South African game development studio Free Lives has announced that it will be developing its wasteland reconstruction prototype, Terra Nil, into a fully-fledged commercial game release.

The announcement comes from Free Lives developers Sam Alfred and Jonathan Hau-Yoon via Terra Nil's original llisting on Itch.io.

"We've got some exciting news to share today, Terra Nil is graduating from a hobby project to a full time commercial endeavour. I've spent the last few months working out the details to have the indie studio Free Lives (Broforce, Gorn) take on Terra Nil. And finally, it's all come together," Alfred wrote.

Alfred will serve as design lead and Hau-Yoon will be art lead on Terra Nil. They will be attached to the project full-time and plan to launch the game on Steam "and other platforms". Since it's quite early in the game's development, a release date has not yet been announced.

"The new version is going to be the same game you all know and love, just reimagined with better levels, a better metagame, a bunch of new gameplay features, new content, and a wonderful new painterly art style, inspired by the work of Studio Ghibli," the developers said.

Studio Ghibli is known for animated films such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

"The current pixel art version will continue to remain on Itch, for free, for the foreseeable future."

What is Terra Nil?

Alfred describes Terra Nil as a reverse city builder about ecosystem reconstruction. Part city builder and part puzzle game, the basic premise of Terra Nil is to subvert the traditional city builder genre.

In it, your task is to turn a barren wasteland into an ecological paradise complete with different flora and fauna, then clean up after yourself to leave the environment pristine.

Without giving too much away, the game features South African biomes such as wetlands, arid Karoo-like deserts, fynbos, and forests.

As you rebuild the ravaged ecosystem, animals begin to return to the area. Your ultimate goal is to reconstruct the environment and then remove any trace that you were ever there.

Here is the full announcement from Alfred and Hau-Yoon:

We've got some exciting news to share today, Terra Nil is graduating from a hobby project to a full time commercial endeavour. I've spent the last few months working out the details to have the indie studio Free Lives (broforce, gorn) take on Terra Nil. And finally, it's all come together.

What this means in practice is that myself (as design lead) and elyaradine (as art lead) will now be working full time on a new, paid version of the game that we hope to bring to Steam and other platforms.

The new version is going to be the same game you all know and love, just reimagined with better levels, a better metagame, a bunch of new gameplay features, new content, and a wonderful new painterly art style, inspired by the work of Studio Ghibli.

The current pixel art version will continue to remain on itch, for free, for the foreseeable future.

If you want to keep up with all this exciting news, we'd love for all of you to join the Free Lives discord - we are going to be posting WIP content and ideas, and we'd really love to get your feedback. This is a wonderful opportunity to influence the direction of the game :) if you have ideas of things you'd like to see, or just want to be the first to see new content, join up.

We are both very excited to embark on this next phase of Terra Nil's development and would love to have you all along for the ride, it's going to be fun.