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Dorfromantik’s masterful minimalism will soothe your soul

The German word “dolfromantic” can be literally translated as “village romance”. I can’t explain its true meaning. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, its developer ourromantic (Game) states that the term is “usually used to describe the nostalgic feelings you feel when you miss being in the country.” It’s dormant.

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No more perfect for this delicious relaxation game that was born from Access a year ago. ourromantic A peaceful tile placement game: a kind of minimalist and meditative game Catan.. Build a landscape of hexagonal tiles and create pine forests, patchwork fields, winding rivers, spider web-like tracks, and small intertwined red brick towns. (But there is no way.) That’s it. There are no resources to generate or think about-no competition, no population, no politics, no profits or losses. Scores are only given based on how the tiles match. Your only goal is harmony and beauty.

cheek ourromantic You can relax. It can even be said to be aesthetically pleasing. The landscape, painted with loose pastel strokes and lazy splashes, is dramatic and toy-like, alive with bloated steam engines, tugboats and wheeled seabirds. A wonderful place to be. Time hasn’t passed here and no one needs anything from you. Nothing matters when placing the next tile. Take as much as you like. The game will be played for 5 minutes between worksprints as well as the 3 happy times divided into zones.

A small landscape of hexagonal tiles with cities, lakes and railroads

Image: Toukana Interactive

This doesn’t mean either ourromantic But it has no purpose or friction. He is actually very tightly trained and managed. Developer Toukana, a group of four game design students from Berlin, combines strategy and puzzle games, as well as solitaire-style accidental games, into a simple and well-thought-out design.

The tiles you place are dealt from a constantly diminishing random pile. You will need to complete missions and earn more tiles to continue the game, expand the landscape and increase your score. These appear when you place specific tiles and request that each of the five elements of the landscape (tens of water tiles, hundreds of houses, thousands of trees) be assembled more and more. For example, one tile may require you to assemble at least 36 homes, while another tile may require you to collect exactly 13 homes and no more. After completing some missions, you will be rewarded with more tiles if you raise a flag and surround the town, forest, or waterway with other landscape elements to prevent further expansion.

This wonderfully simple set of rules yields results-and thanks to Toukana’s great achievements, these branches work aesthetically as well as in the field of game balance. ourromantic Encourage care and strategy, but hinder optimization. You cannot make this game a success by establishing a big city that expands into one corner of the map, a huge forest in one corner, and a huge agricultural countryside in the third corner. Tiles go against this idea as they randomly mix elements of the landscape, leading to unexpected extensions and new designs in each mission they perform. This is a very clean and logical system designed to produce unexpected organic results. It’s an incredible achievement.

The vast landscape of fields, forests and rivers stretches far.

Image: Toukana Interactive

Initially, the biggest challenge seems to be with rail and river tiles that can only be placed next to other tiles of the same type or adjacent to a particular endpoint. These can easily create obstacles in expanding the map while waiting for the “ideal” tiles to appear on the stack. Ugly knots and gaps appear instead of the constant and even more fulfilling you instinctively seek. Rivers and railroads can bring disappointing ominous notes to people. ourromanticCalm and satisfying spiritual melody-but the game is probably rear Comfortable without them.

After my first game ourromanticThe more I learned about game design and tried to deal with it, the worse I would have been. My score kept falling. The battery continued to drain. What happened? I was working very hard to play the system. It was packed with lots of tasks to improve efficiency-four or five jungle quests on a single tree trunk-it broke the stable rhythm of the game. This is not a greedy game. For a mind trained in a video game reward system, it can be difficult to break the habit of climbing and learning its slow pace.

I finally slowed down. I didn’t pay much attention to the quest, but more to the tile matching. You can earn points by matching the edges of the tiles: wood to wood, house to house, grass to grass, and more. If all six sides match perfectly, you will be given 60 points and additional tiles. More importantly, it looks good. When aiming for harmony rather than efficiency ourromantic I met on the way. My score was better, my run was longer and my map was better.

A vast land where rivers intersect, with forests and fields on both sides

Image: Toukana Interactive

This style of play takes advantage of one of Update 1.0’s best and best additions, highlighting matching edges more clearly and providing a satisfying touch for perfect placement. Elsewhere there are new music tracks, all of which belong to “a very comfortable environment that makes a great sound with a cow bark”. Now you can pursue most meta-goals that reward you for cosmetic customization, such as new tile types and beautiful seasonal “biomes”. There are several new ways to play with the comprehensive Classic and Creative modes already available in Early Access.

First, quick mode has a hard limit of 75 tiles, which takes 10 to 30 minutes to complete. In hard mode, there are fewer missions and the tiles are more complex. Custom mode allows you to tinker with landscape objects, quests, and other possible settings, and then share the settings with other players, with or without seeding the tile stack. My favorite monthly mod is a fixed starter and custom game setup that changes every month. This should be a fun place for the community to challenge each other on the leaderboard.

Anyone is welcome ourromantic A more complete and rich experience. But in reality, it’s one of the games where Early Access is a bit off. This isn’t because there’s room for improvement or features to add, but because the predecessor is very complete and has been fully implemented from the beginning. If you add too much to it, or do something that can upset the delicate balance between friction and flow, logic and naturalism, it will be ruined. But the Toka team knows better than that. They are peaceful and wander the spiritual countryside.

ourromantic Now available on Windows PCs. The game was reviewed on PC using the download code provided by Toukana Interactive. Vox Media has a subsidiary. These do not affect your edited content, but Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links.Can be found Click here for additional information on Polygon’s ethical policy..


