DescriptionThis unique game starts the player in a cold shack, challenging them to stoke the embers of a fireplace with some wood by clicking on a button to effect the action. The wood counter goes down, a quick delay passes until the player is able to toss the next stick in the flames... and then the world expands. A stranger, attracted by the orange flickering, enters from the cold forest outside -- a builder, taking comfort in the warmth, and freeing the player up... to venture out into the woods and find more wood! This is also done by clicking on a button, with a "cool-down" period inherited from casual games. Eventually the stockpile of resources can be used to construct different kinds of buildings and tools such as animal traps and carts, and the gradual urbanization attracts further wilderness vagrants joining the small accidental community forming in the middle of nowhere. The player can assign them jobs associated with the buildings, which typically enable the conversion of various kinds of resources (wood, fur, meat, scales, teeth) into other, rarer kinds (medicine, bone spears, leather). Random events sporadically pop up, describing visits (and the outcome on the stockpiled goods) from hostile animals, thieving vermin, sage or mercantile vagabonds, ill winds of disease, and armed parties of other surviving raiders.
With the development of primitive weapons, the game unlocks a further macro scale, enabling the player to guide a scouting party into an initially-blank roguelike overworld map filled with dangerous random combat encounters (demanding quick, well-paced clicks on the appropriate action buttons) and locations to advance the village's options -- abandoned mines, ruins of cities and the sites of longago battles between technologically advanced forces. Just don't run out of water or provisions! When the appropriate circumstances are met -- after discovering or looting new kinds of goods and the materials needed to manufacture them -- the options back home of goods to equip the scouting parties with are expanded.
And then there is a still further macro-scale level of gameplay to be unlocked, once the devastated landscape has given up its final secrets.
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Related Web Sites
- A Dark Room (official website)
- A Dark Room: The Best-Selling Game That No One Can Explain (An article from The New Yorker discussing the game.)
- A Dark Room Wiki (Contains instructions and spoilers for most aspects of the game.)