Dwarf Fortress was released on Steam and Itch.io a few weeks ago after more than 16 years in a public alpha phase. During that time, the dwarven management survival simulation game developed a cult following that influenced such classic indie titles as Minecraft and Rimworld. It was even inducted into the Museum of Modern Art in 2012 for its exhibit on video game history. So finally having a commercial release was a really big deal for Dwarf Fortress.
The game features extremely complex interactions between individual dwarves and the environment, such that it's really hard to describe without using a few pages. Instead, I'll let the Steam reviews do the talking to give you a sense of what Dwarf Fortress is all about.
"Two giant boars wandered in and ate a bunch of children," reads one review. "They then also killed and ate three dwarfs who attempted to help the children. My mayor then walked up to the giant boars and killed them both with her bare hands. She has now won six straight elections in a row."
Another review is slightly darker, but no less representative of what you can expect: "My dwarf got ambushed by a giant bat within an inch of his life, and had his spinal cord severed so he couldn't walk. minutes away from death, he became creatively inspired, dragged his half-lifeless corpse up thirty flights of stairs, crafted a masterwork coffin, and claimed it as a family heirloom. Then he died, I threw his body in a pit, and sold his coffin for several thousand dollars."
Before releasing on Steam with actual graphics, Dwarf Fortress used ASCII art (basically just colored text symbols) as a placeholder. However, because of the game’s extended development, many fans fell in love with the ASCII art style and actually resented the animated tiles that arrived with the game’s full release. Thankfully, developer Bay 12 Games are very attentive to their fans and have released a new update that allows players to swap between the modern(ish) graphics and the classic ASCII art in a new toggle in the graphics settings.
The latest update also added new custom symbols and enabled Steam trading cards, too. Dwarf Fortress is available now on Steam and Itch.io.
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