Most city builders are about making your mark on the landscape and turning it into your own. Not Terra Nil: this is a game all about giving the land back to nature, and it’s sublime.
We’ve only spent a short amount of time so far with Terra Nil, but in a few short hours we’ve already become enamoured. Though calling it a city builder is something of a disservice, because there are actually no cities to be seen in the game. Rather than building upon the land, you’re here to purify it, to heal it, to let nature thrive. And seeing it happen? It’s glorious.
Arriving on a barren patch of land, you’ll have to do some work to get your ecosystem up and running again. You’ll need to build wind turbines to generate electricity, and purifiers to get rid of the toxins in the air. Eventually, your land will be fertile enough that it turns green again. From there, you can set to work growing forests, getting water pumping around rivers and letting bees pollinate and bloom flowers. Within minutes your once arid, barren landscape is now a thriving, colourful wonder of nature.
Once your ecosystem is ready, it’s time to introduce animals. You’ll need to hunt for the perfect locations for animals to thrive, and this is one of the trickiest – but most rewarding – parts of Terra Nil we’ve encountered so far. Each type of animal has very specific requirements: some might need to be in water but need a forest nearby. Others might need to be near flowers, but also a wetland. If your land doesn’t quite meet the requirements, you might need to tinker with it some more to get it just right.
And, once you’ve got animals in place, it’s time to remove all trace of you ever being there. That means tearing down those wind turbines and purifiers: after all, nature is healed now – they don’t need to be there any longer. Eventually, you’re left with a beautiful, thriving ecosystem that is completely self-sufficient. Look upon your hard work, smile, and move onto the next barren world.
Of course, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. There are different difficulty modes to choose in Terra Nil. We opted for the easiest, which promises a laid back experience: that’s exactly what we got. If you want more of a challenge, higher difficulty levels are more concerned with currency and ensuring you’ve got enough resources for every step of the way. But we’d recommend at least starting on the easiest difficulty, and sinking into this joyful little builder with nothing to stress over.
No two games of Terra Nil will ever be the same, either. Each new area is randomly generated, and so the land you’re working with is unpredictable and ever-changing. One with lots of riverbeds might make for an easy transformation. Another with hardly any gives you another obstacle to overcome. There are different types of land to uncover too, each bringing their own challenges to the mix.
We’re having a blast with Terra Nil, a gorgeous, relaxing anti-city builder that’s truly taken us by surprise. This is the type of game we can imagine whiling away many chilled evenings with. Taking away the pollution and ruin of the real world might not be so easy, but in Terra Nil, allowing nature to take over is therapeutic indeed.