Developed by German company Bitfall Studios and published by Toplitz Productions, TerraScape has just hit early access. While Toplitz has published some fairly well-known games, Bitfall is the new kid on the block, with TerraScape being their first title. I’m always happy to see a new Indie burst onto the scene, so join me as I check out the early-access gameplay.
Plan, Build, Score
Bitfall has referred to TerraScape as a deck builder card game, with elements of puzzle and skill, strategic planning is key. Genuinely, I go into this one not knowing what to expect.
TerraScape is essentially a card-based city builder. Yea, that had me a little confused at first too, but let me explain. The game works on decks of cards. Being turn-based, players pull a card to place on the table, earning points based on influence – more on this later. Unlocking new cards based on points earned, and repeating the cycle while working through each deck. It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, I assure you.
In a nutshell, a deck contains cards, and cards represent a specific building. Placing cards generates points, and as points increase you unlock new decks. To earn more points, place your cards in influential positions – influences can be positive and negative. Let’s say you’re placing a town hall card, you would gain/lose influence based on surrounding environmental factors such as access to water, forests and town. So… decks, cards, influence and points. That’s about it, you’re ready to build!
What sets TerraScape apart from other games of the genre is the lack of harvestable resources or production. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but autonomous production and resource gathering isn’t something you need to worry about. Instead, we spend all of our time simply expanding our town by placing new cards. The developers refer to TerraScape as a deck builder, but in truth, it doesn’t really fit into any one particular category. It takes elements of deck builder card games, mixes them with elements of board games and plugs all of that into a city builder. Somehow though, it works.
In most city builders players will try to create segments for their structures, sectioning certain kinds of buildings. For example, in command & conquer you always had a dedicated area for power, and a dedicated area for military production. In TerraScape, it really isn’t like this at all. If you want to place cottages in random areas across the map, you can. No matter what you do or how you build, nothing ever looks out of place. Although certain placements do provide benefits, you rarely find yourself stressing or thinking too far ahead.
In truth, Bitfall has created its own unique little title, and I applaud them for doing it. While it might not make headlines, TerraScape certainly has some real potential to do well amongst casual gamers.
Graphics & Audio
TerraScape opts for a bright and colourful low-poly art style, with a mix of 2D and 3D artwork. Everything looks picturesque and artsy, it almost feels like we’re building a painting. Visually, the game offers one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly satisfying watching my town expand as I explore the rolling hills and blue lakes.
You’re able to zoom in enough to make things interesting, and really feel like you’re part of your settlement. Clever usage of LODs (Level of Detail) means the game not only looks great, but it performs well too. TerraScape only requires 6GB RAM, an Intel Core 2 Duo Q6867 and a ATI FireGL T2-128 or equivalent to run smoothly, but it will run on less if you need it too.
Unsurprisingly then, the audio is light and cheerful, with inspiring background music and pleasant ambient forest sounds to match the picturesque visuals. The gentle creaks of water wheels and windmills, accompanied by songbirds and fishing boats really immerse you in the game world. Honestly, this is one of the most relaxing titles I’ve played in recent years, and it’s a great way to pass some time and wind down after a busy day.
I’m pleased to report no graphical or audio issues were found during my playthrough. Just highly polished content and well thought out design work – I’m surprised this is classed as early access and not a full release.
Surprisingly TerraScape actually has a multiplayer function. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone else with the game, so was unable to test this game mode. However, from the launch trailer, I can see that the multiplayer is turn-based (as you’d expect from a card game) and super casual. My guess is that players compete to see who can score the most points while expanding their kingdom, based on the influence gained while playing cards. If you’ve checked this game mode out, maybe let me know in the comments below. I’d be eager to hear your thoughts.
In a single player, you’re able to break off at any point and return when you like. Being a casual game, half an hour to an hour feels about right per session. Though in all honesty, you could easily lose yourself and play all afternoon, it’s just so relaxing!
More of a relaxing experience for passing the time than it is a game, TerraScape offers players a gentle escape from reality and could easily serve as an entry level game for new gamers. With light gameplay elements, upbeat audio and pleasant graphics, this one is suitable for literally anybody. Did I mention the game is available in French, German, Italian and Spanish? Bitfall really kept their market open!
Finally, is it worth its price? Well, I think so. TerraScape costs a modest £11.49, which honestly isn’t a lot for the experience you’re getting in return.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.