Netflix Games are very versatile and therefore it is not surprising that a strategy-like game like Terra Nil is on the platform. This Free Lives game has a strikingly pronounced art style, but we wondered whether such a strategy game translates so well to the screen of our phone. We can answer that positively: it works fine on your smartphone screen. That doesn’t mean it’s a great game though, because there’s a pretty frustrating edge to it.
At the beginning of Terra Nil it is still a wonderful game. It’s relaxing, you’re doing a bit of gardening. The idea is that you create a beautiful wilderness with trees and flowers and fertile soil. All this feels wonderful. However, you must constantly keep a close eye on what you have at your disposal: your resources can go fast and regrowing them can take a long time. That balance is sometimes difficult to find and while that’s part of the game, it’s not for everyone. I don’t have the patience for it: it has to be fun.
Now you can easily restart it because the levels are procedurally generated, so every time you play is different. But yes, just like in Rollercoaster Tycoon, for example, you don’t always feel like starting all over again if you’ve just spent quite a lot of time in your country. But the fact that it is not always the same country you start with makes it less bad. And less boring anyway. Combined with that beautiful visual style, you probably play Terra Nil a bit longer than you would think in terms of frustration level.
Frustrating in a soothing way
That is also very twofold about this game: on the one hand it is soothing, on the other hand it is maddening. The music is beautiful, the environments are beautiful and you can tap around at your leisure. But at the same time, you can get very frustrated with those resources and the idea of having to start all over again. Yet that is also part of the gameplay. Gameplay that otherwise runs very smoothly, because the game was very clearly deliberately well tested before coming to mobile. The buttons are in the right place and it is very clear how the controls work.
Ultimately, Terra Nil is a good game that you should definitely try because you can play it ‘for free’ via Netflix. If it’s not for you, you’ll notice it soon enough. You do get a lot of time in this game to do things at your leisure, at the same time this game can quickly provide some .. awareness about your possibilities. Or the lack thereof.
What’s another interesting twist in this game that we haven’t mentioned before is that it’s a reverse city building game. That means that you are in a world where climate change has caused major problems and you must ensure that the parched soil comes back to life. So you should never build a city, you should ensure that nature has room to grow again. It’s painful to go through, making it hard to hold onto that zen feeling.
It’s a pity that a game in which you can do something so fun also has such a rough edge, although that is the reality we live in now. In that respect, the game could be even more educational in our opinion. What happened, why? Maybe we’ll learn a little more from it and we’ll last even longer. Nevertheless, Terra Nil is certainly worth a try, because you still learn a lot from it, but it could have responded more specifically to the consequences of climate problems. Definitely a game to try, if only for the psychological battle it puts you in with yourself. Very interesting.