Created by Eric Hornby, Earthtongue is not your average indie game. At its very core Earthtongue is a life simulator game, where the player gets to cater for a wasteland which starts to attract simple life forms once more. A game where you need to study well the documentation and experiment a lot to even start to make sense of the mechanics, Earthtongue proves to be quite the challenge to those who lack patience. But let’s get down to it, shall we?
You wake up in a devastated world. There is darkness everywhere, destroyed buildings in the background signify that once a great civilization stood in the place of this now god forsaken wasteland. Perhaps it used to be our world, but our hero is burdened by an even greater question, who is he? How did he end up here and what is he doing here? After a while he notices some spores falling from the sky and where they land, fungi of various colors and shapes pop up. They seem to live off the nutrients that the rain brings down to the soil. Some little bugs also start to appear which thrive on the fungi or other insects. A microscopic ecosystem that look like could use our heroe’s help!
As my incredible storytelling skills demonstrated above, in the game’s world we will see random spores and bugs fall from the sky to the land where they fight for survival. Some insects will eat fungi to survive, while others will need to find adequate amounts of fungivore insects in order to survive and reproduce. Apart from the natural occurring events, we have a limited power over this ecosystem. With our god-like powers we can introduce new insect and fungi species in the world, terraform the landscape and even trigger phenomena such as rain fall and even meteor showers. However, in order to do so we need to spent points from a resource which is refreshed only by the passage of time, so make sure you use your powers wisely every time. Let’s go deeper now.
While the game progresses the hero will write entries to his journal where he explains little by little the mechanics of the game. In the beginning we start clueless and press random buttons to try to make sense. After a while though, everything seems to come together. We will learn which insects eat fungi and which other insects, which fungi reproduce with spores and which eat insects! The game gets a lot more interesting the more the mechanics become clear to the player, since we can plan strategic moves and solve or cause problems to the ecosystem. For example, if one fungivore species starts to overpopulate the area and cause problems to the local fungi, such as cicadas, we can introduce carnivore insects, such as wasps, to control the population. Be careful though cause if too many predators are introduced, the fungivore population will be eradicated along with the predators, which will starve. The fungi however will spread even more with the insects gone. So, as you can understand Earthtongue is mostly about trying to keep the balance across the various species of the ecosystem. What is more, natural disasters like droughts or meteor showers will happen unexpectedly and can completely annihilate the landscape. You have to always be ready to manage such crises.
Earthtongue’s pixel art based design seems to work well with the theme of the game and its mechanics, while it is reminiscent of older games, with some creatures being similar to the bad guys from space invaders! One major complaint I have is that the game does not offer enough options for my taste. I would like to see even more fungi species which grow to massive sizes and more terraforming abilities. Nevertheless, Earthtongue is a solid game, which kept me entertained for many hours and I definitely recommend it to those who like life simulation games. In closing, we shouldn’t forget to mention that the game includes two more maps, one Halloween themed and one fantasy themed, which offer the same mechanics but with different life forms.
Earthtongue is a life simulator game which lets us influence an alien ecosystem and try to achieve balance across the various species, so that they call all thrive on this hostile environment. A game about observation and experimentation, Earthtongue is almost guaranteed to keep you glued to your screen, looking at your little world!
+ Beautiful Pixel Art graphics
+ Provides a soothing experience
– We would like to see more variety in the species
Dimitris “Onel” Zarachanis