Dwarf Fortress

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a game by Bay 12 Games
Platform: PC (2021)
Editor Rating: 9.3/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 1 vote
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See also: Simulator Games, Sandbox Games, RPGs, Pixel Art Games, Survival Games, Procedural Generation Games, Games Like People Playground, Games Like Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, World Hardest Game, Games Like Mount and Blade, Games Like Stonehearth, Games Like Black and White
Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress

What can we say about Dwarf Fortress that hasn't been said already? Finally, after 16 years of public alpha, numerous awards, overwhelming popularity, and inclusion into the canon of modern gaming history, the game gets an official release. The colony simulator's long development cycle has been well-documented, being the brainchild of a two-person team aiming to bring the simulation genre to a higher standard with extreme intricacy.

If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of players that's played Dwarf Fortress since its alpha release in 2006, you'll probably know that the game is one of the most detailed sims out there. Should you haven't indulged in this experience, there's never been a better time to try it. So how does the title fare in its current state as it finally gets the green light?

Diggy-Diggy Hole

For those who need an overview of Dwarf Fortress, the game is a colony sim where you'll generate pixelated worlds and manage your fortress to help your dwarves survive. You'll have to face threats of famine, collapse, and dragons, where players will use all the tools and abilities to keep your community at their best. Even today, there isn't such a meticulously detailed environment to address the obstacles.

And is that a bad thing? Not at all; in fact, the opposite. Fueling your dwarven mining operation with hunks of meat and beer makes up only a fraction of the entertainment within Dwarf Fortress. Everybody has their personality that you'll have to manage to keep them happy. You'll need to build many structures to ensure your colony's integrity. And you'll have to curate a local culture that prevents these dwarves from turning on each other.

Yes, some may argue that the pixelated visuals are incredibly dated. However, it hardly matters when you're busy trying to expand a thriving colony. Fending off other civilizations, monsters, or the perils of the wilderness will keep players more than occupied, where the constant struggle for survival is strangely addictive. The ultimate satisfaction comes in seeing your dwarves develop their own culture and gain a rich personality.

So all considered, the accolades that have followed Dwarf Fortress over the years are justified. If you've ever enjoyed a colony sim and have yet to play this one, this title inspired some of the most successful genre entries today. The whole prospect and layout of the game may initially overwhelm you. Still, the richness and wonders of each generated world will have you hooked nearly immediately.

Dwarfing Expectations

You've probably indulged in games like Rimworld. Let's take a moment to appreciate that the game wouldn't exist without the inspiration of Dwarf Fortress, where direct influence is documented. The madness and dedication behind the game's development over the last twenty years led the title to its unbridled success today. It still stands tall as it gets an official release at the end of 2022.


So we don't need to say why you should invest in the game here. Dwarf Fortress is one of those rare titles where you have to play the game to understand how good it is. Almost every player could be entertained for hours, even days. Or possibly forever.

Round-Up - Pros & Cons


  • Probably the most intricate, eventful colony sim ever
  • A unique experience seeing your dwarves rise from obscurity to nobility
  • Rich, randomly generated worlds


  • Visuals seem dated against modern colony sims

Download Dwarf Fortress


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Dwarf Fortress is a game that defies easy categorization. It is not just a game, but a whole simulated world that has been created and updated by two brothers, Tarn and Zach Adams, since 2003. Dwarf Fortress is a complex construction/management/roguelike simulation that challenges players to build a fortress and help their dwarves survive against a myriad of threats, such as starvation, dragons, madness, and more.

The Beauty of Procedural Generation

One of the most impressive aspects of Dwarf Fortress is its procedural generation. Every time you start a new game, you can generate a unique world with its own history, geography, civilizations, cultures, creatures, and more. You can explore the world map and choose where to embark with your initial group of seven dwarves. You can also play in adventure mode, where you can create your own character and roam the world as an adventurer.

The world of Dwarf Fortress is richly detailed and dynamic. The game tracks hundreds of factors, such as weather patterns, rock types, animal behaviors, plant growths, trade relations, wars, legends, artifacts, musical forms, poetry styles, and much more. The game also generates random events and surprises that can affect your fortress or your adventurer in unexpected ways.

The game’s graphics are minimalist and pixelated by default, but they convey a lot of information and charm. You can also use various tilesets or mods to enhance the visuals if you prefer.

The Challenge of Management

Dwarf Fortress is not an easy game to learn or master. It has a steep learning curve and requires patience and experimentation. The game has some in-game tutorials to help you with the basics, but you will also need to consult external sources, such as wikis, guides, or forums, to understand the game’s mechanics and nuances.

