Dwarf Fortress

Posted:  Dec 21, 2022
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Dwarf Fortress was provided for free by Kitfox Games to review. Thank you!

It brings me great pleasure to say that Dwarf Fortress, the deepest and most complex colony simulator that has ever been created, is finally back and better than ever! With beautiful face-lift, the game will drop you into an entire simulated worlds. These simulations have depth too, not only does it simulate entire civilizations and their life span, hundreds of animals, monsters, poetry, instruments, and even dances. On top of that, there is an in-depth combat model and a dynamic weather system to simulate clouds and storms. If you enjoy colony sims, get this game.

We took a little bit of extra time with Dwarf Fortress since we wanted to make sure late game worked well too and damn I am addicted. As someone who is a fan of games like this, it was so easy to get lost in creating my disjointed mess of a base and keep my dwarfs alive. I was so excited to play this and finally having it in the palm of my hands, and way more playable than I expected, is awesome. Though it isn't as easy as just pressing play, at least, not on the Steam Deck.

Dwarf Fortress: Performance

There are absolutely no issues regarding performance of the game on the Deck. For the most part, the game can hover around 6W - 7W without any changes at all. The framerate does fluctuate between 30 - 50 FPS, but that is purely because of what game's style and it plays perfectly as intended here. In the performance category on Steam Deck, you will have no issues.

Dwarf Fortress

While it seems like there's a lot of spikes, the game runs perfectly as intended!

Controls, Text Size, and UI

The biggest issues Dwarf Fortress has on Steam Deck isn't performance, but the controls and UI. With the controls, the game doesn't have native gamepad support. This is an issue in general, especially in a game so packed, but Bay 12 Games and KitFox made sure that every selection also has a hotkey associated with it. By doing that, it's super easy to create a controller scheme, which I did!

With this scheme, I made, called "SDHQ Steam Deck Layout V1", there are nested virtual menus to select all commands and sub-commands, zooming in and out with the back buttons, moving buttons around for easier ways to control camera and world map, and some moved keys. It takes a little to get used to it, but once you do, it will feel significantly better than KB+M in some instances:


For a game this intricate with many commands and text lines, it isn't too small, but it is still hard to read at times. Being able to resize the text and UI elements to better fit the Deck's screen would be invaluable. Hopefully, this is something that is being worked on, but I wouldn't say it is unplayable in this state.


The text and UI size is a bit on the small side, but it isn't unplayably small.


Dwarf Fortress is a game I have been waiting to play since it was first announced. The gameplay is amazing and it was everything I had ever hoped for. On the Steam Deck, it has no issues performing and can definitely be played well, but you have to make those controller adjustments to really enjoy the experience. KitFox did let us know it isn't a priority to work on Steam Deck support just yet, but did leave the door open. But if you need an answer on whether this will run and be playable on the Steam Deck, the answer is yes!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Dwarf Fortress is an incredible game that highlights the best of what the colony-simulator genre is capable of. On the Steam Deck, it runs near perfectly and can be very enjoyable, but some UI and text resizing would be helpful. A community controller layout will be needed for optimal play as well.

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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