The eco-puzzler Terra Nil is getting its first major update featuring a 'dramatic overhaul of the wildlife system'

Wolf standing in a wheat field
(Image credit: Free Lives)

Terra Nil is kind of like a reverse city builder—instead of planning and managing a bustling town, you expand its base into the wilderness that surrounds it, bringing nature back to a desolate wasteland, trying to restore dead biomes as you go. There's already a lot to love with this strategy game, but now developers Free Lives are getting ready to add even more. 

An upcoming major update will be the first of its kind for Terra Nil and will expand "on its deeply satisfying nature restoration gameplay… and a dramatic overhaul of the wildlife system," according to a press release. 

"New levels include Polluted Bay, a dead landscape carved in half by a badly polluted river, and Scorched Caldera, a vast volcanic crater that you must terraform into a life-filled freshwater lake. These, and all the new maps in the Vita Nova update, will put your reclamation skills to the test in interesting and unusual ways." 

Another change that may not be as impressive as the various new levels but is still undeniably great is the new Vita Nova map. Now it's fully 3D, players can freely rotate it letting them get their bearings and also find locations easier, and plan projects out with more accuracy. It may be a small detail, but I always find static maps quite frustrating for city builders—I like to pay pretty close attention to mapping out current and future builds and have found the rotating maps let me paint a more accurate mental image of what the future of my builds will look like.  

Aside from this, there's also a new overhauled wildlife system to look forward to in this update. Apparently, it should make "these transformed landscapes feel more alive than ever," the press release says. "Animals emerge more naturally as you play, and have a deeper set of needs to fulfill to keep them happy and abundant. This not only adds a new dimension of strategy to the game but gives you more animals to admire—including a brand new species, the jaguar—as nature is steadily restored."

I usually go for city builders that actually let me build a city, but Terra Nil's nature-first approach is refreshingly pleasant. It's nice to not just try to restore the natural environment but to put some real thought into making the ecosystem habitable for the animals that'll take up residency there. 

Terra Nil is also really relaxing which may be surprising considering the fate of several biomes and the lives of its inhabitants rest in your hopefully capable hands. One of the features that helps with its meditative vibe, alongside its simple puzzles, is definitely the fact that after all your hard work is done, you pack all your equipment up and move on, leaving no trace that you were ever there. It's a nice change from the usual megacities that I leave in my wake and is definitely a more morally sustainable way to play city builders. 

Elie Gould
News Writer

Elie is a news writer with an unhealthy love of horror games—even though their greatest fear is being chased. When they're not screaming or hiding, there's a good chance you'll find them testing their metal in metroidvanias or just admiring their Pokemon TCG collection. Elie has previously worked at TechRadar Gaming as a staff writer and studied at JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs about Smash Bros. or any indie game that crossed their path.