The game gives you a lot of freedom and options to manage your fortress or your adventurer. You can design your fortress layout, assign jobs to your dwarves, craft items and weapons, trade with other civilizations, dig deep into the earth, or even build mega-projects such as pumps or magma forges.

However, you will also have to deal with many challenges and dangers that threaten your survival and sanity. Your dwarves have their own personalities, needs, preferences, skills, and relationships. They can get hungry, thirsty, tired, injured, sick, or stressed. They can also experience mental anguish, or go insane, or berserk. They can have tantrums, fights, or feuds. They can also create masterpieces, fall in love, have children, or write poetry. You will have to balance their happines and productivity while keeping them safe from external threats such as goblins, vampires, werewolves, dragons, undead, or even clowns (don’t ask). You will also have to deal with internal threats such as floods, fires, cave-ins, miasma, infestations, or sieges. You will inevitably lose some dwarves along the way, or even lose your entire fortress in a spectacular fashion. But that’s part of the fun!

Review: 9/10

Dwarf Fortress is not a game that you win or lose; it’s a game that you experience and tell stories about. The Joy of Discovery Dwarf Fortress is not for everyone. It is complex, difficult, unpredictable, and sometimes frustrating.

However, when it comes to procedurally generated games and world simulation, Draf Fortress is still in an amazing level of detail. It’s similar to what No Man’s Sky originally promised of having a world that’s actually full of life.


It is also rewarding, immersive, creative, and endlessly fascinating. It is a game that offers infinite hours of gameplay and replayability. It is a game that lets you discover new things every time you play. It is a game that lets you create your own stories and share them with others. It is a masterpiece of world simulation that deserves recognition and appreciation.


  • Amazing procedural generation
  • Richly detailed and dynamic world
  • Deep and complex simulation
  • Freedom and creativity
  • Immersive and emergent gameplay


  • Steep learning curve
  • Minimalist graphics may be off-putting for some

One of the most compelling and in-depth colony sims ever released, Dwarf Fortress has been the gold standard for simulation games for decades, and this version of the legendary title comes with all the bells and whistles that such an experience deserves. The unforgiving world of Dwarf Fortress now feels even better than ever, thanks to the inclusion of its shiny new pixel art.

A true labor of love, the development of Dwarf Fortress has evolved over the years to become what it is today. Though it takes some time to master all the features the game has to offer, once it finally clicks with you, it becomes one of the most addictive games for fans of colony sims ever released.

Survival of the Fittest

Dwarf Fortress' main objective is quite simple: build the ultimate dwarf society to withstand the dangers of this procedurally-generated world. That sounds easier than it actually is, though, as there are many obstacles in your path to founding the ultimate dwarf colony.

From fire-breathing dragons to starvation and diseases, death comes in many forms in the complex world of Dwarf Fortress. The DNA of this game can be seen in some other modern colony sim classics, such as Rimworld and Prison Architect – so, if you've ever played one of those games before, you might have a general idea of what to expect with this title.

A Mountain of Loot

Your dwarves live and work inside a randomly-generated mountain. Everything they know can be found within the confines of said mountain, from deadly enemies to precious loot.

Resource gathering is one of the most crucial elements of Dwarf Fortress' gameplay loop. Your citizens need food and beer to prosper, and it will be up to your tactics to come up with the necessary resources in each of your expeditions. As you might have guessed, maintaining a healthy colony grows increasingly more difficult as time passes, especially when basic resources become increasingly rare in the later stages of the game.

Building structures also becomes imperative to establish a healthy colony. From libraries to taverns, every new establishment unlocks a bit more info on the dwarven lore. The result is a rewarding mechanic that might keep some of the more curious players hooked on this addictive game.

Better Than Ever

The development process of Dwarf Fortress is as legendary as the game itself. Since 2003, the game has seen countless revisions and updates that have moved it closer to what the developers originally envisioned.

Now, Dwarf Fortress is finally out of the beta stages, and the result is simply astonishing. With some gorgeous pixel art and a much more refined user interface, this is a version of the game that both newcomers and long-time fans of the project can enjoy.

That said, getting used to some of the game's mechanics still takes a bit of time – but the learning curve and the punishing difficulty are just part of what makes this game so unique in the first place.


Dwarf Fortress is essentially the perfect colony sim. From its outstanding gameplay mechanics to its tough-yet-rewarding difficulty, the game is now better than it ever was during its extensive development.


  • Great user interface
  • Tons of procedurally-generated content
  • Gorgeous 2D pixel art


  • Difficulty can be a bit unforgiving for new players

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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