For you sci-fi buffs, terraforming won’t be an alien concept. The basic idea is making a planet more Earth-like and therefore habitable, often by tinkering with factors such as the atmosphere.
You’ll find terraforming in everything from the scribblings of genre heavyweight H.G. Wells to sandbox sims like Spore. There are a handful of terraforming games already on mobile, but few have the level of detail TerraGenesis boasts. Here are 7 reasons you should start shaping worlds with this ingenious indie sim.
Explore the Solar System
Whilst there are fictional planets to play god with, as well as a random planet generator, the draw of TerraGenesis lies in the way it depicts real planets. The likes of Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus are all playable worlds, as are many moons of the Solar System. They aren’t just slapdash approximations, either; developer Edgeworks Entertainment used NASA’s own satellite data to create pixel-perfect renditions of these galactic bodies. Whether you’re building a colony on Olympus Mons, flooding the Valles Marineris or melting the ice on the surface of Europa, you’ll be exploring real landscapes, as they exist in our universe.
Tackle harsh realities
Mars is a freezing desert with almost no air, while Venus’s atmosphere is thicker than seawater and hot enough to melt lead. The true challenge of terraforming a world isn’t creating colonies, it’s fighting the elements. TerraGenesis uses detailed simulations and realistic physics to bring your worlds to life, and presents them through a clean, minimalist interface. This allows the game to feel authentic and challenging, but in a way that’s still approachable for people who don’t come from a scientific background.
Create utopia – or dystopia
As you transform the surface of your new world, you’ll transform the culture of your new colonists. Will you build a capitalist boomtown or an eco-friendly, space-age eden? The values, traditions, hopes, dreams, and fates of millions of colonists are in your hands. In TerraGenesis, you can create a promised land for all of humanity, or a nightmare to last millennia.
Support the indie spirit
TerraGenesis is a rare indie success story. Developed by Alexander Winn in his spare time, it managed 1 million downloads in its first year on the App Store, and is following suit since its April launch on Android, creating an enthusiastic player base around the world. If you’re keen to support indie developers, or just curious what can be done by one person with a passion for space exploration, this is the game for you.
Freemium done right
Developer Edgeworks Entertainment didn’t want TerraGenesis to become a money trap, so has carefully eschewed the ‘pay-to-win’ experience. The game comes with five playable worlds completely free, which is about a month’s worth of gameplay, whilst other worlds cost a small fee to unlock. The ads are optional, with in-game rewards as incentives, and everything available through in-app purchases can be obtained through normal gameplay without paying a penny. So players can terraform ‘til their hearts content, without being pressurised into parting with cash. That sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
Dig deeper, learn more
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to play TerraGenesis, but if you want to dig a little deeper into the ideas behind terraforming, there are The Archives. It’s a treasure trove of information explaining the science and ethics behind this hypothetical approach to space colonisation, as well as its influence on popular culture. It isn’t an essential part of gameplay, just a bonus for those curious cosmonauts.
Life finds a way
A fairly new addition to the game, Biospheres give you even more god-like power over the life that springs forth from your world. You can genetically engineer customised organisms and release them into the wild. Start with microbes, then plants, then herbivores and carnivores, splicing individual genes to ensure that each species is adapted for your world’s environment. With literally millions of possible organisms, you can build an entire ecosystem. But be careful – the addition or removal of the wrong species could bring the whole house of cards collapsing down on itself.
If you want to terraform your way around galaxies both real and imagined, TerraGenesis offers a challenging and engaging simulation to do just that. Having won over fans on iOS, it’s just received a release on Android too. The latest update, ‘Historical Earths’, even lets you play with time. Engage with everything from cavemen to dinosaurs across a bundle of new planets. Be wary of WorldKillers, though; this host of disasters, ranging from meteoroids to rare diseases, might just throw a fatal spanner in the works.
This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners