There is a copy of Dwarf Fortress on my desktop. In many ways, it's the PC gaming equivalent of having Tolstoy on the bookshelf. The hope is people will see it, be quietly impressed by my ASCII management aptitude, and, most crucially, won't ask any questions that would betray the fact I haven't played it. "One day," I tell myself, "one day." Until then, there are games like KeeperRL (opens in new tab) —which offer sprawling base management without the overwhelming complexity. As the name suggests, it's more in the vein of Dungeon Keeper... albeit also a roguelike.
Here's a trailer showcasing the most recent update.
If you missed it, the trailer features a scene in which the player directs a bear to bite a child's head off. Ban this sick filth!
There are two main modes to choose from. In the main one, you're the Keeper; tasked with building up your base, and sending minions out to harass the local populace. There's also the more traditional roguelike-based Adventurer mode, where you explore, kill and loot through a randomly generated overworld. You can even load a previous Keeper game, testing your skills against your own design.
Being in alpha there's still plenty to do, but already I can see the appeal. Designing a lair and ordering minions are both relatively simple click-and-drag affairs, and it doesn't take long to make enough progress to become invested in the design.
KeeperRL is now available to buy (opens in new tab) in alpha for $15. Through the same link, you'll also find a free demo. It features exactly the same content as the base game, but is rendered entirely in ASCII. The game is also on Greenlight (opens in new tab) .
In the next build, developer Michal Brzozowski says he plans to redesign minions and overhaul the economy. You can find details on the game's development at the KeeperRL website (opens in new tab) .