Review: Niche

Review: Niche

Almost exactly 4 years ago, Stray Fawn Studio released their genetic survival game, Niche, on Steam. The game was very well received on PC so after a couple of years, the developers decided that it was finally time to explore a new area by bringing it to Nintendo Switch. In the game you can make your own species of animal which has to fight against extinction by procreating, and expanding the tribe to overcome all sorts of adventures such as predators or diseases. So let’s get into detail and see if this game is a go or a no.

What we liked!

  • Breeding: In my opinion, the best and most fun aspect of the game is breeding for the right genetics. Where are first, you start with a male and a female, you progress throughout the game meeting other wild animals which can join your tribe, each having their own genetics. One may be a good harvester for food while another can swim underwater. Essentially, it all depends on what way you want to go with the tribe and which animals should mate in order to get your perfect animal. Once you are more familiar with how everything works, you can even select genes that you specifically want to pass on to your new junior. Okay it isn’t certain that they will get it, but there is an increased chance for it. I really enjoyed this experimenting!
  • Graphics & Sound: Niche uses a very special type of graphics and style. The map that you play on is designed in hexagon tiles which form an island. On the tiles, you can encounter different environments ranging from tall grass, berry bushes and nests to predators or other animals that can join your tribe. The animals that you play with are a mix-up of real animals like cats, dog and rabbits but it’s basically what you see in it, use your imagination, I’d say. And every time you mate and get offspring, the animal will change a bit. The game uses a simple graphical style but still manages to be detailed so you can clearly see what the difference between your animals is. Another thing that’s nice, and accompanies the great art style, is the music and sound effects that are used in-game. There is a calm and relaxing tune playing in the background, and when you move your character around or preform actions you can hear various little sound-effects. It isn’t much, but it’s a nice addition to the game.
  • Biomes: While playing the game you will encounter a different selection of biomes. Each of them has its own environments and predators that you will encounter. So your animal will literally have to evolve in order to successfully live there. When you decide to move to another area, you will have to make sure that you have the right genetics in order to survive and don’t get extinct. Currently there are 5 different biomes that you can explore.

Somewhere between

  • Tutorial: Niche has a good and clear tutorial to set you up with the basics of the game. So now I will hear you all think ‘why did you put it in the somewhere between section then’. Well, the game only teaches you the basics. It would be handy to also get some advice or some more in-dept information on the different genetics that there are and what they do. Of course, it’s nice to discover what they are by yourself, but sometimes it takes too long to find out what they are exactly good for and then your animal is already at the end of its lifecycle.

What we disliked

  • Text: While playing in handheld mode on the Switch, the thing that bothered me the most was the very tiny text, for example during the tutorial. There is too much text crammed in one small text box. They easily could’ve spread it a little bit more because this was giving me a good headache while playing the game. Luckily there isn’t a lot of text in the game, but still, these are things that should’ve been taken into consideration when moving the game to the Switch.