Story-driven construction sim with intelligent AI systems should be at the core of games like RimWorld. Even though it looks like an old 16-bit world, it’s actually an advanced entry in the genre.
Specifically, Ludeon Studio’s title uses an AI storyteller that generates the flow of your campaign. It simulates psychology, gunplay, melee, wounds, climate, biomes, ecology, diplomacy, relationships, medicine, trade, art, and more to generate stories.
Its systems are overwhelming but still easy to understand. It may not be enough for you, and you want more. If that’s the case, we’re here to help you find alternative games like RimWorld.
Selecting Games Like RimWorld
RimWorld blends construction and management simulation elements with an AI storyteller. To understand what the game offers, here’re its components:
- Genre: RimWorld is a top-down sci-fi colony management and construction simulator. It has an AI-generated story-driven campaign.
- Plot: The game happens in a distant future, where humans develop colonies on other planets.
- Setting: You are the campaign with three random crash-land survivors on an alien planet. Your job is to help them survive and grow a colony.
- AI Story Generator: The AI micro-manages many aspects of your NPCs, weather, enemies, and more to create stories.
- Narrative-driven focus: Even though the narrative itself is randomized, we recognized a core part of the experience is its story-driven design.
- Gameplay: You tell your colonists what to do. That means what to construct, where to work, what resources to gather, where to go, or who to fight.
- Characters: You can see NPC’s mental states with the “mood meter.” It encompasses many complex and basic needs (like food, rest, and shelter).
- Goal: You must ensure the survival of the colony. You’ll face internal and external randomized events. The difficulty becomes progressively harder.
- Starvation: The primary resource is food, as starvation plays a big role in the game. The first portion of the game revolves around finding reliable food.
- Random generation: The AI storyteller will analyze the player’s situation and choose events that could take you to the most interesting narrative.
- Narrators: There’re various preconfigured AI storytellers. These alter the game’s tone and randomness.
- Difficulties: There’re also 6 difficulty presets. These influence the frequency and severity of random events.
- Research: Investigating technology is a key part of the game. But as you grow in research, challenges become harder.
- Scenarios: You can choose between various starting scenarios. All locations are procedurally generated.
- NPCs: The system also procedurally generated NPCs. These have positive and negative traits, as well as personalities, that affect how the colony goes.
- Colony growth: Growing the colony means going to war against others to capture its settlers. You can also rescue other survivors.
- Victory condition: You win by constructing a spaceship, defending it for fifteen days, and escaping the planet.
- Combat: You either defend the colony from invaders or invade other colonies. You place defensive structures, take cover, and arm your colonists.
- Mods: You can install mods via the Steam workshop to further alter the experience.
- Community: Lastly, the community is highly active. The title has thousands of daily players, hundreds of mods, and active developer support.
We believe games like RimWorld feature a mix or a twist of the elements above. Aside from the narrative-driven experience, RimWorld is mostly about managing, developing, and building a sci-fi colony. The key aspect tying all of these elements together is simulation.
Games Like RimWorld
Oxygen Not Included
- Developer: Klei Entertainment
- Publisher: Klei Entertainment
- Release Date: July 2019
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
Oxygen Not Included is not the most RimWorld-looking game on the list. As far as colony management simulator games go, it’s second to RimWorld on steam in terms of popularity and rating. However, it’s 2D, entirely underground, and unforgivingly punishing and sad.
See, your goal is helping a group of colonists survive on their subterranean asteroid base. Everything is under your control, from resources to excavation and construction. This opens up many mechanics, requisites layer upon another, necessities to make the base run.
For example, procuring food requires plants, plants need a greenhouse, a greenhouse needs a cooling system, a cooling system needs power, a power system needs fuel, fuel needs water, etc. Nothing works separately or by taking resources from a pool. It’s instead immersive and rather complex.
Opo top of that, your survivors go through emotional and psychological states. They need leisure, fun activities, accommodation, and basic needs to be happy and efficient. There’re also thermodynamics, gas, liquid, and power grid simulations to master.
Lastly, the key resource is oxygen, and both air and oxygen move through the base in real-time. So, your main goal is to construct interlocking pipes delivering fuel and oxygen to key areas in the base.
The game will reward you for careful planning and punish you for careless improvisation.
Dwarf Fortress (new Steam version)
- Developer: : Bay 12 Games
- Publisher: Kitfox Games
- Release Date: “Planned Release Date: time is subjective” / August 2006 (original)
- Platform: Windows, macOS
The new Dwarf Fortress version is adding a 16-bit, top-down graphical interface. The older and legendary simulator is a text-based experience. However, the title is not available yet. It’s only listed on Steam.
Even so, Dwart Fortress is RimWorld’s original inspiration. It’0s the most expansive and complex management simulator in experience, with more systems than we can count. You manage a colony of dwarfs as they make stone villages and fortresses underneath a mountain and into the wilderness.
Like RimWorld, an AI generates everything in the world. That includes the entire history, rise, and fall of other civilizations. It also contains creatures, cultures, and NPCs, even down to the organs and skin of your characters.
