One thing is absolutely obvious when starting Tidal Tribe – it is a massive venture for a single person. There are no AAA, crack graphics squads putting together life-like worlds. Rather, the developer is a programmer, artist, writer, and everything else under the sun to get this game off of the ground. Although truly impressive in scope, the downside is that visuals (and some other facets of the game) do suffer. On the other hand, the game is very lightweight and runs like a dream. The music is very good and very soothing, so even if the graphics seem like a blast from the past, it’s not difficult to get lost in the sound. This is our Tidal Tribe review.
The game is split between the overworld, which is a two-dimensional map with specific destinations and paths, whereas the god game portion is a fully 3-d world. The 2-d artwork is ok, reminiscent of older flash games. Some mini-games share this art style, so expect to see it if you play the story campaigns.
That leads me to what is probably Tidal Tribe’s greatest asset – its calm and peaceful nature. We often live life at a breakneck pace and it’s sometimes nice to take some time to relax. Tidal Tribe generally promotes a nearly Zen state where you simply try to remain aware of what’s happening to your people in-game. Not all of the game modes or mini-games do this, but you’ll likely spend the lion’s share of your time in this game moving earth around, so expect a healthy dose of peace while you play.
The powers that you have are rather limited. As mentioned, you can move earth, which you’ll do to open pathways for water, which encourages plant growth, which your people need to survive and thrive. A detailed in-game wiki provides help as needed, so you know what conditions each of the plentitudes of plants require to grow. A detailed, customizable map also helps you track your people and plants as you encourage population growth and advancement. Upgrades in missions help your people to collect more fruit, build faster, not kill themselves out of despair, among many other boosts.
The story campaign has five levels spread across an island that also features mini-games such as the Tidal Tribe’s ‘parkour’ levels (i.e., speed runs through waypoints on a map). Mini-games can provide experience, which you can use to empower your avatar, thus increasing flight, running, or swimming speed.
The campaign’s story is another reminder that this is a one-man show. That is, Tidal Tribe’s writing dances back and forth across the line between ‘indie’ and ‘amateur.’ That may be harsh, but I feel that a development team may have been able to better manage the story, the length of each story segment, and the quality of writing.
I really like the depth that the game offers. Learning how the plants interact and how to make them grow was fun for me. I also enjoyed flying overhead and shifting the land’s ecosystem just by building or removing walls of sand. The parkour levels were ok, but I felt they were less fun and more training for fine-tuned movement. Relatedly, I preferred to use a controller for all of these activities and generally found the game optimized for controller use.
A final word about bugs – they do exist, and I hope that the developer is able to address them. None were necessarily game killing, but things like being able to see the name of the earthmoving tool you’ll use in a free game, just like you do in a story game, would be nice. Aside from those few bugs, though, the game is surprisingly well polished.
COMPARE TO: Black and White, Populous, Godus
A code was provided for the purpose of review.