Why on Earth did I start playing this game, simply why? Oh, do not take this as a negative comment, I mean that in the most positive and excellent way. Allow me to elaborate.
I introduce to you Gnomoria, a sandbox village management game by Robotronic Games. Gnomoria tasks you with taking a small wandering group of gnomes who have left their home kingdom in order to carve out a settlement and form a kingdom of their very own. You accomplish this by utilizing the gnomes, as well as their initial supplies. You begin in a randomly generated land, and from there, you must create a home for your little guys. Carve out a home for your gnomes and generally create anything you desire for your kingdom. In order to do this though, you need gnomes with the appropriate skills and tools in order to get your kingdom started. Any mining and digging requires a pickaxe, a gnome with good mining skills, forestry requires woodcutters and axes, farmland requires seeds, and able workers.
Does this formula sound familiar to anyone? If it does, you may very well be a Dwarf Fortress player, or at the very least heard of it. Gnomoria is heavily inspired by Dwarf Fortress, and it emulates many gameplay aspects of the game, but with its own brand of twists on the formula. I myself am an avid Dwarf Fortress fan, and I have logged countless hours creating kingdoms, building them up as marvelous beacons of wonder and wealth, and inevitably watching the kingdom crumble and fall as is the norm in any game of Dwarf Fortress. With each fallen kingdom I strive to build another, then another, and another, ad infinitum until I realize how much time I have spent on my virtual kingdoms – the countless hours of lost sleep on minutiae. Along comes Gnomoria, with the same addicting village management and kingdom creation gameplay. Again I must reiterate, why on Earth did I start playing this game?
While I do call upon Gnomoria‘s similarities with Dwarf Fortress, it creates its own brand of gameplay, and does so in a much prettier package. It uses a 2D isometric overhead style, complete with pixel sprites for every character and object. Gnomoria also sports a very impressive soundtrack. It has an assortment of music to accompany you whilst you build your kingdom. Easy-going and even jolly rhythms play while you build, mine, and farm; if goblins show up it will change to an ominous tone to signify their presence. The unique thing about the soundtrack is that it comes in two varieties, Classic and Orchestral. The Classic version uses an 8-bit style reminiscent of the NES era of games, whereas the Orchestral uses a more modern synthesized track to emulate an orchestral piece. This is an extremely nice touch, and the 8-bit style is a great nod to the retro era of games.
The gameplay is nice as well, and you create your kingdom by designating areas with various work commands. Then you create workshops which can create various items for your gnomes, followed by your kingdom’s source of food and drink. It all starts simple at first, but as you progress in the game you require more specialized workshops and tools, which of course needs a skilled gnome for that particular workshop. Certain items may need multiple workshops before it can be created, with more valuable items needing more additional steps. Thankfully, Gnomoria provides a bit of automation while creating these. As long as you have the required workshops and resources, you can have the items automatically requested for creation. Simply request an item to be made at the correct workshop, and after some time going you have your item, all made auto-magically and without the manual tedium.
From there on, everything is up to you as you cater to your own whim and fancies. Create an underground metropolis worthy to be called a kingdom or create an imposing fortress up on the surface. That is the joy of this game, seeing as it has no end goal to speak of, the fun of the game is what you make of it.
While a lot of fun can be provided from Gnomoria, it does suffer from a few problems.The pacing seems a bit slow, certain tasks often get ignored from while gnomes putter off to do other things, and large maps tend to crash the game. I have also found that certain resources have bottlenecks that can severely stifle your kingdom, even to the point of failure. I have lost a kingdom due to my gnomes bleeding to death from simple injuries, simply because I ran out of bandages. Bandages are created at the tailor, but I lacked the materials needed for the creation of the workshop or its supplies, so all my gnomes eventually died off one by one.
This game may not be for everyone as it has a bit of a learning curve but once you get the basics down it gets easier. If you are a fan of Dwarf Fortress or sandbox village management games, give Gnomoria a go. The game is still under development and is currently available for purchase at various online distributors.
Still unsure of Gnomoria? Let me give you an insight on my time with it. So far I have 19+ hours logged into Steam, this is the time while logged online. I do the majority of my gaming offline from Steam, so the majority of my game time has not been logged. That 19+ hours is merely a fraction of the total time I have put into the game. Heck, even a severe power outage problem in my community wasn’t enough to deter me from it. Rolling blackouts that lasted over a week plagued my hometown, and I still snuck in a few hours of game time during that period. I’m surprised I managed to pry myself away from the game long enough to write this article.
Now if you will excuse me, my kingdom needs some attention.
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