Lately I have been looking at quite a few different simulation/tycoon games. Ever since I was a kid and played games like Hospital Tycoon and the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, I have been a fan of this genre. In particular I have been really interested in “factory simulator” style games recently where you acquire raw goods and turn them into finished products. While they have been around for a while, I honestly can’t recall ever playing a game in the dwarven mining colony management genre before. Hammerting intrigued me as a game built around creating the goods needed for a war sounded really interesting. Hammerting has a bit of a learning curve and some AI problems at this point, but it is well on its way to becoming a really enjoyable dwarf mining colony simulator.
In Hammerting you play as the leader of a Dwarven mining colony in the mountains of Mara. A war is ravaging the overworld and your allies need goods to supply the war effort. This is where you come in. You must control your group of dwarves to set up a supply chain for the overworld. As you further explore the mountain you will discover rarer materials and even some hostile enemies. Can you create a well run mining operation to turn the tide of war in your favor?
The basic gameplay of Hammerting revolves around building a mining operation that will help supply the war effort that is going on in the overworld. In the game you don’t have direct control over any of the dwarves. Instead you give them various jobs to complete and orders that they should follow.
As your operation is built underground, this means that you will spend a lot of time clearing out rock and other materials that get in your way. It is quite simple to clear out the mountain as you just drag and drop a selection over what spaces you want your dwarves to clear out. They will then block by block remove the stone from the area you selected. By clearing out rocks you make room to build structures inside the mountain as well as acquiring the materials that you will use to make products.
The majority of the gameplay is built around creating your own little economy. You will be able to build a number of different buildings. Some of these buildings refine goods you find in the mountain and others are used to create final goods. These goods can be used by your dwarves or can be sold for gold. Most will be used to complete missions for the overworld though. Every so often you will receive requests from the overworld for goods that are needed for the war. If you are able to supply these goods in time you will receive rewards as well as help your allies in the war. If you don’t help the overworld with enough of their quests they will lose the war which will lead to your defeat as well.
While you can build basic goods with the resources near the entrance to the mountain, you will eventually need to venture forth into the unknown depths. By exploring the mountain you will gain knowledge which you can use to purchase new technology expanding the number of buildings and goods that you can make. You also will need to explore in order to find more valuable resources which are used for more advanced goods. While exploring though you need to be cautious as there are dangerous creatures and other threats which could kill your dwarves if you aren’t careful.
What initially intrigued me about Hammerting was that I thought the idea of working behind the battlelines to supply an army with the goods to win a war was a really interesting idea. I have always been a big fan of simulation style games where you have to create a factory. There is just something satisfying about being able to create a well run factory that pumps out goods. While Hammerting is a little different, it has all of the elements from these type of games that I really enjoy.
I think the game’s greatest strength at this point is that it gives you a lot of flexibility in how you create your mining operation. To begin the game you only have a couple of different buildings that you can place which gives you a limited number of goods that you can create. This expands quickly as you do more research opening up new buildings and goods that you can create. As you can basically destroy any block, you can place buildings in any formation that you want making each mining operation feel different. As you get better at the game you can put a lot of work into making your operation as efficient as possible.
This mechanic on its own would be quite satisfying, but it is combined with an exploration mechanic kind of reminiscent of games like Minecraft or Terraria. Each time you start a new game you will be put into a new mountain which appears to be randomly generated. While most of the mountain is filled in with rocks, there are various caverns to explore and enemies that you have to defeat. As you can only see a little bit in front of your dwarves/buildings, you don’t know exactly what will be around any corner. Exploring is needed to find new resources for your operations, but you need to be careful as your dwarves could die quickly. While you could hire new dwarves, each dwarf grows in skill the longer you have them which means you could lose a valuable worker if you are too careless while exploring.
Simply put I found Hammerting to be quite enjoyable. If the idea of running a mining colony doesn’t sound all that interesting to you, the game likely won’t be for you. Those that like these type of games though should really enjoy playing Hammerting. While the gameplay ultimately boils down to turning raw resources into more refined goods, the game feels like it is more than that.The fact that you are given quests for specific goods to be built for the war effort feels like you are building things for a purpose. You could just build things for profit, but you can’t ignore the events of the overworld or you will lose the game. When you add in the exploration mechanics, Hammerting feels like more than your typical factory simulator.
I enjoyed playing Hammerting, but it has two issues at this point.
The first is that the computer AI is not always the best. At times it is really hard to give commands to your dwarves. They seem to randomly choose which jobs they want to do and other times will just sit there doing nothing instead of working on the jobs that you have lined up. For example there was a time where my base was getting attacked by creatures and I couldn’t get my dwarves to attack the creatures no matter what I tried. When digging their choices of which blocks to dig out first don’t always make a lot of sense which sometimes leads to them falling down pits. This is usually more of an annoyance than anything else, but I really hope the game eventually either improves the dwarves AI or gives you more direct control over them.
The other issue I had with the game is just that the game doesn’t give you a lot of instruction in what you are supposed to do. I will say that I haven’t really played a game like Hammerting before so that could have been a contributing factor. Outside of the missions that somewhat guide you through the game, it really doesn’t give you much of a tutorial. You basically have to learn most of the mechanics on your own. A lot of the mechanics are quite simple once you figure them out, but there is a learning curve to the game. Because of this you may consider restarting with a new game once you get a hang of the mechanics in order to create a better layout for your mining operation. This makes Hammerting the type of game that might start a little slow as you start to figure things out.
While Hammerting will be in Early Access for some time yet, at this point I think the game is already on the right path to becoming a really good game. In a way the game plays like a factory simulator as you take raw materials and turn them into final goods which can be used by your dwarves, sold, or used to help the war effort. This aspect of the game is quite satisfying as it is fun trying to create the most efficient operation that you can. Additionally the game has an exploration mechanic where you have to search through caves and caverns as you dig further into the mountain. This brings with it dangers as your dwarves can be killed by the creatures and other dangers hiding in the mountain. The game does have a decent learning curve as you have to learn most of the mechanics yourself, and the AI for your dwarves could use some work. Otherwise the game is already quite enjoyable and I can’t wait to see what it eventually becomes.
If you have never really cared for dwarf colony simulators or don’t think the game’s concept sounds all that interesting, Hammerting may not be for you. Those who think the premise sounds interesting though will likely really enjoy Hammerting and should consider picking it up.
Buy Hammerting online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Warpzone Studios and Team17 Digital for the review copy of Hammerting used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.