Ant colony management game, in a fast-paced real-time strategy style. The player excavates their nest underground, constructing tunnels and chambers to store food and raise brood. On the surface, the ants claim territory, gather resources, overwhelm fearsome arachnids and clash with other colonies.
Recent Reviews:
Very Positive (32) - 90% of the 32 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (1,052) - 91% of the 1,052 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Dec 1, 2017

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Since releasing our first demo in Spring 2016 we have received mountains of feedback from the community, which has been constantly shaping the game’s core mechanics and features.

We feel this has ultimately resulted in a better overall game and we want to continue moving forward with help and suggestions from players.

A side effect of this iterative community focused development, is that whilst we have been putting more time into tweaking the game’s inner workings to create the ideal mix of ant colony realism and compelling gameplay, it has put us behind schedule in terms of producing a final product that we can label as “complete”.

We have now reached a point where we are able to release something far grander than the original demo. However, while we are confident about the state of the game’s mechanics, and the amount of playable content currently available, there are additional game modes, creatures and abilities that we are still working on. All of these will need balancing, and that process works best with player input.

It seems to make little sense holding back the game’s release for what could be another 10-15 months of development whilst we work on additional levels, and features. We would much rather continue our work in the same manner as we have done for the past year: with the help of our enthusiastic ant-loving community.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We estimate 10-15 months of further development with community engagement.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“The main difference between the full version and early access versions will be the number of playable missions. New missions will be introduced over the course of Early Access, and these will feature new ant species, enemy creatures and environments.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“We have re-structured some parts of the game specifically for early access. The early access version includes four stand-alone missions with unique creatures, music and narration as well as a short “formicarium” story mode. This content is considered to be complete and unlikely to be added to between now and final release (except for potential bug fixes, performance updates etc). Therefore the experience should be similar to the final product. Over the course of early access, we plan to introduce new content as blocks of complete missions, ready to play.

Bugs are also an inevitable possibility (the software kind), however we are beta testing separately and will make every effort to resolve issues before pushing early access updates.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“We have no plans to change the price when we leave early access”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We try to facilitate community feedback and engagement wherever possible. Since we released our first demo last year, we have received over 1000 feedback messages that are publicly visible on our Stomt page. We read all of these and they have significantly shaped the evolution of the game - especially when we start to see the same point raised more than once. Longer discussions take place on our forum and we always respond to Facebook messages, as well as anywhere else we find players who want to get involved with the game’s development.”
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Recent updates View all (28)

January 14

December 2018 - January 2019 Newsletter

Our first newsletter of 2019! A bright, shiny, spanking new year – and it’ll be a big one for ants. After the holiday break the guys are back to working on the 3rd tier Formicairum levels. We’ve also released a couple of glitch-fixing patches in the meantime to deal with some widespread issues. Firstly, let’s get to what’s ready to show from 3.1 and 3.2.

A Formica ereptor queen from MorPacke

Jumping Spider

Salticidae is a widespread family of spiders that can be found all over the world. They travel widely in search of food and do not spin webs to catch prey – instead they actively hunt, using powerful back legs to pounce on unsuspecting prey before it had the chance to react. For this reason, they are known as the jumping spiders.

The species that will appear in Empires of the Undergrowth is Psecas viridipurpureus, a South American resident. It’s brightly-coloured, and even a little cute if you can see past its arachnid form! It sits patiently, turning its body from left to right to allow its highly specialised eyes to scan the environment. When it spots a likely prey item, it perfectly calculates the distance it needs to travel, then pounces.


The harvestmen are a diverse group of arachnids (order Opiliones). They may colloquially be called daddy longlegs. Although superficially spider-like in appearance, they differ greatly from true spiders in several ways. They have no distinct separation in thorax and abdomen, and only a single pair of eyes. They are further distinguished from spiders by often being generalist, opportunistic feeders rather than predators – a rare trait in arachnids. They might hunt, scavenge or graze. The South American species in our game is sometimes called the “Jason’s mask harvestman” because of the distinctive hockey mask-like pattern on its back.

