Terra Nil Looks Like a Beautiful World-Restorer

Restore all the biomes!

Terra Nil was originally a more pixelated prototype on itch, and is now a more full game with not-pixelated 2D art in development for Steam by the team called Free Lives who previously developed Broforce, but both versions of Terra Nil share a terrific idea the developer calls a “reverse city-builder.” Where you’re helping to restore a barren wasteland and then removing everything man-made in order to leave the environment better than you found it.

I checked out the free demo available as part of Steam’s E3-ish goings-on called Next Fest (running until the 22nd) where there are a lot of demos for download from upcoming games. This new version of Terra Nil is very interesting. Terra Nil involves a bit of planning ahead to determine the best course of actions in order to restore as much of the procedurally generated map as possible while balancing three different types of biomes. For example, you can place different structures to clean the land to make it arable and then irrigate it with the irrigator structure, but it turned out that you also need some irrigators near streams in order to make the wetland biome. There’s a whole lot of if you’ve done this in Terra Nil, then you can do that. It seemed overwhelming at first but after a bit it became clear that you’re not trying to be perfect, just a bit strategic in advance.

The natural scenes and sounds of the biomes in Terra Nil are also just very pleasant and relaxing. An almost perfect follow up to a chill Duolingo stream.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the Steam version of Terra Nil goes. There’s no release date or price yet but the developers say that while the demo is Windows-only they want to make the full game available on Mac and Linux as well. Free Lives have made versions of Terra Nil for all three operating systems with the name-your-price prototype on itch.