Place strategy

Dorfromantik Review – Falling Into Place

Once you get past its quirky name, Dorfromantik offers simple and relaxing sessions of tile-matching puzzle goodness. Connecting hexes to build pretty landscapes offers a city builder’s thoughtful strategy to create a challenging yet extremely zen-like atmosphere.

Fans of the Carcassonne board game should quickly grasp Dorfromantik’s concept of drawing random tiles and finding ways to place them on the field according to their setting. Tiles only fit next to those with matching edges; railroad tiles connect to train tracks, rivers merge with other bodies of water, and more. Creating vast forests or sprawling villages earns more points, and I like the challenge of finding optimal ways to fit the rooms. Filling in sections of the map and watching boats navigate my pretzel-shaped waterways is a small but satisfying touch because of the way it brings my model cities to life.

The classic experience features objectives, such as building cities to a specific size, to provide nuggets of objective to make the otherwise free-form experience engaging. You don’t have to complete these tasks, but I still enjoy coming full circle on land I’ve spent ages building and watching my score skyrocket. Expanding your board can unlock new types of tiles, such as windmills, waterwheels, and even new biomes to spice up the draw pool. Seeing the field evolve from the standard lush green to a patchwork of darker, barren dirt or snow-frosted trees refreshes the visual variety.

I like how Dorfromantik’s mode selection offers multiple options to enjoy the experience depending on my mood. A creative mode allows for unrestricted building, even allowing you to discard poorly fitting tiles. Conversely, hard mode offers a higher challenge with more complex pieces. Quick Mode condenses the game into shorter sessions, perfect for knocking out quick rounds on the go. Monthly mode mixes up long-term play with new sets of custom rules every month.

I spent a lot of time playing the PC version of Dorfromantik when it launched in Early Access last year. The experience translates well to Switch, although using controller inputs to move tiles and the camera is, unsurprisingly, less intuitive than the quick precision of a mouse. It’s not bad at all, although it’s my least favorite way to play. That said, it’s a fair trade-off for the benefit of matching the tiles to the bed or sofa. Additionally, the simple yet colorful art direction, which has a hand-drawn quality, pops on the small screen.

Dorfromantik balances its strategic and comfortable elements well, and it’s easy to fall into a serene trance of falling tiles. Pulling the camera back to reveal the full extent of my landscape is always a satisfying reward for my subtle and hard work, much like stepping back to admire a finished painting. While it’s not the kind of puzzle game I feel compelled to play more than a session or two a day, I still appreciate the mood boost it leaves me with.