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Build your own ecosystem in this new Dorfromantik inspired puzzle game

Preserve sees you encourage natural symbiosis in a chill, relaxed puzzle game that asks you to layer nature up until it all works together.

Build your own ecosystem in this new Dorfromantik inspired puzzle game: At dusk we look at a game map from Preserve, with trees and various biomes sitting on hex-based tiles.

The benefit of gaming is that it is broad. There are those who think of gaming as being limited to crude bleeps and bloops or endless waves of carnage, and there’s absolutely time for both of these things. What gaming can be, however, is almost anything. It’s an extremely broad church which is how you get games like Preserve, an upcoming puzzle game that’s all about building a thriving ecosystem in a beautiful hex-based world.

Last week at WASD Live we got the chance to see Preserve and check out how its nature based puzzle game is put together. There’s no antagonist here, no threat, no violence at all, instead this is a chill game all about building up layers of nature, encouraging the natural world to grow into one larger environment. The way it works is you have a selection of cards to draw from which determine with animals and plants you place down on each hex.

By ensuring the world stays in balance, you can encourage symbiosis between fauna and flora, building a reflection of the kind of natural world you want to encourage. You layer nature vertically while the hex-based map expands out at various points, letting you venture into different biomes or animal types.

A screenshot from Preserve showing a map being filled out with creatures and plants, with a row of cards along the bottom of the screen.

By looking at screenshots of Preserve you might think that it appears similar to some other games in the relaxing vibes genre, and you’d be right. “Dorfromantik was our main inspiration,” developer Bitmap Galaxy explains to us on the WASD Live floor. “But one thing we missed was animals and trees, moving the rivers, and stuff like this.”

One of the key aspects the developer wanted to ensure Preserve contained was being approachable. The game itself is largely non-verbal, with most of the game’s language being displayed using small drawings or symbols, to break through language barriers and allow a greater spectrum of people to play, especially the young.

There’s a soft strategy at play with Preserve, it doesn’t aim to be a brutally difficult game but there is a degree of challenge interwoven throughout, with this challenge being directed by the kind of environment the player wants to build. “We came up with this upcycle system,” the developer tells us. “If, for example, you have 12 cards of the same card, you can change it for a special card. So if you have a lot of forest cards, you can change them for a sequoia forests, so you can place this natural wonder on your map.” Only by playing carefully and laying your cards correctly will you be able to put down these pinnacle creations. Even in this calm game, you’ll have to watch how you play to see some of the best natural features.

In addition, the developer intends to include three separate game modes in Preserve; standard where you expand the game map and work to change and grow your environment, puzzle where you work to limited space with limited cards, placing them optimally to hit a points threshold, and creative with no restrictions to create dioramas or beautiful landscapes.

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Preserve is coming to PC in quarter 3 of 2024 and you can head over to Steam to add it to your wishlist now. You can also check out the free demo on the same page.

If you’re looking for more stress-free times in front of your computer, our guide to the best relaxing games you can play will see you filled with bliss. Should you want more smaller developers in your life, our best indie games guide should sort you out in the right direction.

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Additional reporting by Nat Smith at WASD for PCGamesN.