World Turtles – PC Preview

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World Turtles has just hit the market for PC and is available for both Windows & Mac OS via Steam. This is primarily a city builder/colony sim with aspects of strategy and exploration, developed by ‘Re: cOg Mission’ (who I think is a solo developer out of South Africa) and published by Freedom Games.

Upon A Turtle’s Back

“The World Turtle carries entire civilizations on its back through outer space, and the gentle Meeps are the only ones on a quest to save it. Cooperation, rather than conquest will save the day, so prepare to harvest, build, research, and explore the void in this wholesome turtleback builder.” – Re: cOg Mission

Gameplay

Primarily, World Turtles is a city builder colony sim strategy game which offers 3 modes/maps; the Hatchling map, Juvenile map and Adult map. Thankfully there’s also a handy tutorials mode which you’re likely going to need to play through – as there’s a bit of a learning curve. The game also offers a map maker mode, custom world mode and challenges mode for the more advanced players. There’s also a story mode which I was unable to play through – as it’s disabled on review code editions of the game.

Screenshot showing the World Turtle
A world upon a turtles back, hurtling through space

Guiding the Meeps who live upon the turtles’ back, it’s our job to ensure survival for both the Meeps and the World Turtle as we travel through space together. Controlling Meeps is not done directly, but instead indirectly through selecting their buildings and choosing an action. For example, control your stone miners by accessing the stonemasons’ building and selecting a new area to gather from.

Meeps will occasionally shout helpful tips, letting you know what they need, such a wanderer’s cabins or woodcutter huts. New Meeps will join your civilisation over time, but be warned… not all Meeps you meet are friendly. Discovering unfriendly tribal Meeps will eventually lead to some sort of confrontation.

Screenshot showing a band of tribal Meeps
Discovering tribal Meeps will lead to inevitable confrontation

Mixing elements of building, gathering, and technology advancement you must utilise your Meeps wisely as you balance their needs against your Turtles. Meeps are divided into separate classes, such as woodcutters, stonemasons and builders. From here, the game is similar to most colony sims in that the player must balance tangible resources against available housing, and be prepared for expansion. There are also geological events that can take place throughout the game world. Such as sub-surface rocks moving on fault lines, which can lead to the formation of new rivers! Or the change in world temperature.

Controls

We have the basic ability to manipulate time, either pausing or advancing it up to 6x – very handy for the impatient builder. We traverse the game world using a mouse pointer or WASD, from a top-down perspective, and we have a handy little mini-map for quick navigation. My only concern with the control system is the way you rotate structures. Done through mouse pointer and not keyboard input, it feels a little clunky. This makes it difficult to group buildings close together. Overall though, the controls work well and there’s not much to pick at.

Graphics & Audio

I played with Ryzen 5 3600, RTX 3070 and 32GM RAM. Although the required specifications are only 2GB RAM, GTX 550 and Intel Core i5.

World Turtles offers an exploratory soundtrack, think Halo meets Interstellar meets Pirates of the Caribbean – particularly the ‘in-port’ music. It’s difficult to describe but it works very well with the game, and changes from time to time to keep things interesting. You can also skip through soundtracks while in the game if you want to hear something specific.

Screenshot showing zoomed out view of full game world
The world builder has a steep learning curve, but offers extra content to the more adapt player

Meeps will often talk to you, especially through interactions like assigning a woodcutter – a nice touch. The voice acting is done really well. Combined with the background noise of Meeps chopping wood, building new structures and birds singing it really layers up and immerses you within the colony. Hearing “That’s where I would’ve put it!” after placing a building was both hilarious and encouraging. Thanks, Meep friend! Think I’ll call him Bob.

In terms of graphics, World Turtles is low poly 3D with 2D overlays – as you’d expect for the genre. It looks great, it matches the gameplay and soundtrack and makes for a chilled visual experience. Changing graphical settings dramatically affects the ground clutter and shadows, but most PCs should run this one on Ultra.

Screenshot showing a players encampment
Make use of the handy tips, they really help you get started

One thing I noticed, which I absolutely love is that the game has a fan art button on the home screen. Players are able to submit their own digital artwork to the developer discord for inclusion within the in-game fan art slideshow. How cool is that?! It really creates an inclusive community feel around the game.

Accessibility

The game is available in around 8 languages, making it more accessible to a wider audience. For the best possible experience, I’d recommend going into the accessibility options and enabling all settings and also lowering the music volume a little. You don’t want to miss any helpful tips from your Meeps!

Longevity

World Turtles isn’t a huge game by genre standards, but it certainly isn’t small either. Offering more than enough to make it interesting, it’s well worth the £16.75 price tag. While I was unable to check out the campaign mode, I imagine it will offer a more structured and story-lead version of the content I played.

Screenshot showing the loading screen
Loading screens offer handy guides and helpful tips

The additional game modes, such as the challenge mode and the map builders certainly add to the longevity and replayability. Perhaps replay on a different-sized map to encounter new challenges and terrain. Depending on how interested you find it, you could potentially sink some serious hours into the map builder mode.

Final Thoughts

There’s a learning curve to the game and you’ll have to be prepared for some reading at the start. But as you progress, things start to click into place and become more fluid and natural. It’s a little heavy on the overlays and the screen can be a tad cluttered at times. But other than this, there’s not much to complain about – especially given that this is a solo developer game!

Overall, World Turtles get a big tick from me. It offers some exciting unique environmental mechanics, an interesting and creative storyline and some pretty strong visuals.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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