New Terra is the first game to hit Nintendo Switch from indie developers WINTERYEAR Studios. It is an Action-Strategy game which promises daring rescues, space-hauling, and thrilling combat. With scarce fuel, tight controls, and 18 unique worlds to traverse this is a feast for the eyes and ears. Check the trailer out below.
The atmosphere started building immediately upon opening the game. Menacing radio chatter blended with exquisite music by Ron Wasserman, I was curious. Using Y to select in menus seemed a strange decision but was only a personal gripe. I quickly found a second problem: It wasn’t possible to pause the training mission without restarting from scratch. I noticed that selecting ‘continue’ actually pushed me back to loading and the mission brief instead.
Having completed the tutorial though, I settled in for what seemed to be a mostly well-crafted and detailed experience.
Controls in New Terra were spot-on. The Left stick controlled trajectory, while ZR and ZL controlled Acceleration and Reverse-thrust respectively. The Y button fired the cannon while offensive/defensive abilities were on A.
The gameplay was simple at heart, with each level initially showing a basic map of objectives and pickups. Missions had some great variety including activating generators, rescuing scientists, or ‘borrowing’ a nuke and turning it on its creators. The level design also varied quite strongly. Some levels had technological structures like those on earth’s moon, while others had volcanoes, lava pits, and more!
It was obvious that precision would be the key to completing New Terra. Fuel was easy to waste, and the ship seemed very fragile as I bounced off of walls with reckless abandon. Power-ups refilled these gauges but even their order of collection became important. Likewise I found myself questioning whether to use thrust for movement or let gravity do the work for me.
I reached my hundredth mission failure and accepted that this was in no way an easy game. I was pushing through more out of stubbornness than enjoyment. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the quality though or the helpful and slightly comical death messages. Each death brought me closer to completion and knowing that my own error caused these failures helped. The game was very difficult, but always fair.
The general look of New Terra was awesome. The mission/map screens reminded me of earlier computers, while the levels had well built-up environments and a fuller feel. Unfortunately, there were some glaring visual issues too.
The first of these was that the backgrounds, while detailed, seemed to lose details in the blur. This could have been enhanced window areas for example, but when entire buildings were blurred it seemed more like a limitation. There were also frequent visual artefacts when playing New Terra, usually making the game appear to be of much lower quality than it actually was. These issues didn’t ruin my experience and could be resolved in a future patch.
WYNTERYEAR did well to bring Ron Wasserman on board, and even noted on their website that the game has an “Incredible original soundtrack” by the “famed Hollywood composer”. It’s certainly true that Wasserman has a prolific history in the industry, especially with one of my all-time favourite earworms: Go Go Power Rangers. Working with him was a sublime choice, I simply cannot fault the game’s soundtrack: it built an immersive atmosphere, and gave each level its own identity. Great work.
Despite the graphical flaws, New Terra was well crafted and uncomplicated to start playing. Priced at $24.99 at the time of writing it was, in my opinion, overpriced. The soundtrack and finely tuned controls elevated the game as a whole, and it’s definitely a solid title for the right audience.
With 18 original levels and an unlockable ‘pitch-black’ mode, New Terra kept me occupied for several hours. Replayability was a given due to the overall difficulty and this second mode, at least for as long as I was able to avoid rage-quitting. There did come a time where everything seemed to just make sense, and I found the deaths becoming less frequent, and despite the hard level limit, I thought it worthwhile to replay older levels in a bid to increase my scores and find all of the hidden secrets.