This last month has seen the release of the blisteringly difficult “Returnal” and the very spooky “Resident Evil Village.” Between both, I’ve had many hours of tense gameplay filled with plenty of body horror but am still a way away from being able to write a review about either and am finding myself in search of a breather.
That’s where “Dorfromantik” comes in.
“Dorfromantik” released in March on PC in early access, meaning it’s still going through development and may come to additional platforms like Mac, mobile phones and Nintendo Switch, but it’s already got a lot to like.
In it, you are creating a village with a variety of hexagon tiles that contain everything ranging from homes, crops, forests, rivers and train tracks. You start with a blank board and tile-by-tile the world starts to take shape with villages, farms and forests taking shape, connected by roads and waterways. It works a bit like a boardgame where joining like tiles builds bonuses and quests — like joining together exactly 23 homes — will occasionally pop up. Completing those challenges will give your more tiles to build out the world.
“Dorfromantik” is one of those compound German words unique to the language used to describe moods or complicated feelings like Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in the troubles of another). Its developers say its most literal translation is along the lines of “village romanization,” explaining that the “idyll of the village landscape has a calming effect on many people, as it can create a feeling of freedom and soothing. The power in tranquility and the harmony with nature are perceptions that we associate with Dorfromantik.”
And, boy, do they get it right. Somewhere between the soothing music, charming and colorful animations and the low-stakes, at-your-own-pace gameplay everything combines together into a perfectly peaceful package that is easy to lose several hours into.
It has a very model train vibe to it with pleasant animations giving the miniature world plenty of life and character. And while you can certainly paint yourself into a corner with silly layouts of train tracks — as I’ve done several times — it somehow always looks cohesive. It has the charm of something like “SimCity” without the steep challenge.
The game has already done well and the developers are continuing to build it and add new features and new tiles. While I’d love to see it come out for more platforms, it being particularly good for a phone or Nintendo Switch, it’s already a totally worthwhile game to check out, especially if you’re looking for a peaceful little getaway.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at email@example.com.