ASCII character-based fantasy strategy game | Download Product Review - CNET

ASCII character-based fantasy strategy game

If you're old enough to remember Rogue and Dungeon, you'll love Dwarf Fortress.

Dwarf Fortress is a throwback to the single-player fantasy games of the 1980s, with graphics (or lack thereof) to match. Dwarf Fortress generates a new world every time you play. The world is rather elaborate, with elevation maps, rainfall and drainage overlays, vegetation growth, and several other environmental factors all available to allow you to figure out how to control the land. Add in the basic game mechanic of a bunch of dwarves who need to build a fortress and search for gold in the mountains and you have a rather in-depth simulation crossed with a strategy game.

Dwarf Fortress graphics are all ASCII. The color codes and characters used represent the type of terrain. You are represented by a single ASCII character on the larger map. If you played a game called Rogue back in the '80s or early '90s, this is all familiar. For those who are used to high-resolution graphics, this game is going to be just plain weird.

There's a lot of hidden depth to Dwarf Fortress, but it is going to take a good bit of time to learn the game and figure out strategy. If you can get by the lack of graphics, there's rewarding gameplay here. We have had games that last a month of regular play, but you have to be willing to immerse yourself in the fantasy and commit to the game to get the most out of it. For old-school gamers, Dwarf Fortress is a hit. For others, it may be too unusual.

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