I have long waited for an off-world colony simulator in which the environment would change from an inhospitable desert to a lush green paradise to be enjoyed by future generations. Most space colony games focus on minute details about colony life. Whether it's resource balancing, construction-space management, or even social issues, the focus barely leaves off the one patch of land that you're entrusted to develop.
The idea of terraforming an entire world is a very fitting theme for an idle game. Oh, don't worry, there's no tapping on buildings for resources or any of those annoying freemium tropes that we often see. TerraGeneis is a macro-scale simulation with easy to understand concepts and, most importantly, gameplay that doesn't require constant babysitting.
Let's jump into it. You will begin with a hefty amount of credits which you will spend to establish your first colony. Do not expect any fancy graphics. You can only visualize the settlements from orbit, and they look like bright clusters of light. The main attraction is seeing a barren world turn into a lush world due to your terraforming efforts. Beyond the planet itself, you will only deal with buttons, text, values, and scales. But on the other hand, TerraGenesis comes with a very calming suite of spacey ambient music to soothe your senses.
But getting back on track: Colonies only begin producing credits in time and at an uneven pace, so in the meantime, you will have to establish mining outposts to fund your social and terraforming projects. These facilities extract various resources to sell for credits back to Earth. There's an interesting mini-game that you'll have to play every time you want to establish a new mining operation. The only measure of success is your patience in finding the richest deposits in the area.
The only way to ramp up the colonization effort is to spend credits into research. Your colonies are not only living space but can be fitted with the latest terraforming technologies. In time, you will be altering heat, pressure, oxygen, and moisture to pave the way for vegetation and even engineered life forms. Research can also benefit mining, as you will unlock the ability to mine for rare and expensive minerals.
Finally, besides providing manpower for your projects, your growing population will generate "culture points." You will spend these to influence your society on four key aspects: Economy, Ecology, Government, and Values. Whichever way your colonists are leaning, you will receive some bonuses and penalties. However, culture points are also a vehicle for colony independence. It's not to say that TerraGenesis is on par with Sid Meyer's Colonization, but if you ever want to "win," you should invest twenty of them into getting the Independent status.
TerraGenesis wouldn't be complete without a random event generator. As you play, your colonies will generate stories that will influence their future development. For example, I was faced with an anti-intellectual movement which I was unable to prevent. Colonies might develop unique architectural styles or become tourist attractions for various reasons. At the same time, there will be plenty of events on which you will have to choose between two outcomes, making every colony a unique place on the surface of your new world.
The app's only downside is the way in which it runs. Even though the graphics are arguably minimalistic, the gameplay stutters when changing screens, and locks up for a second or two whenever the music track changes. It would be nice if the developers would fix these issues.
Do I like Terragenesis? Oh Yes! Even though the game is not exactly a feast on the eyes, there is such a drought of grand scale colony sims out there in Play land, that I can forgive almost any technical mishaps Terragenesis might have, at the present moment at least.