RimWorld Console Edition translates fantastic storytelling to new platforms, albeit awkwardly – Review
Don’t get attached; your colonies will die. It’s just a matter of when.
Many people believe that the universe is the result of a chaotic series of events that have no hand or meaning driving them, pushing one way or the other. Stars are born and die, and the life on the planets surrounding them doesn’t matter at all. It may seem harsh, but it’s fair. No one gets any special treatment. Events simply occur, people make choices, and we all have to deal with the outcome. This is the experience that RimWorld brings to life, a chaotic story simulation in which you try to keep a single group of people alive as long as you can on a world that doesn’t care about them.
Related: How to build a basic killbox in Rimworld – Killbox design ideas
Watch stories unfold on a new platform
RimWorld is a sci-fi colony simulator that’s unlike anything else. Each colony begins with a set number of colonists, which you can customize every aspect of to create masters of all trades or completely unhinged individuals. You then choose the storyteller you want, which determines how frequently random events will occur, along with the difficulty. These choices define what sort of story you’re going to tell, and make no mistake, you’re going to watch it unfold rather than control it.
You can’t tell your colonists exactly what to do in this game. Instead, you can set a schedule for work, recreation, and sleep, fill up a board with jobs like construction, harvesting, and hunting, and wait for your colonists to obey. For the most part, they do, and while you’ll need to rejig your schedule to compensate for each colonist’s needs, things mostly take care of themselves. However, when random events start to crop up, your story can take a drastic turn for the worse.
Take our first playthrough as an example. Things started off well, with our three colonists building a small home and some beds. A group of man-eating bunnies appeared, but we fought them off pretty easily. One colonist needed medical attention for a while but was soon patched up. We continued building, cooking, and researching. Everything was great. At some point, our dear horse Felicia started to wander off, so we built her a pen to keep her safe. Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to feed her.
In the meantime, a wild woman appeared with a herd of animals. Naturally, we captured her, put her in a small jail, and tried to force her to join our colony. A mad rat then attacked and ripped out a colonist’s left eye. It was around this time we realized that poor Felicia was about to die of starvation, so we set her free to roam the wilds instead of slaughtering her for food. Outraged by the freedom a horse had over her, our wild woman prisoner then broke out of her cell and started beating the life out of Felicia before the two promptly collapsed from shock.
We recovered the wild woman, but both she and Felicia died from their injuries. It was at this point that a heat wave struck and rendered all of our colonists incapacitated because they didn’t stay in the shade. A kind stranger showed up to try to recover the bodies and get everyone back on their feet. Sadly, a local thug came along, beat them up, and carried them away to eat or enslave them. That’s where the story ended, with three baked colonists murdered by a force they had no control over: The sun.
Sometimes more of the same is better
There’s so much more that can happen in RimWorld, making every playthrough feel like a truly unique adventure. There were groups of people walking past we could have fought or traded with, magnificent and rare beasts we could have tried to slaughter, and a winter that threatened to force us to eat Felicia. This is where RimWorld has always excelled, and it’s the same with the Console Edition.
Porting a PC game to consoles and remapping the controls to suit is no easy feat for any developer. It’s a curse that plagues almost every 4X title, and RimWorld is sadly no exception. While the control scheme on the PlayStation 5 — which is the version we played for this review — is good enough, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The shortcuts utilized to move between menus, change game speed, and cycle through each screen are far from intuitive and take a great deal of getting used to. For example, there’s a menu each for managing your colonists and your building projects, but since only icons are used for each sub-menu, you end up scrolling through all of them until you find the one you’re after.
The game’s visuals have never pushed boundaries, with everything rendered in 2D using simple textures. Your imagination and the random events fill in where state of the art technology would in other titles. You won’t walk away with your mind blown about how powerful your console is after a session with RimWorld Console Edition, but you will have stories that no one else could ever tell.
With that said, performance never even crossed our minds as we watched triumphs and horrors unfold on-screen. The game runs well because there’s no reason it shouldn’t. The soundtrack comes in and out to give you a little something to spice up the dull moments, but most of the time, you’ll be too busy agonizing over why someone is having a mental breakdown over a toilet to worry about the ambiance.
As we’ve alluded to, the main source of exasperation is the disconnect between being able to instruct your colonists to do certain things and having to wait for them to do others based on the schedule you’ve implemented at the time. It’s frustratingly unclear as to what you can and can’t control in excruciating detail and what you’ve got to leave to the colonists for when they feel like it. However, this is more of a bug than a feature, and it’s one that you’ll come to love the more you play and the better you become at predicting your colonist’s needs and triggers.
Related: How to make a hospital in Rimworld
While RimWorld Console Edition doesn’t push any boundaries the PC version of the game hadn’t already, it’s still worth your time. It’s unlike anything else on the market, and the uncompromising vision to provide players with a way to tell stories instead of controlling them is fascinating and engaging. Just one more hour is never enough, so you’ll always put in another.
Despite having a wonky control scheme, this is still RimWorld — it’s still good after almost a decade of development alongside its community, and it will give you hours of joy if you’re willing to invest yourself emotionally in your colony.
8 / 10
|+||Hundreds of hours of content through story variations|
|+||You can never predict how your story will unfold|
|+||Keeps you satisfied but always wanting a little more|
|–||The control scheme is too complicated|
|–||A much more in-depth tutorial is required for basic knowledge|