Clockwork Empires Leaving Early Access This Month

Dungeons of Dredmor devs Gaslamp Games are almost ready to launch their next game, Clockwork Empires [official site]. I see you turn to your pal and tap your temple in a crude “the old dear’s off her nut” gesture, because you remember it came out years ago, but nah that’s all been ‘earliest access‘ then early access. Come October 26th, it’ll be properly out, ready for all to start building a steampunk colony on a frontier teeming with Lovecraftian nfluences. Enjoy watching your little townsfolk fend off fishmen, form cults, lose their minds, and maybe turn to cannibalism. Still, survival’s survival?

Clockwork Empires sends players as an agent of Victorian empire steampunk… thing to a new land, to oversee a new colony. As you often will in town-builders, you slowly build up and tech up, working the land and trying to survive while improving your settlement and keeping its residents happy. There’s a touch of The Sims in that, a bit of Dwarf Fortress (though less complex, obvs), with people having their own personalities, interests, and mental state. All of which may be adversely affected by the eldritch powers in this strange land.

Fishmen already inhabit the land and might be none too pleased to see you, your townsfolk may join cults and spread their dark influence, and hey, if you run out of food, there’s always long pig.

We’ve not had a good look at Clockwork Empires since 2014 so I’m curious to see how it turns out. Here’s a trailer showing off bits in May’s beta build:


  1. bandertroll says:

    I just want next Dungeon-of-Dredmor-like roguelite-like roguelike.

  2. davethejuggler says:

    Was just thinking about this game yesterday, but couldn’t remember the name. Looking forward to playing it.

  3. Zanchito says:

    Very much looking forward to your thoughts on this one and how it compares to Rimworld.

  4. Neurotic says:

    Anything that scratches my Space 1889 itch gets three thumbs up from me.

  5. darkath says:

    After so much time in early access, it sadly fails to live up to the original promises and expectations. I love gaslamp though and their support during EA has been stellar.
    Main issue is that they have been bogged down by core engine issue for so long in alpha it delayed a lot of the actual features and gameplay implementation.
    Also game design of the game has seemingly never really be set in stone, resulting in lot of back and forth on core gameplay elements, the result being it’s not quite clear what kind of game they want to be.
    It has elements from survival management games like Rimworld, some production chains principles from Factorio, it borrows from Anno with the needs of the populations. But it’s neither of these game and fails to implement the borrowed concepts in a cohesive and compelling gameplay.

    • P.Funk says:

      I’ve been so worried that this is going to be the case with this game as I’ve wanted it to be a success but have stayed away until it was more well rounded.

    • TheOx129 says:

      I feel like the Halloween season has sunk its claws into – or, rather, wrapped its tentacles around – me, because I’m seeing more than a few comments around expressing critiques similar to yours, yet a part of me is still compelled to get the game. Part of it is definitely that I like Gaslamp too and they seem to have been pretty open and candid about development, yet I still feel that it’s some seasonal impulse for the most part.

      …I’m gonna buy it, aren’t I?

      • frightlever says:

        Why not wait for some reviews first? Never mind seeing a lot of negative opinions about the amount of content, I haven’t read anything positive about the current state of the game, apart from how open, honest and extensive the dev blogs are. So I guess if you want to reward that, then buy it before finding out more about the gameplay.

        • AngoraFish says:

          I think he said that he has read a lot of reviews. Player reviews, sure, but I for one tend to find these significantly more compelling that those produced by gaming media with a vested interest in hyping the product.

        • TheOx129 says:

          As AngoraFish suspects, I’ve read quite a few player critiques, many of which have actually been quite helpful (like darkath’s) and specifically illustrate the various issues with the game. Plus, some have come from posters that I generally trust on forums that I frequent, so it’s not like I’m going in blind.

          It helps that the only other things on my radar this month are the new EU4 DLC and *maybe* The Silver Case. Anyway, I’ll still probably wait for release, but even with full crunch going, only so much can change in a few weeks.

        • darkath says:

          There was and probably will be a ton of commitment from the team, they held a strict schedule of one major update each month for more than 55 months which is very rare for an Early Access, sadly as I said above, most of the update were iterative in nature and were changing existing elements of the game and engine rather than adding to it (which was the case with KSP that constantly added content through its EA).
          I would say their mistake was launching in “earliest access” what was not much more than a broken prototype and had to build and update it from this shaky foundation, rather than taking the time to solidify the engine and game core before releasing it to the masses.
          In this case, the development process and following the evolution of the game was probably more interesting than the game itself though. A pity.

          • Angstsmurf says:

            Since the axing of the card-based combat in Sunless Sea, I’m very much against changes to core mechanics during early access.

      • pepperfez says:

        They’ve probably earned the sticker price from their devblog alone, regardless of how the game turns out.

    • wfw-rps says:

      thanks for the concise review

    • Steravel says:

      I’ve not played it for a few months. But even fairly recently they were still having crippling issues with save/load times and memory management that would never fly in a retail game. Unless they’ve made massive strides in the technical department in that time, it’s difficult to see how this game is ready for prime time.

      Which is a shame, because there is a great game lurking underneath the lack of polish. It’s got great character and humor, and it plays similarly to a lot of other games I enjoy. There wasn’t, at last check in, quite enough feature depth to support the game they seem to want to make, though. If they had another year to work on the game, I would be very optimistic about it.

      I’d compare it more to something like Evil Genius, than to Dwarf Fortress. I really wish people would remove Dwarf Fortress as a standard of comparison for certain games. *Nothing* is like Dwarf Fortress, and no retail game with practical financial concerns probably ever can be. That game is a sheer act of will, and a lifetime project. They can only be like certain *aspects* of Dwarf Fortress.

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I started it up a few weeks ago and went, ahh i see it’s still a few years off, ohh well i’ll check progress again in a month or so.

    Ohh Dear…

  7. kabill says:

    This forum thread, notably Nicolas’s posts – may be worth reading for those interested in the game but concerned about it’s current state:

    link to

    The inference I have drawn from this is that v1.0 marks the point at which the game is sufficiently stable and carrying sufficient content to be considered a ‘completed game’ rather than the point at which the game is considered actually finished.

    That’s not to say therefore that you should definitely go and buy it. But if you choose not to, it may nevertheless be worth revisiting in 6 or so months to see if it’s grown.

    • pepperfez says:

      I seem to recall the initial release of Dredmor had some pretty crippling balance issues that were subsequently corrected. Gaslamp are pretty good about getting stuff up to their standards.

  8. jrodman says:

    Will this game have a manual?