You’ll face the constant threat of starvation, random events, and many narrative paths as you play the game. It evolves according to what the system decides and what you do in the face of hunger, madness, dragons, and other enemies.
The general tone is also sad. Mostly, your civilization will rise and ultimately fall -the developers say “losing is fun.” The journey will always be different, though. Lastly, there’s combat, which includes skills, material properties, body parts, aimed attacks, etc.
- Developer: Froxy Voxel, Gramophone Games
- Publisher: The Irregular Corporation
- Release Date: June 2021 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows, Linux
Going Medieval is an upcoming Early Access game, only available on Steam. It blends colony building, survival mechanics, and NPC micro-manage with a Dark Age medieval setting. Also, unlike Rimworld, it uses a 3D cartoon style.
You’re emerging from the chaos of a deadly plague that wiped out most of the population. Your goal is to build a fortress across the wilderness to ensure survivors’ future. The main concern is procuring food for the survivors, so they don’t starve.
Your colonists have needs. To build your village systems, you must procure steady food, water, and shelter supplies. At the same time, you must defend the colony from bandits, animals, and other dangers in a lawless medieval world.
Building a fortress goes from small wooden hoods to giant stone castles. You use 3D terrain tools to create your stronghold. It’s necessary to defend from procedurally generated events, enemies, and dangers.
Lastly, the gamer’s system also randomizes the survivors. They come with different traits, perks, and personalities that uniquely influence the colony. Additionally, your villagers’ emotional states vary according to their basic and complex needs.
- Developer: Render Cube
- Publisher: Toplitz Productions
- Release Date: September 2021
- Platform: Windows
Medieval Dynasty is a first-person open-world medieval RPG game. Yet, survival, management, and city-building are part of its main mechanics. It’s also a trending and immersive title.
You’re a pleb in the Middle Ages, and you fled from war. You play through a rags-to-riches story as you can grow a community, become its leader, and create a powerful dynasty.
The gameplay revolves around two mechanics. The first one is freely exploring the world to hunt, gather resources, combat, and complete the main quests. The second mechanic is crafting equipment and building a base.
Your base is necessary to survive winters, bears, wolves, and random events. For example, you need to eat to survive, and the game encourages you to farm to keep a steady supply of fools. And as other NPCs move to your city, you will need to expand your territory.
Additionally, you can craft many weapons, armors, and tools. Then, you can build houses, farms, stables, towers, and all kinds of buildings to grow your village. You can also marry, have children, make alliances, and trade.
The Planet Crafter
- Developer: Miju Games
- Publisher: Miju Games
- Release Date: July 2021 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows
Planet Crafter is a first-person space survival and crafting game with a set open world. There’re no random events and no procedural generation, though. Instead, it’s a selected map offering a massive sandbox experience.
Still, your job is transforming the ecosystem of a hostile alien planet. By building the proper structures and harvesting the resources you need, you can make it livable for humans.
The gameplay revolves around exploring the planet to collect resources. Then, using these resources to craft tools, build structures, and research technologies.
Your buildings either create oxygen, heat, or air pressure. You need to balance these three resources to make a human-like biosphere. At the same time, your character manages thirst, temperature, health, and oxygen.
Planet Crafter is also an Early Access game. That said, its systems are neat and well-executed. For these reasons, it has become one of the most popular games in the genre on Steam.
- Developer: Harpoon Games, Holistic Games
- Publisher: Harpoon Games, Holistic Games, Gamera Game
- Release Date: April 2021
- Platform: Windows
First Feudal is a top-down colony and city-building simulator with a medieval setting. The gameplay works like Rimworld, as it revolves around telling your villagers what to do.
On top of that, you can also build w doors, walls, floors, and roofs to create many structures. However, it works more like an RPG game, as you control a character who builds up the town and leads the other characters.
The gameplay is slower, even clunkier, because you’re not a God or an overseer. Still, First Feudal streamlines the experience by delivering constant tower defense segments. You’d have to place your defensive structures properly to survive enemy hordes.
Other than that, you’ll manage peasants, develop infrastructure, and make a comfortable settlement. New settlers will move to your village if it’s a nice place to live. Similarly, bandits, wolves, and bears will attack your city if there’s food and treasures to find.
Lastly, other mechanics include trading, agriculture, seasons, and, most importantly, random events. You can experience the whole experience alone or multiplayer with up to 6 players online.
Amazing Cultivation Generator
- Developer: GSQ Games
- Publisher: Gamera Game
- Release Date: November 2020
- Platform: Windows
Amazing Cultivation Simulator is a survival colony management and base building simulator. It has an Asian setting, fantastical elements, and a top-down 16-bit perspective.
The game revolves around apprentices you recruit and rival sects your defeat on a long quest. The plot revolves around sacred cultivation rituals to carve the path towards immortality. Such a setting delivers a farming simulator with Chinese Buddhist and Taoist mythology.
You play as the Grandmaster, and your job is to expand your domain through politics and commerce. Mechanics include building, expansion, education, commerce, research, relics, and farming.
You’ll also face demons and other evils as you play the campaign. At the same time, you must keep the balance between good and evil in your empire. Balance relies on laws, miracles, relics, talismans, and other items and buildings to create, craft, or find.
