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 (26) - 88% of the 26 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (857) - 91% of the 857 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 (17)

July 2

Freeplay Mode Launched!

Freeplay Mode Added

Customisable - play your way!
Freeplay is a highly customisable game mode giving the player full control over what creatures and landmarks can spawn, how hard they want the game, how the difficulty of the game will change as time goes on and much more.

The Dunes Freeplay map – a monster of a map!

The Dunes is the largest map in the game to date, made possible through optimisation of the surface tiles allowing us to get more for the processing power. It boasts:

  • 4 possible start locations for the player’s colony
  • 120 by 120 surface tile grid (the previous biggest being 96 by 126)
  • 80 locations for landmarks to spawn and 25 locations for creatures to spawn


Freeplay colonies can be saved and returned to later, allowing you to take your time and even try that horrible attack wave again. For now saving is manual and there is no backup; we are planning on introducing backups in a future update.

Landmarks – let’s make this interesting!
Landmarks are various interesting points on the surface. They are randomised in look, functionality and location, will appear and disappear as your game progresses and scale with the difficulty setting.
    Aphid Farm
    • Has between 2 and 4 patches of 10 aphids
    • Has randomly generated plant decoration
    • Ladybird attacks increase with difficulty
    Poppy Plant
    • Will intermittently drop poppy seeds; the dropped seeds have a limited lifetime
    Funnel Web Nest
    • Generates dead creature chunks
    • Contains funnel web spiders that will kill nearby enemy creatures (from the player’s colony… or anything else it is big enough to take on!)
    • Number of spiders increases with difficulty
    • Has randomly generated stones nearby
    Dead Fish
    • A large source of food
    • Will attract enemy ants
    • Attracts large group of enemies of a specific type
    • This large group stays around the central point
    • The size of the group increases with difficulty

Creatures fight each other
In Freeplay mode creatures on the surface will duke it out with one another. However, they will not just attack anyone! Some of them will not attack larger creatures, or will ignore the smaller ones. In Freeplay every creature has a list of other creatures they do not want to fight.

Random start location
The player will start in a random pre-prepared start location. These undergrounds are similar in the resources that are available but the locations of resources are different, including where they start on the surface.

Day / night cycle and spawning
If turned on, the game will slowly tick from day to night and back again. When day turns to night nocturnal creatures will come out, and diurnal creatures will hide. Some creatures are about in both time periods. A full 24 hour cycle lasts 30 minutes in game-time.

Food spoiling
Creatures killed in Freeplay mode have a limited time to be harvested before they “spoil” and disappear (3m). Additionally, food generated by funnel web and poppy plant landmarks do the same so as to not cause too great a buildup of food.

Uber creatures – oh boy, it’s a big one!
Ubers are souped-up versions of some of the larger creatures. They can be identified by a red glow, increased size and will be announced in a message when they spawn. There are 4 types that are as difficult as each other and all provide 1000 food when killed. They take much longer to spoil than other creatures because of this (10m). The 4 types are uber hermit crab, uber beach tiger beetle, uber devil’s coach horse adult and uber beach wolf spider. Enabling Uber Creatures increases your score.

Attack waves
Up for a real challenge? With this enabled waves of enemies will spawn every 5 minutes after an initial setup period of 12 minutes. These wave will get stronger over time and do not drop food. How many can you survive? Enabling attack waves increases your score significantly.

Difficulty settings
Difficulty is handled differently in Freeplay mode. The difficulty changes as the game goes on and affects things such as the spawn rate of enemy creatures, how aggressive they are, how much food dead creatures drop and the difficulty of landmarks. You can set the start point of the game difficulty and how you would like it to change as the game progresses. There are several options.

  • Constant – the difficulty remains at the value initially set and gets no harder.
  • Ramp – the difficulty gradually increases at a steady rate.
  • Spikes – the difficulty remains constant however it will spike up in difficulty every now and then. It spikes for a
  • random amount and for a random length.
  • Ramp with spikes – the difficulty steadily increases as the game progresses but will every now and then spike up in difficulty. It spikes for a random amount and for a random length.
  • Scale With Colony – as your colony size increases so does the difficulty, meaning you should always feel a bit pressured no matter how well you are doing.
  • Random – every so often the difficulty is randomised and stays there for a random amount of time. Note you may end up starting at some very hard difficulty.

Nest entrance can be dug out, and are hidden until done so (visible on minimap)
In Freeplay, your route to the nest entrance is not dug out to begin with - giving you the freedom to plan your nest your way. You will know where the entrance is from the minimap, however you will need to tunnel to it to reach the surface.

Select your species
Choose from one of the species from the campaign (currently black ants or wood ants) or chose one of your Formicarium colonies to play Freeplay with! If you choose one of your formicarium colonies all the upgrades you have chosen for that colony will be available for your Freeplay colony (note the ants themselves do not transfer, just the upgrades).

