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Odd Realm is a standout Dwarffortresslike. With Z levels.

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I keep a list of games trying to do what Dwarf Fortress does. Unfortunately the nature of these games is so time consuming that progress on working through it is excruciatingly slow. There are many people going after the ☼management game☼ crown. Odd Realm is one of the more humble efforts, but also one of the most impressive.

There’s a constant sense of dread to Dwarf Fortress. Its uncompromising save system and famous “losing is fun” motto have their upside, but they make for fleeting creations and stressful experiences. I feel less like something terrible is about to happen when I play Odd Realm. Part of that’s probably the cute, if slightly hard to read, super-pixelly graphics and the way your settlers skip merrily around the land. You must do all the things you’d expect from the genre by now. You dig mines and quarries, fell trees, plant crops, and build endless furniture and storage boxes to keep your workshops busy. You hoard far too many carrots, and spend a year supervising the most frustrated chef in history as he cooks nothing else. And then one of your people gets kidnapped. Bums.

There’s less going on, particularly underground, than in Toady One’s mountain lunatic simulator, but it’s achieving more of what it does attempt than a lot of its peers, which tend to overwhelm themselves with ambition, or hew too closely to the mould. Odd Realm still has room to grow throughout the remainder of its early access period, and the mostly solo dev has strongly indicated they’ll open it up to modding once it’s done. That might not be far off, as the latest version is already in the 0.9 range, though there are still more playable races and biomes to work in. There are already humans, who are humans, and creepy undead folk who never need to eat, but can’t sprog off, and have to rely on magical lackeys to get much done. It’s that kind of detail that I like about it. There’s just enough of a spin on things to make it its own Thing, not just an imitator, y’know?

Odd Realm was well worth considering a year ago, and has only got better since. It will definitely provide a nice day or two of entertainment now at the very least. I wish I had more time with it.

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