9 Best Sim Games Like Dwarf Fortress

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Dwarf Fortress is one of the longest-running, most supported games in the industry. It pioneered the colony-based sim genre, and still reigns supreme to this day. From the complex simulation of an entire world to the storytelling, it’s a title anyone should check out.

Best of all, Dwarf Fortress is completely free. Whilst a few titles come close, other colony-based sim games just can’t compete. Watching your kingdom of dwarves grow, each one with a unique background and personality, and dynamic stories unfolding… There’s a reason why it’s so addictive.

The narrative in the game is completely organic, which is what makes it so unique. This type of emergent storytelling is rare in video games, and Dwarf Fortress nails it. It can result in hilarious, heart-warming and even tragic stories.

When it comes to searching for new games like Dwarf Fortress, we’ve got you. Our list of recommendations features titles that share similar themes and elements. Whether it is the deep simulation aspect or unique storytelling systems, these games are just as addictive.

Here are the 9 best sim games like Dwarf Fortress to check out.

RimWorld

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

RimWorld is one of the few other games like Dwarf Fortress that comes close in depth and complexity. Instead of a group of ragtag dwarves, you’ll be in charge of managing a space colony.

If you found Dwarf Fortress’ visuals hard to get over, or the steep learning curve hard, RimWorld is much more accessible. The game features a simpler control scheme and nice-on-the-eyes graphics.

It similarly aims to simulate an entire world, and does so in the same fashion. Even characters have individual simulations, and given unique personality traits.

This allows for the same, distinct storytelling that Dwarf Fortress is famous for. No two colonies are ever the same, and every character is unique, with their own drive, ambitions, and traits.

If you’re coming straight from Dwarf Fortress, you’ll find RimWorld easy to pick up, and the space setting refreshing. On top of that, the game offers plenty in the way of gameplay modifiers.

It utilizes an ‘AI Storyteller’ system, which lets you choose an NPC that changes up your gameplay. They do this by dynamic events, frequency of attacks, and difficulty setting.

The content creation community behind RimWorld also rivals that of Dwarf Fortress. You’ll find plenty of content mods, player-created modifiers, and even complete gameplay overhauls.

Our list of titles similar to RimWorld is also worth reading. It’s filled with other recommendations for games like Dwarf Fortress that aren’t on this list here.

Gnomoria

Available on PC.

If you couldn’t already tell by the title, this is a game that draws heavy inspiration from Dwarf Fortress. However, instead of a fortress full of dwarves, you’ll be overseeing gnome villages.

Gnomoria is a completely procedurally-generated sandbox game. No two playthroughs are the same—everything from the world, characters, and environment are random every time.

This game’s biggest appeal lies in the visuals and accessibility. Most games like Dwarf Fortress have hard learning curves, and feature ASCII graphics, whereas Gnomoria has proper pixel art.

The game nearly isn’t as daunting to jump into. It features proper keyboard and mouse support, which makes controlling your gnome friends easier.

Experienced Dwarf Fortress players will be able to learn this game pretty fast. You start out with a few gnomes, and you’re placed into this fantasy land to build up as you like.

You can go for a peaceful, quiet town, or even build it into a military-focused mega-fortress. Anything you see in-game is breakable, and also repurposed to suit your needs.

As you can expect, Gnomoria goes deep with its mining and crafting systems. Build up structures, craft items for your gnomes, and even set up traps for any potential enemies.

Gnomoria isn’t as hardcore as RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress, but provides the same sense of fun. If you prefer this light-hearted take on the genre, you should read our colony-sims like Prison Architect list.

Conan Unconquered

Available on PC.

If you love the Iron Age fantasy setting of Dwarf Fortress, the battle-focused Conan Unconquered deserves your time. It trades out some simulation elements for more combat-heavy gameplay.

The self-proclaimed ‘first ever survival RTS’ is set in the iconic sword-and-sorcery world of Conan the Barbarian. Whilst you don’t need to be knowledgeable about the franchise, it’s a delight for any fans.

Alone or with a friend in co-op play, you’ll build up a stronghold and fend off enemy hordes. The tyrannical evil wizard is looking to expand and claim your kingdom as his own. Along with managing a colony, you’ll also get to battle enemies in Warcraft 3-like real-time RTS combat.