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Dorfromantik’s masterful minimalism will soothe your soul

The German word “dorfromantik” can be literally translated as “village romanticization.” Its real meaning is more ineffable. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, the developers of Dorfromantik (the game) said the word was “usually used to describe the kind of nostalgic feeling you get when you long to be in the countryside.” Dorfromantik is a state of mind.

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That couldn’t be more apt for this exquisite chill-out game, which has just emerged from a year of early access. Dorfromantik is a peaceful game of tile placement: a sort of minimalist, meditative Catan. You build a landscape from hexagonal tiles, creating pine forests, patchwork fields, meandering rivers, spidery train tracks, and higgledy-piggledy little red-brick towns. (No roads, though.) And that’s it. There’s no resource production or cost to think about — no competition, no population, no politics, no win, no lose. You are scored purely on how well your tiles match up. Your only goals are harmony and beauty.
Playing Dorfromantik is relaxing. You could even say it is aesthetically cleansing. The landscapes, drawn in loose strokes and lazy splashes of pastel color, and animated with puffing steam engines, tugboats, and wheeling sea birds, are gorgeous and toylike. It’s just a nice place to be. Time doesn’t pass here, and nobody needs anything from you. Nothing is counting down while you consider placing your next tile; take as long as you like. The game plays just as well in five minutes between work sprints as it does across a zoned-in, blissed-out three hours.

Image: Toukana Interactive
None of this is to say that Dorfromantik is aimless or frictionless, however. In fact, it’s quite tightly shaped and controlled. Developer Toukana — a group of four game design students from Berlin — blends elements of strategy and puzzle games, as well as solitaire-style games of chance, within a simple, finely judged design.
The tiles you place are dealt from a randomized stack that’s always dwindling. In order to keep your game going, your landscape growing, and your score going up, you need to earn more tiles by completing quests. These pop up upon placing certain tiles and ask you to bring together ever-larger numbers of each of the five landscape elements: dozens of water tiles, hundreds of houses, thousands of trees. One tile might ask to be joined up to at least 36 other houses, say, while another might require you to gather exactly 13 houses and no more. On completion, some quests raise a flag that rewards you with even more tiles if you successfully close out the town or forest or waterway by surrounding it with other landscape elements so it can’t be expanded any further.
This beautifully simple rule set has ramifications — and to Toukana’s immense credit, those ramifications operate aesthetically as well as in the realm of game balance. Dorfromantik encourages care and strategy, but discourages optimization. You can’t succeed in this game by building a sprawling metropolis in one corner of the map, a huge forest in another, and a giant farming prairie in a third. The tiles work against this notion, too, as they randomly mix landscape elements, prompting you into unexpected expansions and new designs with every quest you undertake. This is a very clean and logical system that has been designed to produce unexpected, organic outcomes. That’s an incredible achievement.

Image: Toukana Interactive
The biggest challenges, initially, seem to be posed by the rail and river tiles, which can only be placed next to others of their kind or adjacent to specific terminal points. These can easily create blockages to the expansion of your map as you wait for the “ideal” tile to turn up in the stack. Unsightly knots and gaps appear, in place of the steady, even flowering that you’re instinctively looking for. The rivers and railways can introduce a niggling note of frustration to Dorfromantik’s calm and satisfying mental tune — but the game would probably be too easygoing without them.
After my first few games of Dorfromantik, the more I learned about the game’s design and tried to engage with it, the worse I would do. My scores kept going down; my stack kept running dry. What was going on? I was trying too hard to game the system. I was lumping too many quests together — four or five forest quests in a single body of trees — aiming for efficiency, but in doing so, breaking the game’s steady rhythm. This is not a game of ambition. It can be hard for a mind trained on video game reward systems to break the habit of escalation and learn its languid pace.
I eventually slowed down. I paid less attention to quests and more to tile-matching. You score points for matching the edges of tiles: tree to tree, house to house, grass to grass, and so on. A perfect match along all six edges rewards you with 60 points and an extra tile. More to the point: It looks better. Once I made harmony rather than efficiency my goal, Dorfromantik met me halfway; my scores were better, my runs longer, my maps more beautiful.

Image: Toukana Interactive
This play style is reinforced by one of the subtlest and best additions of the 1.0 update, which highlights matching edges more clearly and gives perfect placements a satisfying pop. Elsewhere, there are new music tracks, all belonging to the genre “extremely tasteful ambient that sounds OK with cows mooing over it.” You can now track more of the meta-goals that reward you with new tile types and cosmetic customizations, including the lovely seasonal “biomes.” And there are several new ways to play, alongside the Classic and anything-goes Creative modes that were already present in early access.
Quick Mode, for one, has a hard limit of 75 tiles and takes somewhere between 10 minutes and half an hour to complete. Hard Mode has fewer quests and more complex tiles to accommodate. Custom Mode allows you to tinker with the probabilities of the landscape elements, quests, and other parameters and then share your settings with other players, with or without the seed for the tile stack. My favorite, Monthly Mode, is a fixed seed and custom game setup that changes monthly, which should be a fun place for the community to challenge itself on the score leaderboards.
This is all welcome, and it makes Dorfromantik a more complete and rewarding experience. But really, this is one of those games for which early-access status was a bit of a misnomer, not because it had no room to improve or features to add, but because its premise was so fully, perfectly realized from the start. Add too much to it, or do anything that might disturb its delicate balance between friction and flow, between logic and naturalism, and it would have been ruined. But the Toukana team knows better than that. They are at peace, strolling through the countryside of the mind.
Dorfromantik is out now on Windows PC. The game was reviewed on PC using a download code provided by Toukana Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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