In an endless sea of tapping games, Clash of the Clan rip-offs and games with an extortionate in-game purchasing system, it’s nice to see a game that is not only free but also different and engaging. TerraGenesis, an iOS app by Alexander Winn puts you in charge of a barren, inhabitable planet and all the tools needed to terraform it into a lush verdant livable planet.
There’s no story-line in TerraGenesis except for the stories the voices in your head tell you, so we’ll move on quickly.
There are three basic elements of gameplay, these are mining, building and researching new technology that will change your planet over time. This is not a game you’ll complete in an afternoon. It will take days or weeks to terraform your planet.
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a planet to terraform, I chose Mars as it is the easiest planet, but there are medium and hard options if you want more of a challenge. Whichever planet you choose, they’ll all have several factors that determine its current habitability, pressure, temperature, water, oxygen and biomass. It is the purpose of the game to get all of these factors to within a livable range. You’ll have to build technology that will change your planet over time. This is not a game you’ll complete in an afternoon. It will take days or weeks to terraform your planet.
All of your planets factors can be changed by building equipment and technology on the planet. Build a colony on the surface, and now you can build technology within that colony. These can be habitation pods to house people, or it can be technology that will alter the planet surface itself. Beware because often a technology that changes one planet element might adversely affect another. You’ll have to balance the output of your tech to ensure that each factor hits the sweet spot.
Terraforming a planet does not come cheap, so you will need to think about is getting some cash. The biggest source of income is mining your planet for minerals. You start off being able to mine carbon which is high-yield with a low selling value, but you can research other materials that are rarer but more valuable such as rhodium and silver. Mining can only be done at an outpost, and you can’t just plop a mine down anywhere you’ll have to scan the area for deposits of that mineral.
The final major element of TerraGenesis is research. You can spend your hard- earned credits to research new buildings and technology. Put enough credits into research and you can make major changes to your planet’s surface.
Those are the basic elements, although there is still more to TerraGenesis. There are wildcard events that can occur at any time, and culture points that can sway the ethos of your planet causing big increases to wealth, or biomass for example. When you’re colonies get suitably large there are spaceports to invest in.
Graphically, there isn’t much to speak of but what there is, has been done well. The screen is mostly an image of your slowly terraforming planet, with a button overlay.
In a similar way to the graphics the sound is nothing special, but as you view you’re slowly rotating and ever-evolving planet, the music has a sort of lost and barren alone feel to it.
As I near the end of terraforming my ‘easy’ planet I’m already imaging going back and giving medium or dare I say, hard a go. Although, it’s likely that you’ll just try to follow what you did on previous games, the changes in difficulty will add extra complications.
The other factor which doesn’t normally help, but in this case it does, is the fact that there is only so much you can do before you have to wait for more money, or something to be built or researched. Because you have to put it down you don’t reach over saturation.
If you want to give TerraGenesis a try, then you can download it for free from the iOS Store here