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I have a lot of time for Terra Nil. I’ve written about it before and extolled its virtues as a city-builder that doesn’t do things by the book. It felt pertinent and relevent in 2023, and even more so as scorching heat waves cause chaos in 2024. It might be one of the most ecologically-aware games I’ve ever played. So it’s nice to have an excuse to get eyes on it again this year.

In case you need a primer, Terra Nil is a chill, meditative twist on the city-builder genre that asks you to repair, rather than build. To use advanced eco-tech to transform a barren, desolate wasteland into a thriving, vibrant ecosystem. You know you’ve done a good job if you leave no trace you were ever there. It, truly, turns the genre on its head.

The game, dubbed an ‘eco-puzzler’ by developer Free Lives (who you may know from much less wholesome projects like Broforce or Gorn) and publisher Devolver Digital, is getting a massive expansion that greatly expands the amount of content on offer – and it’s completely free to play on Netflix, by the way.

Transforming Terra Nil is one of the most satisfying experiences in mobile gaming.

The new expansion, titled Vita Nova, is the first major update for Terra Nil since it was launched to critical acclaim last year. The new content expands on the neuvo-city builder’s restoration-centric gameplay with five tricky new levels, nine new buildings, an updated world map, and a dramatic overhaul of the wildlife system.

If you took joy in clearing away polluted debris and watching the natural, local ecology come back to life, you’re going to appreciate the new leves like Polluted Bay, (a dead landscape carved in half by a badly polluted river), or Scorched Caldera (a vast volcanic crater that you must terraform into a life-filled freshwater lake). Building on the skills you learned in the base game, these new levels breathe fresh life into the intricate mechanical systems Terra Nil introduced us to the first time around.

Better yet, the expansion overhauls some of the main systems (notably, the map and camera – giving you a better view of things as they happen without gluing you to a grid the entire time), meaning a replay of – or first experience with – the campaign will feel like a whole new experience.


Terra Nil’s free Vita Nova update is available right now on PC and Netflix, (and we’re told the Switch version arriving soon).





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