Lastly, developer support is amazing. A dozen free updates are adding other systems. These include stuff like awakening powers of pet training. The current range of experiences within the game is bigger than any other on the list.
- Developer: 11 bit studios
- Publisher: 11 bit studios
- Release Date: April 2018
- Platform: Windows, macOS, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, Android
Frostpunk is a society survival and management game. You’re on an alternate and dystopic Earth, and your job is managing citizens and infrastructure to ensure survival.
The main resource is heating, as you play in secluded, frozen locations. The entire world is frozen, and your hopes of survival are steam-powered machinery and research to survive the cold.
Your task is to build, manage, and evolve the last city on Earth. It requires micro and macro-managing resources for your community. You can also explore the wild for expansion and resources and research new technologies to improve your city and systems.
Then, you regulate society by making laws. These laws decide the working hours, healthcare, food provision, and many crucial aspects of your citizen’s life. The goal is to balance hope, comfort, morals, and hardened survival.
- Developer: Polymorph Games
- Publisher: Polymorph Games
- Release Date: February 2019 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows
Foundation is a relaxing medieval city building and management simulator. It focuses on organic village development, resource management, and monument construction. That said, it includes hefty mod support to modify the experience.
You play as a new lord or lady of a small village. You have the goal of evolving your lands as you envision. The developers call the experience “organic city-building.” That’s because there’s no grid, so you’re free to develop a horizontal and vertical city in any way, shape, and form.
Still, the focus is on resource management and a growing population. Moreover, there’re narrative events, quests, and challenges across the kingdom. The building features free-form styles, and you can create things like churches, taverns, and keeps.
Gameplay starts with rudimentary workplaces and storage facilities. From there, you must establish many city systems like trade routes. Eventually, the win condition revolves around erecting majestic monuments.
Lastly, the game includes a complex web of NPC interactions and needs. It depends on random citizen skills, resource availability, extraction, production, and similñar. As the city manager, you also grow your reputation, further influencing gameplay.
Pharaoh + Cleopatra
- Developer: Impressions Games
- Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
- Release Date: October 1999
- Platform: Windows
Pharaoh + Cleopatra is the available version of the 1999 classic city builder, plus its expansion. You play in Ancient Egypt and lead the Arabic civilization through its Pyramid years. Alternatively, you can build your levels with the in-game editor.
As a city builder, you govern all aspects of the empire. That includes culture, religion, trading, building, economy, military training, war, farming, etc. However, you must complete 53 narrative-driven missions rather than doing it freely.
Across the campaign, you’ll also face randomized weather events. These include floods, war, pillages, and the wrath of the Gods. On top of that, the villagers have emotional states. If you keep villagers unhappy, you may lead your city to chaos.
In particular, your city will grow when it prospers. New citizens will move to the town when you properly balance your economy and systems. Otherwise, they will move out or become your enemies. These systems include water, education, security, roads, resources, food, monuments, religion, etc.
You manage through generations. That means there’s a dynasty system to assure your Pharaoh’s bloodline survives. Lastly, there’s conflict in the game, which requires you to train villagers, build ships, and lead troops on the front lines, akin to RTS games.
- Developer: Wube Software
- Publisher: Wube Software
- Release Date: August 2020
- Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS
Factorio is a factory-building game. You build, research, manage, and upgrade automated 2D factories on massive procedurally generated worlds. The ultimate goal is to create an automatic factory capable of building a space rocket.
Like RimWorlds, it uses a top-down perspective, 16-bit graphics, and complex micro-manage systems. However, the gameplay is about combining different elements to create factory buildings.
These buildings extra, transport, or refine resources. Then, you use these resources to research technology and create defensive structures. Various game modes alter the victory condition, enemy spawn, and world design.
The system randomly generates enemy hordes that will attack your factories at different playthrough times. Defending requires having strong enough defensive structures, ammo production, and ammo distribution.
Lastly, you can expand your factories freely and as much as possible. In the beginning, it’s going to be simple, and resources are mostly trees. Over time, the game grows increasingly complex due to the number of systems, tech, enemies, and buildings.
- Developer: Mechanistry
- Publisher: Mechanistry
- Release Date: September 2021 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows
Timberborn is a top-down modern city building game. It excludes complex mechanics in favor of a streamlined, simpler, and easier simulator experience. It has various difficulty mods, but we suggest picking the higher one to play as developers intend.
Though, beavers are constructing the city as humans are “long gone.” You manage the animals by building vertical structures around rivers and across forests. You can play as one of two distinct beaver factions with unique traits and buildings.
The biggest mechanics are water management and water physics. You deal with events like drought, heavy rains, and clean water. These systems encourage you to expand your city strategically rather than as fast as possible.
That said, you’ll manage between six and 20 beaver-citizens mostly. You can go higher, but balancing resources demand and production becomes increasingly hard after the 12th villager.
Also, the planet is dry, so gameplay revolves on stockpiling food and controlling what’s left of rivers.
Lastly, you can also research technologies developers call “Lumberpunk.” It means turning timber into advanced machinery and technology. Wood always remains the core resource, but end-game content also requires producing metal.