Once you get past its quirky name, DorFromantic offers simple, relaxing sessions of tile-matching puzzle goodness. Combining hexagons to create beautiful landscapes offers a city-builder’s thoughtful strategy that provides an evocative yet highly zen atmosphere.
Fans of the board game Carcassonne should quickly grasp Dorfromantique’s concept of drawing random tiles and finding high-scoring – and aesthetically pleasing – ways to place them on the field based on their visuals. Tiles only fit next to those with corresponding edges; Railroad tiles join railroads, rivers merge with other bodies of water, and so on. Creating elaborate forests or large villages fetches more points, and I enjoy the challenge of finding the optimal way to fit the pieces. Completing the map sections on waterways like my pretzel and watching boats is a small but satisfying touch because of how it brings my model cities to life.
Classic experience offers objectives, such as building towns to a specific size, while providing nuggets of purpose to make an otherwise appealing free-form experience. You don’t have to complete these tasks, but I’m always happy to close the loop on the plot of land I’ve built and watch my scores skyrocket. Expanding your board can open up new types of tiles, such as windmills, water wheels, and even new biomes to spice up the draw pool. The visual variety is refreshing to watch as the field evolves from the standard lush green to a patch of dark, barren earth or snow-covered trees.
I appreciate how DorFromantic’s mode selection offers multiple options for enjoying the experience depending on my mood. A creative mode allows building without restrictions, even letting you discard poorly fitting tiles. In contrast, Hard Mode offers a tougher challenge with more complex pieces. Quick Mode condenses the game into short sessions, great for doing quick rounds out on the go. Monthly mode mixes up longer games with new batches of custom rules every month.
I spent a lot of time playing the PC version of DorFromantic when it launched in Early Access last year. The experience translates well to Switch, though using controller inputs to move tiles and the camera is, unsurprisingly, less intuitive than the fast accuracy of a mouse. It’s not bad by any means, although it’s my favorite way to play. That said, it’s a fair trade off for tile-matching benefits in bed or on the sofa. Plus, the simple yet colorful art direction, which has a hand-drawn quality, appears on the small screen.
Dorfromantik balances its strategic and casual elements well, and it’s easy to fall into a calm trance of falling tiles. Pulling the camera back to reveal the full scope of my landscape always feels like a satisfying reward for my subtle, hard work, like stepping back to admire a finished painting. Although it’s not the kind of puzzle game I feel compelled to play more than a session or two in a day, I always appreciate the better mood it leaves me with.