Terraformers – Preview
Follow Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Asteroid Lab
Publisher: Goblinz Publishing & IndieArk
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Switch
Tested on: PC

Terraformers – Preview

Good: Challenging in a good way, Beautiful art & music, Great gameplay
Bad: RNG can be annoying
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Terraformers will have you colonize Mars: the red planet. You’ll start by founding the first colony on a barren and unwelcoming planet, but you’ll strive to grow towards establishing a rich civilization on a planet teeming with life! This challenging strategic colony-building game is currently in Early Access, and it is developed by Asteroid Lab and published by Goblinz Publishing together with IndieArk.

In Terraformers you will colonize Mars and try to terraform the planet. There’s not much of an overarching story being told beyond that. Nonetheless, there are a few parts of the game that do contain some story elements. You’ll need to select a leader for your colonization project, and these leaders do have a nice background, explaining where they come from and what their special abilities are. There are also some random events that pop up every now and then, which show support from big companies, for example, letting you choose a reward or reject a company that is trying to ‘greenwash’ its bad reputation by offering you goodies. These kinds of events do provide a bit of insight into the setting of the game.

The graphics of the game are really pretty. The title and menu screens look very beautiful and hand-painted, and the images depicting the cities you build look very nice and will gradually change as your city grows. As you terraform the planet, you’ll see forests and oceans appear on the map as well. The different leaders you can select all have fitting character art of the type of leader they are, with a nice and colorful futuristic look. The images of all the projects you can build look distinct and original, and match the sci-fi setting of the game.

The soundtrack of Terraformers is very nice and relaxing orchestral music, which changes into a more triumphant tune as you progress with your terraforming process. The sound effects as you select and build things are helpful and fitting.

Terraformers is a card-based strategy/simulation game in which you strive to eventually terraform Mars. You’ll start with a single city and select a leader for this monumental project, and slowly you’ll explore the planet, mine resources, trade with Earth, found new cities, and try to keep your people happy.

Each turn you’ll start with several cards, representing projects you can choose from to build. Building something costs resources, and these resources you’ll need to mine or trade. Buildings will generate resources or provide population, and population will allow you to expand your cities.

Resource management plays a big role in this game. The different resources are food, water, energy, science, nitrate, silicates, titanium, and uranium, which corresponds logically to the type of project you’ll need these resources for. You’ll be able to mine most resources on planetary locations you’ll discover when exploring, or you can generate these resources within the cities. At the beginning of the game, resource generation is rather slow and you can explore only one new location each turn, but the pace speeds up as you build more cities and gain more resources per turn, but also when you unlock additional methods of exploration. You’ll also be able to set up trade routes to trade excess resources for resources that are sparse. Every now and then you’ll be presented with a random event that might offer you some extra resources to help you, like the discovery of supply crates or the support of an influential company from Earth. You’ll need each resource for many different things; building, terraforming, or enhancing your cities, so you’ll need to choose wisely what to spend resources on.

You’ll need a leader to lead your new colony on Mars, and the game will present you with interesting choices to select. Each leader has the ability to explore, but also a few unique abilities which can come in real handy at certain stages of the game. For instance, some leaders can provide you with new lifeforms to spread, and the possibility to adjust the requirements of these lifeforms. Others can mine resources from anywhere on the planet, or increase the happiness of the people by bringing them a religion.

You’ll need a bit of luck to be presented with the cards you’ll need most, and you’ll also need luck to find adequate quantities of the resources you need nearby your colonies, so you can effectively mine them. However, as you progress in the game, you’ll be able to unlock more project cards each turn, and exploring the planet’s surface will go faster as you’ve built more cities. This doesn’t mean the game gets easier over time; as you progress, the expectations of your populace will also rise, which means that you increasingly need to work on the comfort of living and divert resources to terraform the planet.

It’s a real challenge to successfully run your cities and keep the resources coming in, as well as balance the happiness of your denizens on the red planet. Once in a while, the expectations rise, lowering the happiness of your people, which you need to compensate for. On top of that, sandstorms and quakes happen every now and then as a random event, which will damage buildings, and these damaged buildings will further decrease happiness while not providing any resources, so they’ll need to be repaired quickly. However, if you’ve been focusing on increasing overall happiness and comfort of living since relatively early in the game, as well as slowly divert resources towards terraforming the planet, you’ll notice that happiness will increase significantly. Each time you’ll manage to reach a new terraforming stage your people will gain happiness.

There are several different game modes to choose from once you’ve completed the first scenario, all of which have a different set of objectives to reach before you can achieve victory. You’ll be able to play games with increasing difficulty, and as you complete games you will unlock new content like different leaders and additional buildings. In the Early Access stage, the unlockable content is easily attained by playing a few rounds, but the developers added a beautiful roadmap showing all the content which is yet to come to the game before it is fully released.


Even in its Early Access stage, Terraformers is a well-executed and fun game! This game will keep you playing for ‘one more turn’, making hours fly by as you try to manage your settlements and enjoy the relaxing music. The game is fun, but not easy; it’s really challenging to keep the happiness of your population high, especially if you have bad luck finding certain resources at the beginning, or if you get leaders with skills that aren’t very useful at that stage of the game. However, as you get the hang of the game, you’ll learn to compensate for some amount of bad luck by making strategic choices in order to balance out resource generation and terraforming as the game progresses. If you enjoy challenging strategic city-building games, this might be a good game to try!

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Terraformers - Preview, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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