The prospect of getting to colonize other worlds is a dream that has captivated people for decades. It’s a vision that is motivated by our desire to explore the stars and establish new homes for the human race apart from our own beautiful Earth. And on the forefront of this quest for expansion is the Red Planet itself, one of the most daunting and impressive planets in our solar system.
Games that allow you to realize the dream of colonizing Mars are not new; in fact, the market is full of multiple titles that let you live out your colony-building fantasies. But unlike most of them, Terraformers is not a traditional base-building experience. In fact, it’s not even an RTS, to say the least. It’s actually more of a card-based puzzle game.
So with this review, we’ll take a look at how successful this game is at providing an enjoyable colony-builder experience. And spoiler alert, your experience with the title will depend heavily on what sort of strategy games you like to play.
Story And Setting
As mentioned a bit earlier, the goal of the game is to establish colonies on Mars and the plot of Terraformers involves various different challenges that allow you to do exactly this. You lead humanity in this endeavor, and your main task is to ensure that the planet becomes self-sufficient as you work towards a total of 300 Victory Points. Once you reach this mark, you essentially win the game.
There is no actual story per se, and players looking for something akin to a campaign will be extremely disappointed if that’s what they have in mind. What we do get instead is a selection of multiple scenarios that throw increasingly difficult challenges at the players. You have to meet these head-on in order to once again reach the desired 300 Victory Points.
So yes, be fully aware of what sort of game Terraformers actually is. It’s not really a big-budget title with fancy graphics and detailed animations, it’s more akin to a strategy mobile game in its structure, and I do not mean that in a bad way.
Now as far as the gameplay itself is concerned, the title revolves around a card-based system where players choose Research Projects at the beginning of every turn. These are basically the buildings you get to construct in your cities, and the entire sequence revolves a great deal around chance, as you accumulate an ever-increasing deck in your hands.
You choose from the types of cards that are made available to you per turn, and drag and drop them on the field if there are slots available to place them, granted you also have the available materials to construct them. These then generate food, housing, electricity, etc. for your colony, and the purpose is to always grow your cities as much as possible. You also get to explore various different nodes around Mars and unlock additional resource providers like mines.
The goal once again is to reach self-sufficient status, and you have to grow your population, build outposts, and even establish new cities in order to accomplish this task. You to manage the ever-rising demands of your population, which even includes providing them with sources of entertainment.
You also have to choose a new leader for your colonies every couple of years. These provide unique benefits for your cities, such as the ability to clear rubble from occupied slots, establish unique buildings and even explore the planet more efficiently. it’s a colony builder, you know what to expect at this point.
And like any good strategy game, those that don’t plan ahead will find themselves in a tough spot. For example, if you don’t manage your food production enough, then you might find that you don’t have enough available to make new habitats for your growing population. It’s always a balancing act, and overconfident players like me will be surprised by how quickly the complexity of the demands of your cities ramps up.
Visuals And Graphics
Terraformers is not a visually demanding game, in fact, you could probably run this game on a toaster if you wanted to. It doesn’t have a lot of 3D models apart from the rotatable planet map, and most of its other assets are actually 2D drawings that encompass everything from the appearance of the structures to the leaders you get to choose.
And I want to be clear that I am not bashing the game for any of this. The developers were clearly aiming for a small-scale game with a particular style in mind, and I think they’ve nailed it here. I’ve always been a proponent of games that look simple, as long as the actual systems within them have depth and complexity, and Terraformers mostly delivers on that promise.
The game looks colorful and has a clear and concise style, with each icon and card clearly conveying information accurately and effectively. You can’t say that any of the designs are particularly breathtaking or extremely unique, but they serve their purpose as well as they could.
I wish the developers had opted for a more unique art style that set Terraformers apart from its contemporaries because right now I don’t think anything about its visuals is all that eye-catching. It’s easy to see people glossing over the game because it looks extremely generic. I’m sorry to say that, but I feel like that’s the truth, and I myself wouldn’t have looked at it twice if I encountered it on a marketplace like Steam.
There is a depth to the gameplay of Terraformers that will appeal to a lot of strategy enthusiasts, especially those that appreciate a series of great challenges that keep ramping up in complexity.
But it’s also not the type of game that will appeal to a lot of casual fans of the genre either, due to its repetitive nature. It’s not really a dynamic game that reacts to your decisions like a lot of other RTS games, because it’s designed to be more of a puzzle experience. It can be really entertaining to be sure, but it’s also an Early Access title and it’s clearly incomplete at this point.
The art style is serviceable, and the game does a fantastic job of making sure that every menu and icon is properly highlighted so that the player never feels lost. But the art is also incredibly boring and uninspired, and I can’t think of any redeeming qualities that might make it stand out from all the other Mars Colony-Building games on the market.
I think that Terraformers is okay. I had fun with it, and I’ll definitely jump back into it when version 1.0 launches. But right now, I feel no urge to jump back into it after playing for a few dozen hours.
- Strategy Gameplay Is Rewarding.
- Game Rewards Proper Planning.
- Challenging Puzzles.
- Lack Of Originality.
- No Replay Value.
- Art Style Leaves Much To Be Desired.
Terraformers Rating – 3/5
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