Feel nature at your fingertips in this gorgeous educational game!
Toca Boca does it again! For this launch, they bring us a type of “God simulator” wherein we model nature, watch it grow, and examine the wildlife that spawns in its wake.
When booting the game, you may already be reminded of Sim City’s terrain editor. In this instance, though, you won’t be pouring concrete on top. Rather, you will allow nature to run its course.
I’ve always been down with environmental themes, regardless of the way these have been used in the realm of politics (which, of course, I’m not going to get into). With that said, while it doesn’t beat the idea of touching actual grass, Toca Nature helps bring awareness to kids about the importance of establishing a bond with their natural surroundings, especially in these times.
Jumping into the game itself, the visuals here are astoundingly fresh, meanwhile keeping with the design philosophy of a kids’ videogame. You get stylized pixels and a very fluid and intuitive 3D world that’s literally your virtual playground.
The music and sound effects are also beautifully well-crafted and immersive. There’s not a single point during my playthrough in which I felt that the soundtrack overstayed its welcome. It’s atmospheric but manages to cling to your conscience without succumbing.
The UI is likewise extremely polished and easy to navigate through. It doesn’t require much text to understand what each tool is for since the icons are fairly explicit.
I also love how well the game manages its spatial relations and polished the animations are in general. I’m aware of how difficult it is to animate non-humanoid character models and, particularly, four-legged mammals, which is why I’m even more impressed by how Toca managed to pull this off, especially considering how we still see major developers getting these animations wrong (Conan Exiles and ARK: Survival Evolved come to mind!)
What’s more, this is a game that both adults and children alike can enjoy. However, I recommend that you try playing this with a stylus device. Swiping the stylus across the screen as you create truly enhances the experience in my opinion. Makes you almost feel like a painter!
On an unrelated note, you might notice that there is no death in this game. I’m ok with that. While Toca Nature is supposed to be educational, it doesn’t have to teach about all aspects of animal life. It’s just a lighthearted and fun medium to inspect how fauna generally behaves without delving into the more depressing and gruesome aspects such as animal life cycles and predator-prey relations.
Ok, so that’s only partially true. You can still feed fish to bears and similar creatures, implying, of course, that they can die. What’s more, you can catch them in the ponds you create, which is the most daunting head-scratcher!
These are the inconsistencies that, while not ruining the gaming experience, make me wonder why fishes and bugs always seem to get the worst treatment not only in games but in media and life in general. I reckon fishes are used as scapegoats because they can’t squeal nor bleed, so they’re “off the hook” (got that pun machine running again!) But it’s still a bit arbitrary, isn’t it? Don’t the fish suffer as much - if not more - than warm-blooded animals?
I apologize. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole… back to the review!
Now, we get to the ugliest part of the review: Monetization. Don’t worry, though. It’s not as ugly this time around.
Toca here decided to follow a more traditional strategy. Instead of luring users into buying additional content, they decided to put a price tag upfront. Want to play? Time to pay!
I don’t know about you but, as for me, I won’t complain! Could it be cheaper? Definitely. However, I don’t find the $4 tag to be unreasonable at all, especially considering that you get all the “toys” with your one-time purchase and don’t have to endure further paywalls (in-app purchases or DLCs) to enjoy the game to its fullest.
Even if the game’s far from perfect, it’s on the list of kids’ games that you should try out. It’s not overly expensive and it’s ideal for spending quality time with your little ones.
Have you played Toca Nature yet? Let me know in the comments section down below!
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