Review: Terra Nil is comfortingly repetitive
Mobile games are games, too, and Terra Nil is especially relaxing in its simplicity.
Sometimes gaming can be too much. Too much strategy, too much stimulus, too much energy expended. But if you’re still looking to do something relaxing and zone out, mobile games or more simplistic titles can often scratch that itch. Terra Nil is one such game that isn’t particularly challenging but is rather calming.
And really, in today’s world, taking some time to zone out is important. Relaxation is self-care, and self-care is important in reducing your levels of stress and anxiety. So forget what your parents (and mine) said when you were a kid, playing video games is good for your health.
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This reverse-city builder shows a planet ravaged by its biggest threat: humanity. Greed and selfishness have resulted in a world decimated by unchecked climate change and expansive urban life.
Terra Nil lets you take this barren wasteland and transform it back into a lush paradise. This genre usually focuses on building up an empire, but instead Terra Nil uses technology to reclaim an ecologically-devastated planet, restoring flora and fauna and clean water.
Each region progresses in much the same way and the game ramps up and builds on concepts as you play. There is an easy rhythm found in cleansing the soil, clearing the water, growing new plants, re-introducing animal populations and watching the world come back to life.
You’ll need to carefully decide where you place the machines that help with the restoration work, however, as you don’t get the option to recycle them until the very end.
There are four distinctive environments, each representing its own level of difficulty with their own challenges. The aesthetics are quite simply on-point, which pairs really well with its simplistic and minimalist design and soothing soundtrack.
When you’re done, the goal is to have a delightfully untouched map, much like how you begin several other games. Think about Civilization or Age of Empires, where a pristine map represents all the untold resources you’re about to mine into extinction. Terra Nil says “but what if we didn’t?” And that’s fairly beautiful.
Even better, the developers (Free Lives) put a portion of their sales towards the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Unlike a lot of games out there, we only have one planet. Games like Terra Nil and their devs remind us that we need to do our part now before it’s too late.
Terra Nil is available to play on Windows PC and can also be downloaded for iOS and Android from Netflix (yes, Netflix has a mobile gaming section included in their app!).