Dorfromantik has been out in Early Access on Steam for a while now, and was excellent even then. But now it is out-out, and like the headline is saying, you should definitely play it.
The game can very loosely be described as a city-builder, but that’s not quite fair, since that label conjures up images of Cities Skylines, or SimCity, games with a certain amount of complexity, and zones, and rules. Dorfromantik may have the construction of settlements as one of its most basic tasks, but it couldn’t be further from those games in its execution.
Instead, it’s a lot more like a board game. You’re given a blank space, the game feeds you one random hexagonal tile at a time—maybe it’ll be a little river, maybe it’ll be some cottages—and all you have to do is put it down. The only rules are that it needs to be touching another tile that’s already down. That’s it! You can be scored for how “connected” that tile is if that’s the way you want to play (buildings connected to buildings, river tiles to more river, etc), but if you also just want to play like a sandbox, building whatever the hell comes up, then you’re also free to do that as well.
Here’s how Riley described it while writing about the Early Access version last year:
In the midst of my strategy deliberations, I’ll come across a tile that would just look lovely in a spot that won’t give me a lot of points, and I can’t resist plunking it down. Areas will start to grow naturally as I pursue points, but then I’ll be taken by the aesthetics and start shaping them how I want, creating a little hamlet by a lake or a train line through a scenic wood, points be damned. You can min-max everything and gamble on the RNG, or you can just build a nice landscape and then sit back and watch the smoke rise from the houses, the train chug along its little track, or the boats navigate your canals. Once I saw a deer!
The whole time you’re doing that, everything from the sound to the music to the art design, is just incredibly relaxing. There’s even the world’s most satisfying “pop” sound every time you drop a tile down, which is so good it’s almost tactile, again harking back to that whole board game feel.
If everything I’ve just written above hasn’t painted enough of a picture, here’s the game’s launch trailer:
The game is available on a number of PC shopfronts, with links to each in the launch trailer’s description.