Topia isn’t a game. It’s a blank page, an untouched canvas, a lump of clay that you can mold to your liking. Topia makes you a god-like presence and puts you in charge of shaping a small planet. You decide where the mountains go. You carve out the continents and the oceans. You even populate it with wildlife. But there aren’t any goals or challenges, so there’s no way to win. The developer says those things are coming in the future, but for now, Topia a toy.
But that’s okay, because once you start using the tools at your disposal, you won’t miss the game aspects, at least for quite a while. In Topia, you can start with a featureless globe or a pre-made one (we liked starting from scratch). You then have carte blanche to shape the geography to your liking. You can raise the ground to form mountains, lower the ground to make lakes and oceans, or spread the land out to make beaches and plains. That doesn’t sound like a lot to work with, but you might be surprised by how varied the planets can become.
It’s a small world after all.
You also have six different kinds of animals to populate your planet. The animals are fictional species like pinos, tikes, tapis, and wykos, and they all have unique behaviors. Some are predators that attack prey species if you put them near each other. Others, depending on the environment you place them in, might dash right into the ocean in a cult-like mass suicide. It’s an interesting set of fauna, although we would have liked to see more interaction between the species.
The landscapes you create can be downright gorgeous, with purple mountains, verdant plains, flowing water, and deep valleys. The music is a rhythmic, Zen-inducing tropical tune, and the controls are a cinch. Everything is under your control, and it can be great fun to see what worlds you can create.
If you build it, the animals will come.
As fun as it is to make your own worlds, there’s no way around it: there’s not much going on in Topia at the moment. The only modes available are Tutorial and Sandbox. The tutorial does a good job of explaining how to use the tools, and Sandbox lets you go wild, but that’s not a game. The developers promise to add challenges and goals in an update, but for now, a sandbox is all you get.
And that’s fine for now. We spent a lot of time shaping planets and seeing which animal species interact when you put them near each other. But once you’ve had your fill of that, you’ll have seen all there is to see in Topia. The game has loads of potential, and we’re very interested to see where the developers take it from here.