Terra Nil update Vita Nova substantially improves core gameplay loop

Terra Nil Vita Nova Update Preview Thumbnail

Terra Nil, which launched last year billing itself as a “reverse city-builder” has returned with its first major update. With the new update comes new maps, features, and improved systems meant to make the experience of rebuilding nature much more enjoyable.

For context of this Terra Nil preview, you should check out our review of the initial game here.

The part of the update that most players will be interested in would be the new maps for them to try and fix up as their own. The five new levels, which also add in new buildings not seen in the initial launch, range from a polluted river players will have to clean up to a massive destroyed crater.

Each level contains new buildings to change things up from original launch so that returning players will have reason to come back and try these locales out. As the person to originally review this game last year, I’d say they had good ideas, but the execution was a bit lacking.

It’s not as if the new buildings adding in new gimmicks are necessarily bad, but they do little to make me feel like I was playing an upgrade to the game and more that I was just going about business as usual.

The visuals for the new areas don’t aid in giving this a fresh new feel either. It is as if these levels were already designed for the base game of Terra Nil, but only just launched now to give players a reason to come back a year later.

However, while lacking in giving reason to return for players who already had their fill, these new stages are perfect for those who fell in love with the gameplay loop and simply want more. And there is enough different that people in that crowd will be more than happy with what they got.

Now if this was all the update had to offer, then it wouldn’t be worth calling itself a major update. However, developer Free Lives did overhaul one important system that any returning player will surely appreciate. This overhauled system focuses on how reintroducing animals into the ecosystem players built works.

When I reviewed the initial launch last year, easily one of my biggest complaints came in how animals worked in this game. It was clunky, unintuitive, and nearly impossible to actually get the conditions right to get them to show up. Fortunately, they weren’t required to beat the game, or else I’d definitely would’ve given Terra Nil a negative review.

So this update sees a big overhaul in the animal system and it’s a vast improvement over the original. It falls in more naturally to the standard gameplay loop, so players don’t have to go out of their way to get them to appear.

There are also new additions to make getting them more clear to players while also providing them with the tools and time to be able to properly manage them just like everything else within the game.

This part of the update makes returning to the game a must for those who enjoyed playing Terra Nil. If you haven’t played the game before, I think this update improves and provides enough that were this my original review, I’d given it a higher score.

Terra Nil has been available on Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android, Netflix, and PC (via Steam, GOG, and Epic Games Store).

The Terra Nil: Vita Nova update build was provided by Devolver Digital. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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Got into gaming thanks to a nice old lady who lived across the street. Enjoy most genres of games.

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