a system of pipes to transport water from underground sources straight to the colony. Then you need to take care of the heat and air. Hydroponic farms need to produce enough food to sustain however many colonist you intend to house. If any part of the process fails, your colonists, all with unique skills and preferences, are going to let you know, possibly by dying
Kenshi it is perhaps the most interesting game on the list because of its rather surprising mix of genres. It is a sandbox free-roam RPG game with colony management mechanics.
A game is designed for a single player and provides you with a campaign in which you decide about almost anything. You can finish the game with a single character or with 50 of them and lead your own group of traders or mercenaries if you want to.
Of course you also get to build a base, develop technologies, and gradually improve your skills. The only advantage your characters have over NPC is that you, the player are controlling them, but mechanically they start from the same level. Kenshi doesn’t look much like RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress, sure, but if it’s emergent narratives that you’re looking for, then Kenshi fully delivers in this area.
Oxygen not Include
If you think that other games on the list might be a little bit too easy for you, then Oxygen not Included is definitely going to test your skills.
One of the coolest features of this game is the way it models the behavior of gases which tend to build up in various, usually harmful way inside an asteroid. That’s right, in ONI you’re establishing a base inside a hunk of rock hurtling through space, where oxygen, warmth, and comfort are mostly absent.
Thankfully your colonists are resourceful, and with some practice you can turn the fluid mechanics to your advantage, letting harmful gasses accumulate in a chamber with some gizmo that lets you make something useful from them. Thermodynamics can be a friend or an enemy as well. Oxygen Not Included features a very pleasant degree of simulation. Thankfully the cartoonish, expressive colonists take some of the edges off.
If you were looking for a city builder game that takes a lot from Minecraft (for example in terms of graphics) then Stonehearth is going to be a perfect choice for you.
The premise of the game is basic. You need to help a small group of settlers establish a new home in a beautiful land. Provide them with shelter, take care of food supplies and provide your villagers with tasks. Simple enough.
The settlers also can get better and better at their jobs, which sometimes allows them to branch out and start a more advanced career. The only problem is that you need to provide them with relevant tools, which may require some planning. Stonehearth is also designed by being moddable in mind, and it even has a Steam Workshop integration. If you’ve always wanted a mix of Minecraft blockiness and settlement sim, give Stonehearth a chance.
|Genre:||Factory simulation, real-time strategy|
Factorio is a game that takes a different route in comparison to all the previously mentioned titles. You are not in the control of a village, space station or prison in this game.
No, you simply take care of a factory. You need to create a proper transport of resources to the factory at first, then you create manufacturing processes, analyze new technologies and so long and so forth
The entire game is presented through the isometric camera. The game itself is not very hard…except when you want it to be, because there doesn’t appear to be an upper level of complexity. Dedicated players with an eye and mind for elaborate processes have been able to create not only exceptionally efficient supply chains, but also make them look good. If you’re into complex sims rather than emergent stories, Factorio will be a fine addition to your library.
Colony Survival has a very interesting approach to the idea of base building. The very first thing which is going to surprise you is the fact, that it is actually an FPP base building game.
Developed only by two people, the game puts you in the shoes of a colony leader. Your colony starts as a relatively small place with only a few workers. However, you can develop it into a really big and modern place.
At the same time though, you need to protect your settlers from monsters. As you develop your colony, they are going to attack more and more often. Hence, you need to build castle walls to survive these attacks. Do you think that you can handle this mission? If you can’t do it alone, then maybe you could invite your friends for a friendly co-op session? Rome wasn’t built in a day, not by one person.
As you can see, there are many games similar to both the RimWorld and the Dwarf Fortress. And all of them are worth checking out. Hopefully, you’ve found something to keep you occupied for the coming months as you observe your colonists living their lives in elaborate bases you helped them create. Maybe even not all of them will die to an unexpected lava flow opening in their backyard, or during a braver defense of their hometown against rabid badgers.