Murder, psychosis and starvation: A tale of RimWorld brutality

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RimWorld is a recent Steam Early Access success story. The sci-fi colony sim puts players in control of a group of crash landed survivors on an alien world, from there your goals are to build shelter, gather food and advance your technology to the point you can send your colonists back into space. It’s kind of like The Sims, but everything hates you.

I’ve sunk around seven hours into the game, and in that time I’ve learnt that RimWorld is not even slightly for the fainthearted. To give that statement better context let’s start at the beginning.

So my guys (three colonists and a dog) crash landed to find a very inexperienced god controlling their actions. I tried my best to give them shelter, food and a purpose in life, but the learning curve for RimWorld is a tad steep. The menus are basic and certain necessary actions can be hard to understand. For example it took me way too long to figure out how to acquire steel through mining, which slowed my ability to build vital objects.

As I bumbled my way through the first few hours the colonists formed bonds and became a tight unit. The camp dog, Falafel, became fiercely loyal to the hunter Nicholas. Pineda, the hard working crop grower fell in love with and got married to the miner, Sasha. A new survivor also joined our camp, her name was Bluebird and she soon fell in love with Nicholas, competing for his attention with Falafal. It didn’t take long before they too planed to wed. Everything seemed on the up, and together the group survived whatever the world could throw at them.

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Including squirrel attacks.

Eventually things started to become dicey as a food shortage hit the colony. We had potatoes growing but they wouldn’t be ready for some time. I was struggling to feed the four survivors I already had when a message popped up saying someone else had landed on the planet and needed our help from bandits. Would we save them and risk conflict? Sure we could win the fight, but rescuing the person would mean another mouth to feed. The plot thickened, it turned out the survivor was the ex-wife of Nicholas.

In a strange twist of fate it was Bluebird, Nicholas’ current partner, who rescued his ex-wife by shooting the bandit. And this is how Osborn joined our colony.

With low food still a major issue, our main source of food had become any small game that Nicholas could hunt. Eventually Nicholas, with Falafel at his side, had to push out further and further from camp to find food. On one expedition a notice popped up, a pack of man eating wolves were on the prowl. They made their way in-between Nicholas and the colony, cutting off his retreat. It didn’t take long before they spotted our hunter and his trusty dog. There were three wolves, too many for Nicholas to handle alone.

My colonists jumped into action, running to his aid. But they were too late; after killing one wolf the remainder of the pack surrounded him. A bite severed Nicolas’ leg and he passed out in a pool of blood. His lover Bluebird was the first to make it to the scene. She took out one of the wolves, before succumbing to wounds herself and passing out next to Nicholas. Falafel, Osborn, Sasha and Pineda dispatched the remaining man eater and discovered the horrific scene.

It was too late for Nicholas, in the time it took for help to come he had bled out and died. Falafel, devastated by the passing of his owner lost it and started attacking Sasha. Reluctantly he had to put down the formerly loyal dog.

Pineda carried Bluebird back to the house in an attempt to save her life, but her wounds were already badly infected. With morale low, Sasha dug graves on the outskirts of the colony for Falafel and Nicholas. The pressure was too much for Osborn, and she started to wander around the land aimlessly in a state of psychosis. With only two colonists at my disposal and the treatment of Bluebird a priority, we couldn’t do much to help her, she shortly died of starvation in the wilderness.

Bluebird recovered from her wounds, but lost mobility with the infection in her left leg being too severe. As Osborn was lowered into a grave next to Nicholas and Falafel, winter began to set in. Thankfully we were able to stockpile potatoes, enough to last through the cold months… hopefully. Starvation was no longer an issue, but with heavy snow and low temperatures, expanding the colony and advancing our technology was out of the question.

Stuck inside for long periods of time, Sasha and Bluebird began to bond. He would spend hours talking to her in her bed as Pineda harvested wood and cleared snow from the front of the house. A pack of four huskies passed through the land and soon joined us. They made the house feel full, sleeping around the fire and bonding with the survivors.

My dream.

My dream.

Things changed when a trader came to town. We were able to buy enough medicine to operate on Bluebird and give her a peg leg, so she could be mobile again.

Pineda conducted the operation, which was a success. Bluebird was on her feet again. Now I had three colonists to do my bidding and a pack of huskies to care for and train. Another survivor, Shen, eventually joined us and took Nicholas’ place as our hunter. Things were looking good!  Except you know where this is going… this brief spell of optimism in the wake of despair didn’t last long.

The normal cold winter soon turned into a volcanic one, with shorter days and colder nights adding pressure to our chances of survival. On top of this, being immobilised for months and the death of her lover had a jarring impact on Bluebird. One day she had a violent breakdown, in the snow out front of the house she grabbed a knife and started attacking Shen. Sasha intervened, and in her weakened state Bluebird’s outburst didn’t last long. She was knocked out and carried back inside by Sasha, who begun to treat her wounds.

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The horror…

The last of our medicine was used to bring the psychotic Bluebird back to health. After she recovered and was up and moving it didn’t take long for her to flip out again. This time she attacked Pineda in the woods. Sasha ran to his wife’s aid and shot at his friend Bluebird, knocking her down. This time there was no medicine to bring her back round, and the gunshot wounds were critical. With little hope of physical or mental recovery, Sasha euthanised Bluebird by beating her to death with a club as she slept. A fourth grave appeared next to Nicholas, Falafel and Osborn.

The winter carried on in full force. With few mouths to feed, Pineda, Sasha and Shen would be well stocked for the long dark volcanic winter, but at an extreme cost. When all seemed at its lowest, one of the huskies, Paradise, became pregnant. Soon we would have puppies! This was truly good news at the darkest period in the colony’s history. Except the next day a feral wolf killed Paradise as she played outside. Sasha dug a grave for her, but before it could be filled Pineda butchered the corpse and stored the meat in the pantry. I sat there horrified looking at what my kingdom had become. The three colonists continue to fight on, but nothing will ever be the same.

Fuck this game, I love it.

Grieve with Charlie on Twitter @clbraith, and don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.

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