Fog of war
Enemies and food will be hidden from you unless you are nearby, what will be lurking for you in the shadows? Fog of war greatly increases your score!

Soft population cap (Upkeep)
After a certain number of tiles have been built, further tiles will begin to increase in cost. This makes the end game more challenging whilst also keeping performance high. Workers have a seperate population. This can be disabled in setup.

So, what’s the point?
  • You are free to build up a colony and try and survive as long as you can! You can also try to score as high as possible as you will be given a score on defeat. This score is affected by several options:
  • Nest invasions increases score by 50%
    Uber creatures increases score by 10%
  • Attack waves increases score by 10%
  • Fog of war increases score by 150%
  • Disabling population upkeep reduces your score by 60%
21 comments Read more

July 1

Freeplay Beta Patch 0.122 Released

There have been many changes since the last beta update. This will hopefully be the final version before general Freeplay release. Many of the changes have focused around having a better game experience, making the end game more difficult and improving performance. Along with this many bug fixes have been added.


  • Population upkeep cost added to Freeplay. This feature has been added in order to make the end game more challenging whilst also keeping performance high. The end game is now more difficult with fewer creatures.
    • This is a soft population cap and will increase the cost of ants beyond a specific population
    • Workers have a seperate population
    • Cost increase is exponential (starts small and increases rapidly with each ant)
    • This can be disabled in setup, however doing so will reduce score by 60%
    • Added in notifications for a few things in freeplay
    • Fog added to minimap when Fog of war is on

Bug Fixes
  • Fixed an issue where moving the marker between the surface and underground could cause ants to walk to the edge of the map
  • Fixed an issue where ants could get stuck facing walls underground, especially when there were a lot of ants about
  • Fixed an issue where resource score was lost when a game was loaded in Freeplay
  • Fixed an issue where hovering chamber info could be seen in the death animation
  • Fixed an issue where dead creatures would disappear if brought underground with Fog Of War on in Freeplay
  • Fixed an issue where stored corpses despawned on game load in Freeplay
  • Time now restores correctly for scoreboard on loaded Freeplay games
  • You can no longer save Freeplay if your queen is dead
  • Fixed the levels displaying incorrectly on chamber hover information
  • Slightly altered queen start position on The Dunes Freeplay map
  • Fixed an issue preventing ladybirds spawning at the the correct rate for the difficulty in Freeplay
  • Fixed an issue where ants when loaded from a save would immediately go home from a trail end
  • Fixed an issue where ants would spin on the spot when walking or picking up food at the bottom of ramps
  • Fixed an issue where wood ant projectiles could hit a lip on the tunnel exit
  • Fixed an issue where ants were moved towards the queen on load if they were nearby (still exists but not as bad)
  • Fixed an issue where saved fish would have their food restored on load and could duplicate
  • Right clicking a notification now unpauses the game
  • Word cost removed from build tooltips
  • Fixed right clicking on harvestable resource placing marker correctly
  • Prevented photo mode when in a cutscene
  • Fixed an issue where ants would be very slow to register to a marker with no ants assigned
  • Funnel Web spiders will no longer attack wave creatures in freeplay
  • Minimap damage notification will no work no matter where your starting location

Changes / Improvements

  • Loading throbber returned to the loading screen
  • Tunnel exit tagged for excavation restores when loaded
  • Changed the information on chamber hover to be more relevant to each chamber
  • Reduced ant reaction time (wood ants should no longer reach targets before starting to fire)


  • Ant fog of war vision radius has been increased (nearly double)
  • At higher difficulties creatures will now drop less food (starting from 50% difficulty) and be much more likely to attack the player in Freeplay
  • Later waves will now produce higher level ants
  • Wave power significantly increased
  • Wave timer has been reduced to 5 minutes and a 12 minute setup time has been added.
  • Every 5th level wave creatures changed
  • Added a warning to the player if they do not tunnel to the surface when waves are queing up to spawn
  • Ubers can now spawn in all waves after wave 15
  • Wave number is constantly displayed once they start spawning
  • Added wave number to Freeplay score screen
  • Chance of Ubers spawning increases with difficulty
  • 14 landmarks will always spawn at the beginning
  • Landmarks types are now evenly distributed
  • A new landmark spawns every 150s down from 180s
  • Uber creatures stats reworked, should attack slower but be more deadly and deal AOE damage
  • Prevented smaller creatures spawning in waves later on (tiny spiders and devils coach horse larvae)
  • More creatures spawn at lower difficulties
  • Added a reload button on defeat in Freeplay

Performance Improvements

  • Refined collisions for substantial performance improvements
  • Performance improvements with certain animations
  • Performance improvements with skeletal mesh updates
  • Small optimisations added in for Freeplay
  • Blueprint Nativisation in use for substantial performance gains
  • Major optimisations in nurseries
  • Creature decision making moved into C++ for major performance boost
  • Job management speed improved
  • Minor array access improvements
  • Minor creature AI speed improvements
  • Multiple minor optimisations
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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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