How does your child play this? Alone, with friends, with family? How did they discover it and what kept them coming back for more?
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You select a location in the randomly generated map to start building with your seven dwarves and then get to work digging into the mountain to establish a successful colony, combat threats like goblin invasions, generate wealth and generally take care of the dwarves. You work to both thrive and survive, but if your entire colony is defeated you have to start again.
You designate tasks to your dwarves, matching both ability and personality: stone-working, woodworking, metalworking, farming, and crafting. As you add specific areas and workshops to your fortress other activities can be assigned that further your survival and standing in the game: leather-working, butchery, clothes-making, gem cutting, glassmaking, and pottery. And of course, you need to be able to defend yourself with metal industry that produces weapons and armour for the military as well as traps for defence.
Even more unusual is that each of your dwarf's mental and physical attributes are unique and tracked. Not only physical appearance, like hair and facial features but abilities, individual preferences and desires also play a part and influence their relationships and willingness to work with others in the colony.
Although there are newer versions that offer graphical representations of the world and the dwarves, the game is known for its lack of realism that used text-characters to show what was happening. For example, a dwarf is a coloured, bearded smiley-like character and various other letters represent animals.
The result is a unique and fascinated open-ended game where you decide how to manage your colony and advance your standing. Beyond the simple visuals, it's deeply complex with various challenges and threats similar in style to Minecraft.
Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Dwarf Fortress 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 10 months ago.
The develop describes the content as follows. "Dwarf Fortress contains textual descriptions of violence, and static 2D sprites that may have violent ends. Alcohol consumption is required for a dwarven fortress to run smoothly, as described in text. Dwarves can experience mental anguish, and in extreme cases this can lead to them taking their own lives or the lives of others."
11+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. You need to be able to deal with a high level of complexity and a huge number of options to progress well with the game. Younger players may have fun dealing with some of the systems, but to get the most out of the game you need good skills in forward planning, making good decisions under pressure and visualising creative solutions to challenges.
Release Date: 08/08/2006, updated in 2022
Out Now: PC
Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7
Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds
Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid, Open World and Pixels