Terra Nil

Posted:  Mar 27, 2023
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Terra Nil was provided by Devolver Digital and Tinsley PR for review. Thank you!

Welcome to the reverse city-builder that's all about reclaiming nature! Terra Nil will see you on procedurally-generated maps and use buildings to turn a devastated land into a thriving ecosystem. Reclaim soil and bring back the grassy wetlands and forests, clean polluted oceans, and bring back animals to a land they can survive on. Balance the landscape and make sure a plethora of variables are taken a look at like humidity and temperature, while immersing yourself in a beautiful environment with an awesome atmosphere and a great soundtrack.

Personally, Terra Nil feels incredibly refreshing. Games like this tend to be about dominating the land and destroying your opponents, so it feels quite different to actually be reforming the land and bringing back nature. The message is beautiful and the visuals follow suit. I love the graphical style and the animations of the land reclamation. It's also really cool seeing the differences between wetlands, grasslands, forests, ashy nutrient-rich soil, and how they mesh together and bring in different animals that you can clearly see! There are also different biomes that have slightly different mechanics, keeping things a bit unique to each spot.

The gameplay is also quite on-par with other strategy games similar to this one. You build machines on the map from a selection you have and have to strategically place them to get the most land in your reach and make it easy to recycle them. I really enjoyed the balance of the gameplay systems and how they worked together to create a cohesive experience that feels enjoyable to play! And with some compromises to controls, the game can be a lot of fun on the Steam Deck.

Terra Nil - Performance

Checking out the video settings in-game, there are only 3 options: Resolution, Fullscreen, and Vsync. At first, Terra Nil was running quite well without needing to change any of these, but as soon as the world started to expand, this changed dramatically. The framerate would start dropping and battery drain would skyrocket, and after some testing, I discovered it depended most on how much land you were viewing. The more zoomed out you are, the more power it needed. Logically, this does make sense since you are viewing a lot more on your screen, but I have seen some games that can lower quality the more you zoom out to mitigate this issue.

With that in mind, I settled on changing resolution to 1152x720 and using FSR to upscale through SteamOS. While the game looked slightly more sharp, the stability it offered was just enough to justify the change to keep the TDP limit of 8 I wanted.


Overall, with these settings, and a 40 refresh rate and FPS cap, I was able to hold a solid 13W - 15W average drain with a good chunk of stability. This does depend on how much of the world is able to be seen, but I found 4-5 RB presses from the most zoomed in camera works best.

Terra Nil supports 1280x800 resolution and the text on-screen didn't feel too small to read. But, controls can be a bit tricky.

No Controller Support, But Do Not Fret

Unfortunately, Terra Nil doesn't have any controller support. This is a bit of a bummer, since the game could be really awesome with the controller, but it wasn't included. We did end up modifying the controls a bit through Steam Input and uploaded our configuration as "SDHQ Steam Deck Layout", which works as best as possible with KB+M inputs. I changed some of it around to make it easier to select different tiered buildings and give a dedicated button to scan for animals. I also made put in a shift button so putting down multiple buildings is easier, though I didn't really use it much.



Terra Nil is a gorgeous and wonderful strategy game that not only relaxes you, but has you doing something different than other similar games. Being able to revive the world instead of destroy and dominate it is such a nice departure from the norm and I couldn't love it more for that. The game feels great, even with a lack of controller support. And while I do need to zoom in more to keep battery drain lower and the framerate more stable, it didn't take away from the experience on the Steam Deck. If you don't mind moving a cursor around, this will be wonderful to play on the Deck.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Terra Nil is an awesome little game that has you trying to give back to nature instead of destroy the land, which is such a nice departure. And with minor compromises and our control scheme, it is fantastic to play on the Steam Deck.

Build Score

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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