This also means taking control of a legendary hero, which includes Conan himself.

As the game progresses, you’ll unlock new technology, and advanced structures. There’s also different challenges/goals to conquer, and an endless gameplay mode.

The game allows for infinite replayability, taking from other sim games like Dwarf Fortress with procedural world generation. This also results in every playthrough being unique and different.

Whilst Conan Unconquered doesn’t have the simulation depth that RimWorld or DF offers, its strength lies elsewhere. The full 3D visuals, fast-paced action combat, and strategy battles is where it shines.

Odd Realm

Available on PC.

Below what appears to be a Dwarf Fortress clone in Odd Realm, is a unique and thought-out colony sim. The first aspect that sets itself apart from the rest is the high-fantasy setting.

If you’re a huge fan of fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, you’ll adore this game’s world. The other aspect that makes it special is that you can choose from different races to control.

You aren’t stuck with just dwarves, you can select to play as humans or even orc-like beings. There are multiple fantasy races you can pick to start with— and more are being actively worked on at the time of writing.

Odd Realm is also polished to the brim. Everything from the charming pixel visuals to the controls and mechanics is high-quality. Not a pixel looks out of place or is awkward to control.

For people who love micromanagement, the game’s systems allow you to control every part of your settlement’s lives. There is also a wide variety of in-game content. You can send your settlers off mining, building, and exploring dungeons. There are hundreds of different types of craftable gear, and just as much variety with the structures you can build.

Each race in-game has a different playstyle, and there is a diverse range of procedurally-generated biomes. Whether you want to make a home in tough deserts to the cute tropics.

Odd Realm also does a great job at delivering the signature non-linear storytelling that games like Dwarf Fortress are known for. There are plenty of unique scenarios and encounters based on your decisions.

Kenshi

Available on PC.

Kenshi is a squad-based RPG that is deserving of its place in a games like Dwarf Fortress list. It builds off the same gameplay principles the title is known for, especially the non-linear design.

Instead of a top-down colony-sim, this game drops you into a seamless open world that spans over 870 square kilometers. It’s not just a game, the world is alive and dynamic. It’ll keep changing and growing, regardless of what you do. This game takes place in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, and is a more personal take on the colony-sim genre.

Every character you encounter is completely unique. They have their own backstory and history, as well as personalities. The wound and health system is just as deep as Dwarf Fortress, too.

Have an injured leg? Blood can attract predators, and you don’t tend to it, it can lead to infection and death. This game’s mechanics go just as deep and complex.

The gameplay in Kenshi is completely freeform. Want to build up a massive fortress? Or maybe, you want to be a businessman or thief? You can. This also allows for strong, non-linear stories.

Captured by cannibals? Maybe they’ll eat you, or you’ll be sold off as a slave. This game has no scripted events, everything is dynamic and that is what makes it so unique.

The management simulation aspect in Kenshi isn’t as large as Dwarf Fortress, however, still present. You’ll control your own squad, and you’re free to build up your own villages. If you’re a fan of games like Dwarf Fortress, you’ll love this game.

Timberborn

Available on PC.

Humans are long gone, and now it’s time for animals to rise up. In Timberborn, mankind has long since perished, and now beavers are taking the chance to grow their own civilization.

It’s not just your run-of-the-mill beavers, either. You can choose between one of two beaver factions: the nature-loving Folktails or the industrial-era-driven Iron Teeth.

Each faction offers different gameplay, buildings, and goals—it’s like two games for the price of one. If you enjoyed base-building in games similar to Dwarf Fortress, this is worth your time. This is one of the best building games on Steam.

Timberborn prides itself on its rich and in-depth building mechanics and map editor. You can even create your own map and share it with the community for other people to play on.

The game also adds another dimension to the playing field—literally. It isn’t a top-down, 2D world. Building in Timberborn takes place in a 3D environment, and vertical architecture is just as important.

Whilst the character simulation isn’t as deep compared to Dwarf Fortress, the system is still present. Each beaver has their own needs you’ll have to satisfy and manage, like hunger and happiness.

