RimWorld: A Sci-Fi Colony Sim Masterpiece

RimWorld is a treasure on the Steam Deck. It keeps all the intricacies that make the PC version outstanding while adding the appeal of portability. Despite the initial challenge with controls and the demand on battery life, the experience of having such a deep and complex game on a handheld device is nothing short of revolutionary. It's a title I'd readily recommend to any strategy or simulation fan looking for a profound gaming experience on their Steam Deck.
  • Endless depth and replay value
  • Revolutionary strategic mechanics
  • Optimized for seamless controller gameplay
  • Unexpected and intriguing emergent gameplay
  • Consistently keeps you on your toes
  • Remarkably intricate and frequently challenging to understand
  • Artistic style could be off-putting for certain individuals
  • Interface filled with complexity
Story - 9
Gameplay - 10
Controls - 9
Value - 10
Sound/Audio - 9

RimWorld is crafted by Ludeon Studios, and the mastermind behind it is Tynan Sylvester. This indie company really shows what a small but passionate team can do with enough dedication and attention to detail. RimWorld stands as a testament to the dream of colonization in the vastness of space, where survival is not just a challenge but an epic journey. This space Western survival strategy game offers an immersive experience that goes beyond mere gameplay, creating a universe where your decisions truly shape the narrative.


RimWorld doesn’t offer an overarching story; instead, it provides a narrative framework. You’re in charge of colonists who have crash-landed on a remote planet, and from there, it’s all about the stories that spontaneously emerge from the colonists’ interactions and the game’s rich event system. The AI Storyteller is what really brings this game to life, making each playthrough individual and enthralling. The learning curve may be steep initially, but the intuitive interface and simple yet effective graphics ensure a quick grasp of the essentials.


The gameplay on the Steam Deck remains as intricate and addictive as on PC. It’s a colony simulation that strikes a fine balance between complexity and accessibility. The sheer depth of the simulation is astounding whether you’re managing moods, health, or the colony’s social dynamics. The game adapts to the Steam Deck’s hardware, with load times that are snappy and performance that rarely falters, even when the in-game action gets intense.

Individual Needs and Complex Choices

What sets RimWorld apart is its attention to the emotional needs of colonists. Each character has unique desires, leading to intricate decisions that impact the colony’s dynamics. The game’s brilliance lies in its ability to present difficult choices, from managing resources to dealing with captured enemies. These choices are not mere abstractions but genuine challenges that shape the destiny of your colony.

Thriving Colonies and Specialization

As your colony evolves, the game moves beyond mere survival. It transforms into a complex, delicate structure where specialization becomes key. From chefs to cleaners, each colonist plays a vital role in the delicate balance of your thriving community. The depth of gameplay is comparable to grand strategy games like Civilization, but with a hands-on approach that sets RimWorld apart.

Storytelling and Emergent Narratives

The game’s self-proclaimed title of a “story generator” is well-deserved. RimWorld weaves tales of your colonists’ lives, relationships, and struggles as they navigate the challenges of an untamed world. The emergent narratives, often fueled by unexpected events and interactions, provide an endless source of entertainment. The storytelling potential is not just a feature but a core aspect that keeps players coming back for more.

Learning Curve and Console Edition

While the learning curve can be steep, particularly for console players, the depth of gameplay is worth the initial challenge. The console edition retains the essence of the PC version, offering an addicting and enjoyable experience. The only downside, perhaps, is the lack of detailed tutorials, requiring players to invest time in understanding the mechanics.

Visuals and Atmosphere

Visually, RimWorld may not boast cutting-edge graphics, but its charming and iconic style has influenced many in the genre. The 2D, cartoony visuals are not just a stylistic choice but contribute to the game’s accessibility. The diverse assets and atmospheric elements, coupled with surprisingly beautiful lighting effects, create a unique and engaging world.

Immersive Sound and Music

RimWorld’s soundscape is subtle but effective. The atmospheric sound effects, from mining to surgery, add to the immersion and realism of the world, making the daily life of your colonists more satisfying to witness. As for the music, it’s fantastic and has a way of being both unobtrusive and captivating. It complements the game’s pace perfectly, ramping up during tense moments and settling into a soothing rhythm during quieter times.The combination of Western Country and Americana tracks, infused with a touch of synth, forms a captivating backdrop.


To my surprise, RimWorld translates pretty well to the Steam Deck’s control scheme. The touchpads and joystick combine to offer a PC-like feel, although there’s an undeniable learning curve. The smaller screen can make it challenging to select units or navigate menus, but with time, it becomes second nature. The ability to use the touchscreen also enhances the control experience, providing direct interaction that is quite satisfying.

Replayability and Endless Possibilities

Where RimWorld shines is its replayability. The random events orchestrated by the AI Storyteller, in conjunction with the extensive mod support even on the Steam Deck, mean that no two playthroughs are alike. The game continually feels fresh and engaging, encouraging experimentation with different strategies and colony setups.

Battery Life

This is perhaps where I’ve noticed a bit of a trade-off. The complexity of the game does take a toll on the Steam Deck’s battery. On a LCD Steam Deck, you can expect to get a couple of hours of play before needing a recharge, depending on your settings and playstyle. With an OLED Steam Deck, that bumps up to 3-4 hours. While it’s understandable given the demanding nature of the game, it’s something to be mindful of if you’re looking to play on the go.

Final Thoughts

RimWorld is more than just a game; it’s a journey into the heart of space colonization, where every decision matters, and every colonist contributes to a unique story. While it may not cater to everyone’s taste, its fun and satisfying gameplay, coupled with the unexpected twists of emergent storytelling, make it a masterpiece in the genre. Dive into RimWorld for an unforgettable experience of strategy, survival, and boundless creativity.

Written by
Jim's first handheld gaming device was an original Gameboy, purchased with Super Mario Land and Tetris.

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