Save a busy village from the apocalypse in this 'merciless' survival city builder

A medieval city seen from above
(Image credit: Michele Pirovano)

As a city builder enthusiast and horrible mayor I've paved the way for plenty of disasters in my cities, like neglectfully letting peasants freeze by the dozens, losing my honey fortune to a heist, and chopping down a friendly enchanted talking tree just to get an amulet.

But in new turn-based roguelike city builder Dotage, your game ending in ruin is all but assured before you've even placed your first foraging hut. The elder of your village has delivered a prophecy of doom—and predicted a bunch of smaller catastrophes that are headed your way, too. Worse still, the old coot won't shut his damn mouth about it so your industrious little peasants have to live and work in constant fear of the approaching End Times.

A looming apocalypse is quite an effective hook for a city builder. I've been playing Dotage since it launched on Steam a couple days ago, and it's pretty gripping. Assign your handful of villagers tasks like gathering food, growing crops, harvesting resources, raising livestock, and getting busy to produce more citizens, while keeping an eye on the upcoming disasters on the elder's prophetic calendar. There's not really a rush: Dotage is turn-based, so you have plenty of time to make your decisions before ending each day and advancing one step closer to the apocalypse. But there's still a sense of urgency so each research project and new building feels incredibly important.

As you can see in the trailer above, Dotage has an adorable art style, but don't let those charming looks fool you. Your villagers will have to contend with disasters like fires, fights, starvation, freezing weather, mass illnesses, and even an enormous tsunami sweeping over the entire village in one big wave. If and when you succumb to one or more of the horrible events, you can start over with a chance of discovering additional buildings, different ailments, new game systems, and even more elders showing up.

And all hope is not lost! The prophecy of doom is not an absolute certainty and you have a chance to stave off the multiple disasters heading your way by researching buildings that add protection and happiness to fight off fear and tragedy. You'll just have to research, build, and manage those things while also doing all the other normal city builder stuff to keep your people alive and happy.

A medieval city seen from above

(Image credit: Michele Pirovano)

Dotage has been in the works for nearly a decade according to the developer, and it shows—it's compelling from its very first moments, and each run teaches you something new you can put to use in future attempts. There are also multiple difficulty levels if you want a greater challenge or a more chill and cozy experience. Another fun note: the soundtrack is genuine music from the medieval period derived from the Montpellier Codex. Neat! Dotage is on sale for 15% off until October 11, and there's a demo on Steam if you want to try it out for free first. 

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.