(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8eYqNNxICE (/ embed)
To city builders I have become accustomed to entering a virgin desert and cutting roads immediately into the landscape, building power plants and water pumps, placing buildings, residences and skyscrapers until I have a booming and bright city, where once there was only nature. Terra Nil, announced today by Devolver Digital and Free Lives (developer of Broforce), is not that.
Terra Nil seems like a twist on the usual idea of overwriting nature to make room for humans. Yes, place structures, power plants, and other buildings in a landscape, but it’s not green and healthy. It is a dead and totally ruined ecosystem, all arid tundra and dry river beds and skeletal trees.
This is where he comes in with equipment to rejuvenate the world. Using generators powered by wind turbines, water tanks and high-tech planters and other eco-friendly machinery, you’ll cover the map with green grass, healthy trees and sparkling rivers, encouraging the return of wildlife. Some of the machinery looks like it can be reused from military hardware: at one point in a trailer, a cannon fires a deadly-looking projectile, but instead of flying something, instead of cutting a new channel of river in the dusty plains. This is a way of landscaping.
At another point in the trailer, a fire starts, although it is not clear if it is an accident or intentionally, as destructive as it is, forest fires also rejuvenate the soil, killing insects that spread disease to trees. and burns the undergrowth that blocks sunlight. In fact, you may need to burn things from time to time to encourage the growth of new things.
Perhaps most interesting is the trailer that shows that once the landscape is alive and well again, pack up all your gear and leave. The ultimate goal is not to build a massive bright metropolis full of people, but a healthy green pocket of nature where deer and bears can roam happily. Then remove all traces of your machinery and let nature be nature, without any artificial objects being seen. Kind of a wonderful thought, really.
There is no fixed release date yet, but a demonstration of Terra Nil will be available on June 16 as part of Steam Next Fest. There is also one previous version of the game to "name its price" on Itch.io you can check it out.