Dwarf Fortress’s enormous graphical overhaul, and accompanying Steam release, has seen the 16-year-old game receive triumphant reviews. Currently sporting 4,634 “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews on Steam, people are delighted. But one person is dubious. Posting to the roguelike game’s discussions on Steam, they asked, “have all those ppl been...waiting for an opportunity to pay $30?” To which over 1,000 people have replied, “Yes.”
Since 2006, Dwarf Fortress has offered an ever-more deep simulation of dwarven life, in a true Rogue-like that now features NPCs with vivid personalities, intricate combat, civilization simulation, and a dynamic weather model about as complicated as Mother Nature’s herself. Mercilessly tough, and designed to see you eventually fail, its complexity would take encyclopedia to convey.
Under the title of “watch the review count,” one EternalNooblet decided something was suspiciously amiss about this sudden popularity of this freshly released Steam game.
Continuing on from their title, they said, “and tell me how sane ppl can post a gushing positive 10/10 game of the century review on day 1.” Noticing that the number of reviews was going up incredibly fast, they added, “20 mins ago the count was 1700, now it’s 1900.” And then the post author asked the question for the ages:
have all those ppl been playing free DF for 25 years and just waiting for an opportunity to pay $30?
“Yes,” replied Steam account Frank McFuzz. “Yes,” followed up Jinkl. “Yes,” was the answer from Ferien auf dem Innenhof. Meanwhile, dneb2000 responded with, “Yes.”
EternalNooblet was not put off. “literally in the time since posting the thread the count went from 1900 to 2000.”
And yet the yesses kept coming. And coming. And coming. At the time of writing, the conversation is on its 84th page, with 15 replies per page.
Dwarf Fortress, in development since 2002, was first made available to the public in 2006. At that point, the ASCII-rendered game was free to download, although welcomed donations from anyone who might be enjoying it. And that has remained the case until yesterday.
Earlier this year, Kotaku alerted readers that the two-brother team behind the game could really do with some cash, following a sudden drop in donations. Wonderfully, Kotaku readers rallied, and we heard back that they’d seen a huge spike in donations coming in from our excellent audience, keeping the pair safe from mounting medical bills until this month’s release.
What poor EternalNooblet failed to recognize is just how much love there is out there for Dwarf Fortress, and brothers Tarn and Zach Adams. This most astonishingly huge and complex RPG has been the model for a generation of follow-ups, not least Rimworld and Minecraft. However, it’s lack of graphical fidelity, and tough-as-tungsten-nails difficulty, likely held it back from receiving the global adoration of the franchises that followed. None of that stopped a huge community growing around the ever-developing, outstandingly intricate dungeon explorer, which is now delighting in throwing money at its creators for this brand new version.
Since I started writing this post, that number of positive reviews has reached 4,727. Something must be up! Are people really loving this game so much?!