Along with the essential structures, you’ll need to ensure there are great nightlife activities, and decorations as well as monuments. Beavers do more than just sleep and chomp on wood.

The world of Timberborn is a desert wasteland. You’ll have to put the beaver’s knowledge of dams to use in order to direct river flow and bring new life to the environment. Fans of games similar to Dwarf Fortress will love this.

Oxygen Not Included

Available on PC.

From the brilliant minds behind Don’t Starve comes another hit survival title, Oxygen Not Included. When it comes to games like Dwarf Fortress, this one bleeds charm and personality.

Oxygen Not Included is a fresh take on the colony-sim genre, taking survival to a side-scrolling perspective. You can build extensive bases in a Fallout Shelter-esque fashion.

The game’s visuals are also packed with charm, taking after its Tim Burton-like sibling, Don’t Starve. It’s much more appealing than looking at Dwarf Fortress’ basic ASCII art.

The entire goal of this game is to ensure your colony has enough oxygen to breathe. The gameplay lives up to the title, and you’ll be in charge of managing a space colony.

You’ll have a diverse range of procedurally-generated planets to survive on, all just one-button click away. In Oxygen Not Included, your base design is critical.

Everything right down to the power and even plumbing systems is important. You’ll need to optimize airflow in rooms, allocating resource gathering and building activities, too. You’ll need to always keep an eye on the temperature to ensure your colonists don’t freeze to death or burn alive.

Behind its cute visuals, Oxygen Not Included is a hardcore survival title that you can’t miss out on. Even the colonist’s mental health is a key aspect.

You’ll need to ensure there are plenty of leisure activities and time away from resource gathering to keep them happy. This game is one of the best the colony-sim genre has to offer.

Endzone – A World Apart

Available on PC.

Looking for a darker take on Dwarf Fortress’ signature colony-management gameplay? Endzone – A World Apart delivers on providing a grim, post-apocalyptic world to struggle in.

This game is part survival title and city builder. It takes place in the far future when Earth has been struck by an ecological disaster. It draws from Fallout lore, where survivors hid in underground facilities.

150 years after the disaster, the remaining survivors have decided to resurface—and you’re in charge of building them a new home. The environment is extremely hostile, even the weather is out for you.

This game features a dynamic and completely-simulated world. Every tile has simulated radiation and humidity properties. You’ll be constantly fighting against toxic rain and environments when building.

Threats include raiders, sandstorms, droughts and toxic rain. With over 70 different buildings to select from, you’ll need to build your settlers a new place to call home.

The game also provides various scenarios to play through with win conditions. There’s also a distinct storyline with great writing, and also provides quite a challenge.

Every survivor will also have their own unique talents and professions. As their leader, you’ll need to utilize their skills and ensure they’re being used efficiently.

Endzone delivers a distinct and fresh take on the colony-sim genre. Instead of enemy factions, your enemy is the environment itself. The game is incredibly challenging, and watching your city grow feels rewarding.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

Available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, and Xbox One.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord falls under the same category as Kenshi. It might seem out of place on a games similar to Dwarf Fortress list, but it deserves its spot due to similar gameplay principles.

This title is a sandbox RPG set in a simulated Medieval world. It draws from similar design ideas in regard to non-linear storytelling, and emergent gameplay based on player decisions. It’s one of the best medieval games on Steam.

Bannerlord isn’t strictly a colony simulator, however, nothing is stopping you from founding your own settlement. The entire world is alive and dynamic, and will react to your in-game choices.

Even the economy is realistic—a simulated feudal economy. No two playthroughs are the same, either. The main goal is to conquer the vast continent of Calradia, but how you do it is up to you.

Become a lord and make your way to the top with politics? Or maybe, you decide to forge your way through blood and battles… The character creator is also deep and extensive.

You can build and develop your character to suit your playstyle. Whether it’s more hands-on or passive. You also get full control over controlling your army or squad of followers.

The in-game politics is also fully simulated. If you were a fan of Dwarf Fortress’ setting, you’ll fall in love with Bannerlord’s world and similar sandbox style. The realistic, multi-direction skill-based combat is also a delight.

On top of that, the game has an extensive modding system and built-in Steam Workshop support. From new content to gameplay overhauls, downloading a new mod is just one click away.

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