Niche is a natural selection game about survival and genetics

There's an interesting history of games about survival and genetics. Creatures, Spore, Sheltered, Galapagos: Mendel's Escape and Black and White have explored the idea of nurture as a game mechanic. 

Niche is the latest. It's a turn-based survival sim that unfolds across multiple generations. You have to move your small family of fox-like creatures around to find food and potential mates, and to avoid predators. When two of your set procreate, their genetic traits are passed down to the child, who then grows up within a few turns and succeeds its parents' hunter-gatherer duties.

Predators disrupt this, naturally. The rustling of a bush could be a potential mate, or a huge carnivore. If your animals are wiped out entirely the game ends, and you must start again.

Games have struggled to build interesting decisions around natural selection. Niche's slightly contrived solution lets you use magical genetics points to strengthen genes and bring out the traits you want—improved strength, for example. It's in a primitive state at the moment, but Niche could be an interesting new angle on the nurture genre. You can download a free demo from the official site. It has already passed its target on Kickstarter, and has been Greenlit for Steam.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.