Earthtongue

Earthtongue. It could potentially be a disease caused by eating too much dirt as a child, but thankfully it isn't. It's a tranquil vivarium sim that lets you play God in the name of science. As we all know, science is cool! Follow me as I attempt to create my very own circle of life...

Now normally your standard vivarium is a small closed-off replica of an ecosystem used for control and observation. Our scientist takes it one stage further though, using a stretch of planet for research purposes. While potentially unethical from a science standpoint, the ramifications for us are very nice as we get to do what we want without fear of protests or regulation.

Starting with a humble fungus, it's up to us to determine our own level of involvement in the fledgling ecosystem. We can sit back and watch the world unfold slowly by itself, or we can use 'intervention points' (received over time) to introduce new fungi, bugs or weather events into our vivarium. Even here we have a choice. Do we wait and save up our points for the bug we really want, or do we go for the budget random option with a less predictable effect? We can drag animals around and place them near food supplies, or we can leave them to find their own way and potentially starve to death. Basically, the only lose state is a mass extinction, which I think is the best kind of lose state!

I've been playing the game as an extreme scientist, with the time advance on the fastest setting, spending all my intervention points on random things, and I have ended up in a world where pink fungus and mantises are king. The game is shy on details (you unlock more information by keeping critters alive for a long time) so I didn't know that a mantis is an apex predator that would swiftly murderise my snails and roaches.

Playing a slower game is definitely more relaxing, and we get the chance to observe the complex systems below the seemingly simple façade. Dead beasties can be used as fertiliser, some bugs lay eggs and different fungi are hardier than others. There is still a lot that I have to discover, and I look forward to doing so!

Earthtongue is available on itch.io for $4, but is also available using Pay by Art - a rather sweet system where you can pay for the game in by sending developer Eric Hornby a piece of fan art! Go get your science on!

ReviewTom Woolford