Odd Realm, by the game’s own admission, is very much inspired by Dwarf Fortress and Rimworld. Unknown Origin Games thankfully knows that any good inspired game needs to still fill its own niche or tell its own story to not just be some lame ripoff. It’s clear from this very early point in development that Odd Realm is comfortable being in the same setting as Dwarf Fortress but can do its own thing without having to totally rely on its inspiration for where to go. The only “issue” is that it is very early in development, and the rough around the edges definitely shows.
Odd Realm starts off much like Dwarf Fortress or Rimworld, giving the player many options on who and what to take on their expedition, a procedurally generated map with different biomes and neighbors, and a relative lack of hand-holding. The implied ‘goal’ of the game is to build a home for your settlers, gather resources both above and below ground, make more weapons, tools, and other items, and repeat until satisfied. Currently, the only thing to build up to is equipping your settlers with powerful armor and weapons so that you can defend against attacks or delve deep within the earth and fight some Totally Not Kobolds™. All your settlers’ tasks (aside from the mundane necessities like eating and sleeping) are given via a Jobs taskbar, from which you can instruct your settlers to do certain things on certain places. Much like Rimworld, the settlers most suited for the job (or whoever you’ve set to do the job regardless of how well they’re suited for it) will set off to do so when they have the time. Playing in 4x speed, no single task takes very long at all, keeping the pace of the game very high. Some tasks can be automated, such as farming by putting a ‘Farm’ room on crops or by setting an auto job for a certain item/resource so that your settlers always make more until they have that amount stored. The game functions rather well for the state it is in, but there are plenty of non-obvious bugs and UI issues that need to be fixed.
For starters, everything takes far too many clicks to get done. If you’re looking around the map and decide you want to build a new room inside your mountain home, you must click on Jobs, then Build, then you either have to filter the items by type or scroll through the rather large list of items, click on what you want, and then get frustrated because when you go to place the item, you realize there is a settler within one block of where you want to place it, so instead of just letting you place the item, you instead select that settler. If a settler isn’t in your way, there’s a chance that a single piece of plant fiber is on that specific block, making it apparently impossible for your settlers to figure out how to build there until it is moved. Despite being influenced by Rimworld, Odd Realm has so far neglected to implement possibly the best and most useful feature Rimworld has: the Draft system. Sure, Odd Realm does allow you to manually move any settler and then give then a Hold Position order, but giving them any other order will make them forget about holding position. This makes it a poor system for when you want to break into an enemy dungeon underground. Simply finding your warrior settlers can be one hell of a task as well. If you suddenly find yourself under attack, a time when seconds matter, it can be rather annoying to pause the game, go to your settler info, click on the button that pans the map over to your warrior, and have the information screen for that settler completely block your vision of that settler. This would be excusable if the game selected the settler or even showed you specifically where they were by making them glow or something along those lines. Not only does the game not show you where they are, but it also changes the information screen to be about that settler specifically, requiring another two clicks to pan to another settler. There are other issues and bugs that seem to come and go, like settlers not being able to use or access storage that has a floor build order underneath them or panning to a settler making the game go from paused to 1x speed, but these issues all strike me as products of the game’s infancy rather than the developer’s skill or the game’s quality.
The pixelated design Odd Realm employs, while definitely a step up from the ASCII art in Dwarf Fortress, takes a bit to get used to. Things can become hard to tell apart if they have similar sprites (humans are generally around 20 pixels), and they’re usually not big enough to have much room for distinction. Lighting appears to be more to annoy or disrupt the player than the settlers themselves, making it difficult for you to see what’s what underground while human settlers seemingly have no issues digging in the dark. The music is repetitive but subtle, as one might expect from this sort of game, making it easily mutable and replaceable with your own music. Sound altogether is largely unimportant, since any important events will either take control of the camera and show you it, or will show up in the notification bar at the bottom.
If you’re the trusting or altruistic sort, the game is very cheap to purchase on either itch.io (you still get a Steam key) or Steam. Rimworld took almost five years to be completed, and it’s arguably the greatest colony sim games in existence with a 97% positive rating on Steam out of nearly 30,000 reviews. Odd Realm may not rise to that point, since one would be hard-pressed to find any other game with as spotless and expansive a track record as Rimworld, but with appropriate time and money, it could unleash some potential and grow to be a great high fantasy survival sim.
Author’s Note: A key has been supplied by the developer for the purpose of review.