Dedicating life to preserving and helping the environment is one of the most admirable things a person can do, and raising awareness is essential to such a cause. Thanks to studios like Free Lives, we can learn a lot about how nature works and what we can do to help in the game Terra Nil. This is a 3D strategy affair that focuses on resource management and planning. It's about achieving small goals so that you can unlock new tools to further expand your efforts. There's a sense of hope and fulfillment that comes from planning a scientific game about restoration.
The earth is not in the best shape at the moment which is why so many are exploring stories and ideas about how it can be saved. This is the whole point of Terra Nil and it brings it across very clearly. The game is set on an earth-like planet where most of the land has turned into an inhospitable wasteland. As an omniscient entity, you arrive on the planet with some technology that is quickly repurposed into new devices. By using them, your job is to restore the land, piece by piece, climate by climate, and species by species. It's a noble endeavour that will require a fair amount of planning.
It's not easy to make an educational game that's both enjoyable and doesn't feel overly educational. However, Terra Nil has hit that nail on the head. As soon as you start things up, the tutorial kicks in and explains the situation. The gameplay and concepts may seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t take long before you know exactly what’s going on. The buildings are clearly identifiable and separated by purpose. You have a detailed compendium with useful and informative content you can refer to at any time. It makes you want to learn not just so you can be more effective as you progress but just so that you can understand what's in play.
Even a game about saving the environment is bound to have some flaws since it's not an easy task. With Terra Nil, certain issues can not be overlooked, such as clarity. This is most noticeable in the animal species part of the restoration where you need specific arrangements to attract the right animals. Even if you do manage to create a setup that provides good environmental coverage, the details of what each animal wants can be tricky to interpret.
Then there's the spamming problem. There are some structures that, once they're placed, take effect immediately and then are no longer needed. This means you can just place one, remove it a few seconds later, and then place a new one to get repeat effects. This becomes more prominent in the recycling stage where you might have to repeatedly place structures to fill up the meter.
Terra Nil is a 3D nature sim about restoring a ruined world to its natural glory. It's informative, fun, satisfying, and strategically challenging. It may not always be clear when it comes to animals and spamming structures for progress, but that's not the point. The point is to learn about ecosystems and what you need to do to make them thrive on earth and in Terra Nil.