Tidal Tribe is a “play God” simulator that really nails a relaxing, yet motivating tone. It is a game of experimentation, and can put you into that zen-like state of flow much like Animal Crossing can. At the same time, the mechanics can take a bit of getting used to, though there are reading materials included, and the tutorial does walk you through the ropes. The game demands a certain amount of patience and knowledge of both terrain elevation and water flow. The game has a relatively steep learning curve for a game in its genre, despite the non-cluttered user interface or extremely time-sensitive goals. For the right player who can wrestle with the mechanics, they are rewarded with a sense of pride and wisdom.
Tidal Tribe is a game about managing villagers on a nearly deserted island. Waves crash against the sparsely huddled islanders, requiring the use of walls to protect them. At the same time, islanders need a source of food to gather, and really appreciate their vegetation. As the player, you are tasked with guiding the water to help nurture the lands, provide resources to its people, and make everyone happy.
A target score for each level means you need to figure out what your people want, the types of vegetation to foster, manipulate shadows and light for certain conditions to apply, and protect your villagers. Using hills to create patches of shadows will help grow plants that require less sunlight, while flatlands are another condition to consider depending on each level, and it can be a lot to take in. You are given tools that are similar to different brushes in editing software that help you control how much of the terrain you are manipulating so, while the player has everything needed to progress, it still can be a bit overwhelming. I hope that readers will allow themselves to make mistakes and slowly uncover some of the complexities hidden in plain sight. Basic tips include learning how to spawn lakes properly, creating a snaking path to the back of your island and back to the sea, and using your manuals to double-check conditions.
The game offers a few game modes as well. There’s a story mode that chronicles the adventures of a set of younger friends within the village and their interactions as the island develops. The story branches out to many other facets of the slowly-thriving village and is surprisingly heartfelt. There’s a challenge mode similar to most tycoon games that will help test your mastery of the game can help keep things fresh. Finally, there’s a freeplay mode that allows you to freely test out strange configurations of your village, or different forms of vegetation.
Tidal Tribe is a niche game that I think can reach out to many players, provided that they can take things slowly and take in the soothing atmosphere. I do think that watching a few videos before assuming the game isn’t for you is a big recommendation for this title in particular. I wish the developer the best of luck in the future, and commend him for fully realizing a rather abstract idea. Definitely one of those games that may be one you never thought you wanted.
Tidal Tribe was developed by PowPit.
Available for $14.99 (PC)
A Steam copy was provided by the developer.
Hellfirebam has awarded Tidal The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.