As far as we know, Mars is not home to any life, but what if that were to change? In Terraformers, you can get a glimpse into what that might look like. Terraformers, developed by Asteroid Lab and published by both Golbinz Publishing and IndieArk, is a turn-based strategy game in which you are tasked with the survival of a human colony on Mars. While you might have some trouble doing so thanks to the poor tutorials, there is a lot to enjoy about this title. From the challenging yet fair difficulty, engaging gameplay and beautiful presentation this game is an enjoyable experience.
The Red Planet Awaits
As stated earlier, you are tasked with the survival of a human colony. To survive on such a rough planet, you will need to explore, expand and terraform the planet to the needs of the colony. All of this is done via turn-based gameplay. At the start of a new game, you will select a path. These paths determine the victory conditions for your survival. These conditions include but are not limited to reaching a certain amount of sustainable resources, terraforming the planet a certain amount, or populating enough areas on Mars. Upon choosing a path to walk, the game will begin by having the player choose a leader. Every leader has different skills, each providing different benefits. A leader only has one chance at being elected. Once this whole process is complete, the game will officially start.
As shown, it takes a long time to start playing the game. Even after all of that, the start of a new game is slow due to the limited resources at your disposal. Because of this, I didn’t enjoy the game at first. However, the player will eventually build their way up to a more self-sustaining system. Building trade routes between Mars and Earth, creating mines for resources and so much more. Going from a city with few resources to a planet with plenty of oceans and forests is very satisfying. While the start of a new game can be slow, building up the planet makes it worth it. After achieving the victory conditions, the player has the option of starting a new game or continuing with their current game in a free-play mode. After clearing a game, your level will increase; giving you more options in future playthroughs.
In this title, you have a lot to manage. But how do you spend your resources? Why gather resources in the first place? Well, Resources can be used to build cities, fund projects, and create trading routes. These actions will increase the resources gained and the support level. Every few turns you will receive a continuous decrease in support. If the support level reaches zero or lower, it’s game over. Some actions may cause negative support level gain, however they may be necessary for gaining more resources for future support level gain. This risk and reward system is very interesting and can lead to a very difficult time surviving on Mars, especially with the chance of random events, like earthquakes, occurring. When all the mechanics are at play, it can be quite challenging, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
The Sounds and Looks of Mars
Terraformers looks and sounds incredible. Every detail from the menus to the amazing illustrations and even the soundtrack adds to the incredible presentation of this game. As soon as you see the title screen, you can tell you are in for a treat with the amazing artwork on display. These pieces are also used to display scenarios you encounter while exploring Mars. The menus are easy and simple to navigate while being fun and satisfying to use which is very important for a game with so many menus. While all this is good, the soundtrack is the highlight of the presentation in Terraformers.
The sound design is jaw-droppingly amazing, featuring a full orchestral soundtrack. This soundtrack made me feel emotional and it made the experience all the better. The best part about the soundtrack is how it reacts to what you do. For example, if you start growing plant life, it will play a jungle-esque beat, or when you complete the objective and win, it will play a triumphant melody. Listening to this soundtrack is truly a treat for the ears.
Terraformers, Space at its Finest
While Terraformers has its faults like the unclear tutorials that don’t explain the mechanics of the game very well, it is overall still a very fun game. This is thanks to the fantastic presentation, the many unlockable options and difficulty options leading to a very replayable game, and the challenging yet enjoyable gameplay. I strongly recommend giving this game a go. While it has a slow start, I encourage you to push through its grueling start to find a fantastic game with a lot of depth and an emotional soundtrack.