Terra Nil, the reverse-city builder from developers Free LIves, is a beautiful experience. After playing a demo build provided by Devolver Digital, It’s safe to say this has climbed high up on the list of my most anticipated games.

Terra Nil Teaches Us to Leave The World Better Than We Left It | Hands-On Preview

The game tasks players with returning life to a desolate wasteland. Taking the barren soil and ash-filled rocks of a landmass and providing them with lush greenery and flowing rivers. You start by placing windmills to provide clean energy and pods to fill the ground with grass and flowers. 

The demo taught me how to carve out rivers, place irrigation systems, and begin to breathe life back into the world it was taken from. It’s a zen-like experience that isn’t focused on building a lasting civilization, but rather providing nature and restoration to the world around you. 

After I rejuvenated the world around me, I was then tasked with expanding the area into three distinct biomes. This is where some more strategies came into play. Wetlands need to be built on top of the existing grass pods to turn the surrounding area into wetlands. In order to make a meadow, I first needed to build forests, which can only be born out of a specific type of soil.

To gather this soil I had to start controlled burns and scorch some of the earth and what I had built previously in order to bring it back better than ever. It’s important to never be too precious about where you place your pieces or the beauty you’ve created because ultimately you’re going to have to change everything around you. 

After I brought these distinct biomes into existence another layer of the strategy was introduced. Now I was to take all of the buildings I had placed on the map and recycle them. Leaving no stone unturned, I was to dismantle it all and leave nothing but the nature I nurtured in this space.

That’s when Terra Nil really hit me. It was never about making a lasting space for myself. It was always about leaving the world better than we found it. It’s a message that rings all too true in this day and age. 

Recycling your buildings, loading them into cargo ships, and bringing those boats to the airship felt like I was leaving the little home I made from nothing. When all was said and done. We took off and left that space vibrant and teeming with life. The demo ended, but it was clear there was much more work to do with the rest of the planet.

It’s worth mentioning that the music is calming and lo-fi, adding to the peaceful and restorative ambiance the team at Free Lives has cultivated for Terra Nil.

If you’re interested in Terra Nil check out the Steam page here. 

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