In-game, the harvestman keeps its body at a safe distance from attackers with its long legs – although the legs themselves can be quite brittle. It may have a cursory nibble at a trail of leafcutter ants, but it will make a quick retreat if it suffers an injury such as the loss of a leg.
Bam! Hunting behaviour


Leafhoppers are small insects that subsist by consuming sap from plants. They’re related to cicadas and spittlebugs. True to their name, when startled or in need of new feeding grounds, they leap many times their height into the air and find another leaf to feed upon. As members of the order Hemiptera, leafhoppers are “true bugs” – insects with specialised mouthparts that feed by sucking.

Sometimes when you design a game, you want to include things purely to set the tone and enrich the world. That’s the case for leafhoppers in Empires of the Undergrowth – they’ll appear in the leafcutter levels to bring a sense of biodiversity to our recreation of the incredibly varied rainforests of Ecuador. The leafcutters obviously do not eat other insects, but their leaf-cutting activities will disturb the leafhoppers!

What Did We Do In December?

One of our developers John took a few minutes to make this post on our official forums during the last week. He details some commits (changes) made to the game source control by himself, Liam and Matt over the course of the Christmas break. Please follow that link and have a look through it yourself, but I thought I’d just highlight a couple of points he included for the sake of intrigue:

  • Balance changes to the refuse chambers – in this commit John is referring to a mechanic that will be introduced with the leafcutter levels, the refuse chambers. Leafcutters grow fungus from their foliage cuttings, and the spent fungus produces waste. It will be the job of minim workers to remove waste from the fungus gardens to the refuse chambers. Failure to have sufficient refuse chambers far enough away from the gardens will have a detrimental effect on the workforce.

  • Focus on large creature patrols – we’ve shown you some fairly big new beasts for the leafcutter levels, but we’ve not shown you everything! There are some things we don’t want to spoil just yet, if at all.

The Spiny Devil - one of the creatures getting several size variations

  • Medium-sized Spiny Devil – like the beach tiger beetles, hermit crabs and wolf spiders in the 2nd tier, several of the rainforest critters will come in several sizes. This includes the spiny devil, praying mantis and harvestman. See the previous newsletter for details on some of those beasties.

  • Leafcutter resource system – resource complexity has a step up with the leafcutters, as a natural increase in complexity makes sense from a gameplay perspective. These things need careful implementation and balancing – and that’s an ongoing process.

  • Leafhoppers and a system to manage them – as well as doing the artwork for our decorative leafhoppers (detailed above) Matt has created a system to handle their behaviour. The other denizens of the rainforest won’t interact directly with the leafhoppers (they jump away much too quick) but they’ll still realistically ping themselves away when approached.

Leafhoppers doing leafhopper stuff

John hopes to continue these sort of posts on an informal basis every so often – just to give a little insight into the day-to-day work that goes into the making of Empires of the Undergrowth. He’ll only be posting them on our own forums, so this is a good time to get yourselves signed up to them and introduce yourselves to our small but friendly community.

The State of Play

We’re getting lots of people (quite rightly) asking how far away the leafcutter update is. We’d like to think that we can recognise things we’re not very good at, and it’s fair to say that estimating our release dates is one of those things. In our experience a missed deadline, even a vague and non-specific one like “winter”, is likely to cause disappointment in our fans and that’s the last thing we want.

The leafcutter levels (3.1, 3.2 and Formicarium Challenge 3) are each an order of magnitude more complex than anything and everything we did in the 1st and 2nd tiers, and it shows in our current testing. Rest assured, although we are taking our time, we are taking our time to do it right and the results will be worth the extra patience you lovely bunch have shown yourselves to have in abundance.

It’s been policy for a while, but to make things explicit – going forward we won’t be giving vague guesstimates – only solid dates when we’re sure of our ability to meet them.

Screenshot Central

As ever, we love trawling through the screenshots on Steam to find the best of the uploads. Take your screenshots on Steam (F12 by default) and upload them once you quit the game. Photo Mode (F9) will help you get some pleasing angles on your snaps! If you’d prefer not to deal with Steam, you can also email your pictures to

