The question begs to be asked, “Is a game worth playing if you have to muddle through four hours of digging for stone so your workers can build a well to access a lake, only to fail and expire from thirst?” Let’s find out.
Gnomoria developed by Robotronic Games, returns to the classic sandbox world builder, much in the same category as Minescape and Sims. The purpose of the game is to build your village into a kingdom. You start off with five gnomes and can experiment with random functions to end up with huge stockpiles of chopped wood and picked fruit. Next, you decide to dig a hole with your workers to explore underground. Nothing here, but just dirt. You dig another level deeper. Nothing here. Another level and another level, and so forth. Then you notice that your “Drink” supply is dwindling. So you build stairs into the lake, but the gnomes don’t understand the concept of drinking from a lake. They can drown, but they can’t drink. So, you try to build a well, but WAIT, you need stone. Consequently, you stubbornly keep digging around and find absolutely nothing. Then finally you hit gold on the -7th floor. You build a workbench, and then your gnomes stop working because they’re too thirsty to continue and eventually they all die. The game concludes literally with a snarky, “CONGRATULATIONS! Your kingdom has fallen.” The End.
Altogether, Gnomoria is so convoluted and the game’s controls are like stumbling through a labyrinth. The sheer confusion turned me off pretty quickly. There is no clear direction to advancing your kingdom. This problem can be easily solved with an in-game tutorial as to what you need to do next to survive. A “Help” section does exist with information that is slightly helpful in a hard-to-read font. To truly play this game at all, you must do research online. This is where Robotronic’s lack of thought and care for their customers and potential fans are revealed. No gamer should have to research online how to get started in a game. It should be somewhat intuitive. Then again, despite the official-sounding name of “Robotronic”, Gnomoria is programmed and designed by one person, Robert West. Pretty impressive.
The graphics are mediocre, with the designs being rather bland. That’s not so bad since the core of the game is more about the intellectual side of managing a village, and the simplicity of it makes everything easier to organize. However, it is a problem when trees look like bushes, and bushes look like a pixel, and when you can’t easily differentiate between all the raw resources. I personally found the music to be annoying, as to which I had to turn off the volume on my computer, since there is no “Music Volume” option in the game itself.
In the broader scheme of things, Gnomoria has a whole lot of potential. Despite all of the glitches, thankfully this game is in Beta which allows time for it to improve. Robotronic Games does mention in their FAQs that the game is “far from finished” and “the release date is TBD.” In the end, the decision to buy the game boils down to one question. “If you had two equally fun games to play, would you choose the one with a ridiculously huge and intimidating learning curve or the one with a smooth and intuitive learning curve?” If you love microscopic details, micro-managing, and have all the time in the world, by all means buy the game. However, despite my current low opinion of Gnomoria, I would definitely re-try the fully developed version when it is released.
Don’t forget to check out the game at store.steampowered.com.