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Review

Terra Nil (Switch) Review

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I’m a big fan of movies, TV shows and games set in a post-apocalyptic setting. However, most media deals with the downfall just before or after the said world-ending events. What about all the hard work that comes after, to rebuild or restart the world?  

Terra Nil calls itself a “reverse city-builder”, so unlike some simulation games where you build a new civilisation, Terra Nil has you rebuilding a planet’s ecosystem after presumably humans have ruined it (just like in real life). Terra Nil lets you turn a wasteland into a grassland or tundra, clean the ocean, get the temperate right to promote growth and use the remains of a city as a skeleton for an animal sanctuary. 

It’s not something I expected from the developers of Genital Jousting. 

To get the planet back on track, you’ll need advanced technology to help you get everything back to the way it was. The buildings you create need power, keeping with the eco theme you use wind, and geothermal to power them. These other buildings make fertile soil, adjust the weather, pump water around, and clean it all up. There are four different biomes to clean up; each is one level in the game and requires different tactics and tech to complete.¬†

Depending on the difficulty level you select on some maps, you might just sneak through with a passing grade; otherwise, it’ll be pretty clear at some point that you won’t be able to complete the level. At least you can start again and try again with a different map. Completing the game to 100% will require a few run-throughs. You can adjust the game’s difficulty level to make it as hard or easy as you like.

Once your ecosystem is back in the right conditions, you can introduce new plant life, and animal life will thrive. When everything is done, it’ll be time for the cleanup. The cleanup, for me, is the most annoying part of the game; you have to make sure everything you place down is removed, but in doing so, you’ll often have to make new buildings so the cleanup bot can get to all the far-flung edges of the map. Later stages also have a cleanup drone, which makes it a little easier, but unless you plan out your buildings well, you’ll still have to make a mess again to clean up. Also, I hit a bug in the post-game where I couldn’t upgrade the cleanup drone, which would make repeat playthroughs more fun. It’s a fine line between the game’s ethos to create a lovely human-less world versus having to place buildings in specific locations just because of the game’s mechanics. 

The game’s art style is great, the buildings are highly detailed with a painting like quality. It is quite pretty when you get your little bit of land rebuilt. You can always tell what’s going on in your reconstruction efforts. Unfortunately, the Switch can’t keep up with some of the game’s later stages with abundant water – hopefully, it can be fixed. The game’s controls adapted from mobile controls also work well most of the time, but I still found myself hitting the wrong buttons for a handful of hours. Using L and R to move between building options and left and right on the D-Pad for other functions is weird. The way the pointer moves around the screen also has a learning curve, with the left stick moving the camera and the right stick moving the cursor within that camera range. 

Terra Nill is over in just a few hours, but there’s replay value here with the game’s generated levels. There’s also more to do post-game with a few scenarios opening up. If you try and go for the 100% it’ll take quite a while. Sadly, at the time of writing, I couldn’t progress any further into the post-game because of some glitches with buildings being unable to be upgraded. There were also several occasions of the game hard crashing. The developers say they’re working on it, but it is something to be mindful of.¬†

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Terra Nil isn’t the post-apocalyptic rebuild simulator I’ve been longing for, but it is instead an ecological puzzler with a good message. The Switch version of the game does have some weird control things, and I’ve had a few glitches and crashes as well, but if you’re after chill puzzler or to turn up the difficulty and be a masochist, Terra Nil is great while it lasts. 

Rating: 3.5/5

The Good

+ Relaxing as you want it to be
+ A post-apocalyptic rebuilding puzzler
+ Great artwork and subtle music is a pleasure to listen to

The Bad

- Once you've learned everything, its basically over
- Crashes and game-halting glitches present
- Controls are tricky to get a hang of, and there's no touchscreen support

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Terra Nil isn't the post-apocalyptic rebuild simulator I've been longing for, but it is instead an ecological puzzler with a good message. The Switch version of the game does have some weird control things, and I've had a few glitches and crashes as well, but if you're after chill puzzler or to turn up the difficulty and be a masochist, Terra Nil is great while it lasts. 

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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all. Please understand.

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