Dwarf Fortress’s byzantine level of complexity makes it ridiculously difficult to learn, which is a shame because its algorithmic story-generation on the calamities of mining with dwarfs is one of the true marvels of the medium.
But what was once extremely difficult is now merely hard, as a third-party tool called Stonesense renders the game's inscrutable ASCII into a far more readable isometric landscape. And get this: You can also now click on things with a mouse, instead of having every key on your keyboard mapped to the duties of metallurgy. This should really help solve the riddle of manipulating a multidimensional game that is presented in dense flat characters, so demur no longer, folks.
Plus, it’s fine timing to finally give Dwarf Fortress a shot, because a major update to the game, which has been in development since 2002, is due to hit very soon.
You can get your feet wet with the Dwarf Fortress Starter Pack, found here.