A festive snap from Smoky

Battle lines from WiseOldWeaboo

An easy-on-the-eye Formica fusca colony from MorPacke
21 comments Read more

January 8

Bug Fix Patch 0.1352 + Hotfix 0.1353

In this patch we have hunted down a bug that is crashing the game on Queen of the Hill. We thought we had it solved in the last patch but people were still reporting it. Thanks to our great community we have finally found it and interestingly it was to do with the ramp and ants falling through them when the tide rises. We have now changed how these work.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue crashing Queen of the Hill on certain hardware setups under certain circumstances. This issue was caused by ramps being made pass through-able when the tide rose on 2.1 and 2.2. This would occasionally cause ants that were pathing on them to fall and potentially re-path in a near infinite loop. This bug has been hard to replicate and hence hard to fix but special thanks to our community for helping us locate this one. Due to this we have made changes to how this works.
  • Fixed issues with creatures picking up other creatures (Interpolation should work vertically, creatures should correctly stick to the mouth and animation should play correctly during pickup)
  • Fixed an issue in Freeplay telling the player waves would spawn consecutively after 8 minutes when it should have been 12
  • Fixed a message telling the player waves would come every 5 minutes when in reality it is 6 (if you include the timer countdown)
  • Clicking the door in the lab no longer closes the game
  • Fixed an issue in Freeplay where the warning timer was not using the same calculation as the wave timer
  • All values in ant improvements are now rounded to 2 decimal places
  • Freeplay wave timer info now accurately represents the time between wave spawns and not the time from one wave spawning to the start of the next timer starting (13m setup 6m between)
  • Fixed some issues with the size of woodworm food items
  • Key presses that are meant to switch from above to below ground have been disabled in photo mode to prevent strange lighting changes
  • Fixed an issue where food could get stuck on the surface in your ant tunnel
  • Notification about the Gate mission 1 will no longer appear after you have completed it
  • Fixed an issue shrinking the areas ant could appear on the surface from the nest area
  • In-game UI elements are no longer shown in photo mode (Markers, chamber info ect)
  • Force player out of photo mode and prevent them entering it when victory of defeat is happening

Changes / Improvements

  • Creatures will no longer pass though ramps as the tide rises falling into the water. Instead any ants assigned to markers touched by the water will be immediately sent home when the marker is dismissed.
  • Beach tiger beetle larvae have been given high slow resist
  • On Queen of the Hill Challenge Mode in Easy, Normal and Hard beach tiger beetle larvae will spawn more often and increase the rate of spawns each day
  • Dead creature harvest locations and pickup locations have been more centralised, meaning ants should no longer carry woodworms within their bodies (at least less often) and harvesting should be from a more logical point of the dead creature

EDIT: Hotfix 11th January

A hotfix was released for this patch on 10th January, bringing this update to version 0.1353
  • Fixed an issue with ants staying with and repeatedly dropping a food item when all food storage was reserved, but not all food storage full
  • Uber creature resistances have been lowered
16 comments Read more
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About This Game

"Your queen has set up home beneath a rotting log. She is fat, and vulnerable. Her first brood will need to move quickly if the colony is to survive. Their priority now is to find food, and there is plenty around; but there are other hungry creatures in the undergrowth. The workers will need to be vigilant."

Empires of the Undergrowth is an ant colony management game, in a fast-paced real-time strategy style. The player excavates their nest underground, constructing tunnels and chambers to store food and raise brood. On the surface, the ants claim territory, gather resources, overwhelm fearsome arachnids and clash with other colonies. Nest design, army size, composition and attack timing are key to securing victory.

Missions are narrated from the perspective of a documentary film maker studying the ants, who offers intelligent insight into the goings-on of the colony and the undergrowth beyond. The primary game mode in early access is Formicarium, where you take ownership of a home colony of unique DNA-harvesting ants as they work to assimilate the desirable traits of their foes. You can upgrade them by playing one-off missions, sometimes with your home colony and sometimes with other ant species.

  • Carve out and construct your underground nest to suit your strategy
  • Engage in fast-paced colony versus colony combat above ground
  • Play as different ant species and explore their unique traits and weaknesses
  • Encounter and overpower dangerous beetles, arachnids and other awesome arthropods
  • Grow your pet formicarium over time by completing missions

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows 7 64-bit or higher
    • Processor: Intel Core i3-4340 / AMD FX-6300
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.12.6
    • Processor: Intel Core i3-4340 / AMD FX-6300
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • OS: Any reasonable new Linux distro (Ubuntu 16.04)
    • Processor: Intel Core i3-4340 / AMD FX-6300
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
    • Storage: 2 GB available space

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