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by Sriram profile

Episode 01 of Lead

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(based on 2 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

You are the president of a recently independent planet. One question is running through your mind now. How to turn an unsafe, fragile planet in a declining economic climate with politically motivated neighbours to a safe and happy place for citizens to live?

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Give your planet a new reputation , December 13, 2022

You are President Gusto and have been granted leadership over Terrota, a recently independent world and your home planet. So far, it has a flimsy platform for racial relations, economy, and reputation among other planets. But with your guidance it may finally have a chance to make a name for itself.

Gameplay involves making decisions as issues present themselves. How to build your army, which neighboring planet to trust, how you punish rioters. It is also linear. Issues are always presented in the same order, but all decisions contribute to the outcome of your leadership. Your choices matter.

Again, a tough decision to make. You ponder over this a lot. You consult with your ministers. Then you make a call....

Biturn - The relatively neutral big neighbour
Pytal - The far away ally
Ramdael - The military super power

Top objectives are to build Terrota’s economic structure and to create peace among the population, but preventing war, or at least building an army strong enough to win one, is also important. Usually, you will reach an ending that reaches one or two of these goals, but it takes some trial and error to reach to reach an optimal one. Terrota is meant to be played more than once.

There are no deep, achingly tragic moral choices in this game, but there is a strong sense of responsibility as you make decisions that heavily impact the people on your planet.

This announcement obviously does not go well with Mischins. They cannot digest the fact that they lost their jobs overnight.

They take up to the streets vandalizing and destroying everything they see.

You experience it from a more detached perspective which gives the game a feel of a management sim. However, it would not really qualify as such, or at least not like other games that share a similar concept. While you need to balance your citizens’ trust, the chances of war, and the strength of your army, this is not a game with fine-tuned variables or stats. If you want resource management, look elsewhere. But if you want something low-key, minimal, and interesting, I encourage you to check out Terrota.

Story takes center stage in decision making, but the overall game feels relatively light on story. It often uses ambiguous titles or entities, such as "Galactic empire." While this cuts down on the worldbuilding, the upside is that it avoids dragging the short gameplay with excess details. There is a nice balance of details and simplicity.

I liked how the start of the game has three news articles that provide some exposition. The Galactic empire decided to grant independence to planets on the outer edge of the galaxy, including Terrota. This was done primarily because these planets were never prominent hotspots for economic growth. Of course, that can change if you make the right choices.

It is an oddly interesting story. Not one that captivates or amazes, but one that makes you want to roll up your sleeves and play for the best outcome. There are multiple endings that summarize your leadership. The best outcome I reached was: (Spoiler - click to show)

Terraota has grown into a peaceful planet, while President Gusto made sure it evolved into a military super power by building its image in the eyes of its neighbours. There were no wars which helped Terraota focus on other areas to become a super power.

In science fiction, or at least in interactive fiction, we often assume a protagonist or supporting characters are human unless said otherwise. There is no mention of the human race in this game. Instead, the population of Terrota consists of Badula, Mischin, and Badula races. No humans here! (I think.) Besides that, and the protagonist’s title, there is little attention to individual characters or characteristics beyond anonymous roles.

Visuals take a basic but directed approach. The entire screen is an artist's rendition of an exoplanet against a nebulous region of space. Full image backgrounds run the risk of making text difficult to read, but that is not an issue here. It looks cool and fits perfectly with the planetary theme.

Text is white, but choices that influences your leadership are highlighted in red or green. Red is a negative reception, green is positive. Since things are not always polarized, a lighter shade of red is occasionally used to emphasize a mixed result, see below.

Result: You lose some trust with your citizens, while you have also reduced the chances of war with Madrusa.

Even though it is a simple Twine game, the visual design makes it far more polished and professional looking than if it skipped stylization. Experimenting with visuals can go the extra mile. It was certainly the first thing that caught my attention when I started playing.

Final thoughts
Terrota is fun sci-fi leadership gem in a clever Twine format. For sci-fi fans, I think it has an appeal for a fairly wide range of tastes. A bit of everything. If the phrase “interplanetary politics” catches your interest, give this game a try. It is also the perfect length for a lunch break game. I enjoyed it.

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