The 10 best games like Dwarf Fortress

Good alternatives for when your dwarves start bothering you.

Image via Bay12 Games

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The original Dwarf Fortress was one of the pioneers of the genre of deep procedural sims with intricate interactions, colony or base building, and lengthy production chains. Its simplistic graphics gave it a certain charm that made the game look as old-school as can be. After it garnered a cult following, several games have sprung up over the years that tried to emulate its mechanics to greater or lesser effect. So much so, that Dwarf Fortress has been redeveloped for a more modern gaming experience, and now that it’s out, it’s worth checking out some other games that have walked in its footsteps.

Related: Dwarf Fortress beginners guide — tips and tricks for forging your fortress

The best 10 games like Dwarf Fortress

10. Oxygen Not Included

Image via Klei Entertainment

From Klei, the developers that brought us Don’t Starve and Don’t Starve Together, Oxygen Not Included is a whimsical space colony survival sim. You manage a crew of astronauts, engineers, and scientists and have to help them survive and thrive on an alien rock. While played from a 2D side-perspective, this fun game can certainly scratch the same itch after playing Dwarf Fortress and looking for another difficult colony sim to play.

9. Hammerting

Image via Warpzone Studios

If you like dwarves and digging into the mountain, then Hammerting is just what the doctor ordered. This game is still in Early Access, though the ambitious road map promises a lot of what survival base-builders like. You take control of a fledgling dwarven hold, and it’s your job to build it up, help it thrive, and exert your influence on the overworld. You will spend countless hours digging too greedily and too deep.

8. Going Medieval

Image via Foxy Voxel

Going Medieval is an isometric medieval castle building sim, done with voxel graphics that lends itself to some stunning creations. You still have to manage your medieval colony, establish production chains, and even defend yourself from raids. The game is technically still in Early Access, with the road map already planning to add even further and deeper features to the game.

7. Cogmind

Image via Steam

When you first take a look at Cogmind you’ll immediately be reminded of the original Dwarf Fortress graphics. You take the role of a robot whose body is gone and you’re tasked with rebuilding yourself from other robots’ parts. It’s got a strong rogue-like vibe to it while featuring very deep systems that feel very sim-like for its genre. The turn-based game is still in Early Access on Steam but shows a lot of promise already.

6. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead

Image via Cataclysm DDA

For something slightly different, Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a turn-based strategy sim set in a post-apocalyptic world. You need to scavenge and survive while trying to protect your community from monsters that now inhabit the world. Interestingly, this game is not available on any popular launchers (such as Steam, GOG, or Epic) but is actually an open-source free game that clearly shows its Dwarf Fortress inspiration.

5. Stardeus

Image via StardeusGame

It could be easy to dismiss this game as a Rimworld-clone on a spaceship, but it’s much more than that. You take the role of an AI whose space colony ship has been destroyed and it’s your task to put it back together, make it airtight for the surviving crew, and ultimately make it thrive once more. This Early Access title has been very clearly inspired by both Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress, with systems that run deep and require intricate planning on the player’s part.

4. King Under the Mountain

Image via Steam

If you want even more dwarves, digging, and colony development, then check out this Early Access title. After being successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter, King Under the Mountain has been available on Steam. It might look like a Rimworld clone with a Dwarf Fortress setting, but the game is firmly set in a medieval fantasy world and has a very good foundation to become something special with further development and modding.

3. Rise to Ruins

Image via Steam

Going back to pixelated graphics and challenging gameplay, Rise to Ruins is a one-man passion project that makes you a god of an unforgiving world where Corruption spreads to engulf the last vestiges of life. You have to use your wits and magic god-powers to set up the first colonies, survive the nights, and then expand over the continent, pushing back the darkness. A cross between a god-sim, colony management game, and tower defense, Rise to Ruins is a promising title that could benefit from an even deeper management system, but is already on the right track.

2. Rimworld

Image via Ludeon Studios

Back when it first appeared on everyone’s radar, Rimworld has been hailed as the true successor to the original Dwarf Fortress. Over the years, the game has grown and now has several expansions under its belt, vastly improving all portions of the game. It’s beloved for its incredibly complex gameplay systems and unparalleled modding potential. The game keeps growing from strength to strength and has become the benchmark for all deep survival colony sims out there.

1. Dwarf Fortress Classic

Image via Bay12 Games

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with the classic. If you’ve tried the glow-up version of Dwarf Fortress and now wonder where it all started, you can go back and give the original game a try. It’s much less streamlined than what’s available on Steam, but it still has that special charm that made it a cult game in the first place. After all, it grew to become a part of gaming history for a reason.