First Impression Review: Equilinox

This is probably not a “first impression” piece, since I’ve been playing Equilinox for 30+ hours by now. But I still think it deserves more attention than just a few screenshots here. Equilinox has been developed by ThinMatrix, a single indie developer.

“Equilinox is a relaxing nature simulation game which allows you to create and nurture your own living ecosystems.” – Official website

I really like these “evolution” city-builder/simulation games, if I may call them like that. Games that let you put animals, plants and/or trees into the world while you’re watching the game world evolve. What I usually don’t like too much is when these games have puzzle mechanics. When I say puzzle mechanics, I mean that, for example, sheep like trees and need fruit and grasses to eat. Warthogs can live in the same biome, but while they need large rocks, they dislike grass. So if you want both of them together, you need to make sure not to place grass on the floor while still fulfilling all the other needs they have! So this is exactly what you’re doing in Equilinox. And yet, Equilinox does it so well that I don’t mind it one bit… okay, maybe a little bit sometimes. But the game would be too boring otherwise!

Don’t get me wrong: It is a casual and relaxing game, so it is not difficult to play at all. In fact, you can leave it open for a few hours, return, and your world will still be there. Maybe an animal will have died or a plant. But you can always just put a new one into the world.

Let’s start at the beginning:  You get the choice between the game’s normal mode, the creative mode which has everything unlocked and available from the beginning, and simulation mode which lets you put in as many plants, trees and animals as you like provided you unlocked them in normal mode already. Normal mode is what you’d probably usually play. When you load a new game there for the first time, you have an empty world in front of you. You get tasks that work as a guide. The first one asks you to place grass tuft which spreads the grassland biome. This is also the only thing unlocked at first. Finishing a task sometimes unlocks new things to place in your world or gives you dp, the game’s currency. Everything you place costs dp. So you can’t just go crazy and place 1000 rabbits. On the other hand, almost everything does spread at the rate rabbits usually do, so it’s not necessary to place more than one most of the time (no, don’t ask me how procreation works with just one rabbit in the world!).

What I found most annoying is that some plants are self-spreading and I already had grass in my woodland biome, for example. Since grass spreads the grassland biome, this actually meant that the area didn’t reach a high enough percentage for woodland plants and animals to feel comfortable. You can delete (even mass delete) specific plants, but it was still annoying having to do that several times until it finally stopped spreading there – and I should add that it was not the game’s fault I placed grass in my woodland in the first place. Most of the time, these self-spreading plants are what you want and need, because with these, the biome will stay your desired biome type (e. g., grassland biome). Sometimes, animals get sick when the environment isn’t good enough for them. Or they die because they can’t find any food. So you definitely need to pay attention to their habitat.

Also, if you place a plant or an animal somewhere, they don’t spread all over the complete map. They will just procreate or spread in a certain radius. This is also important for carnivores, because you will have to place them somewhere close to their desired food. The first time I placed an eagle, it actually died of hunger despite being closeish to guinea pigs. Maybe it was just a dumb or lazy eagle, but I had to save my dp then to afford another one.

The graphics style is certainly unique. When I first saw the screenshots, the way the animals looked (and the way they move – definitely check out the video!) was a bit off-putting. By now, I really like the graphics and think they’re quite charming. The soundtrack is relaxing and fits very well to the game as it stays in the background, if that’s an appropriate description. It doesn’t distract you or take away the attention from the game itself, but instead accompanies the game.

I sometimes feel as if I’m losing track of the game or I forget what I was trying to evolve. You know, the usual: You want animal A. You need to start by having animal B in biome C (where you didn’t originally put it), evolve it in a different colour, then add a specific kind of stone which you haven’t unlocked yet. So, go to biome D where you grow plant E and evolve it into plant F in order to finish a task that will give you… did I lose you already? Yeah, that’s what happens. But it mostly happens when you want something specific immediately! If you just evolve whatever comes up via tasks, it’s not that complicated. Or, you concentrate on one thing at a time and don’t try to evolve plants in your tropical water biome as well as animals in your woodland biome and a tree in grassland… Still, I want these meerkats!

The game actually gives you several lists and very helpful tooltips, so you’re not completely lost. I just easily lose track of where I wanted to go and unless I stay focused, I get lost.

I bought the game on sale for 6.37 €. Its regular price is 8.50 € ($9.99 / £7.50). The game is only available on Steam. I wish it was also on GoG, but I’m using Steam, so I’m not complaining! I just think it’d be a nice fit for that platform as well. After playing it for 30+ hours and still enjoying myself, I would say the game’s definitely worth more than its asking price. So if you asked me whether you should buy it – well, I’d say it’s up to you! But I don’t regret my purchase at all and I wouldn’t regret it either if I had bought it at full price.