July 5, 2014 11:30 PM | Lena LeRay
Imagine Earth is the first game from the two-person German development studio Serious Brothers. It started as a student project and has won or been nominated for over half a dozen awards since 2008 in areas such as simulation and serious games. In it, the player takes on the role of a colony manager at a large, interplanetary corporation. The player's job is to meet the growth and production goals the company has set for the current planet, but to do so they'll have to balance expansion with sustainability.
There are only a few resources the player can manage directly: money, power, food, and goods for consumption. The player gets an assortment of buildings that generate these things, with the more advanced buildings doing so with less impact on the environment. Less doesn't mean none, though, and as the colony grows and needs more resources just to stay afloat, the player really has to be careful about the decisions they make. Failing to do so wrecks the planet's ecosystem, leading to things like tornadoes, toxic spills, and a rising sea level that will wreck any buildings on the coasts.
This balancing act is what makes the game interesting. There are only a few systems for the player to manage, but keeping growth and ecology in balance is no easy task. As the demands of the corporation and the sizes of the planets increase, players will have a lot of tough choices to make about how and when to build what. It's easy to see why the game has won awards as a serious game, with the player's actions having direct effects on the ecosystem which in turn make life harder for the player, but the awards its won for the quality of the simulation are just as deserved.
It isn't completely free of bugs, but for the most part Imagine Earth is already solid. Serious Brothers has a timeline publicly available on the game's Steam page outlining what will be added to the game when, with more planets to be added over the next several months and a final bug-crushing beta projected to start near the end of the year. They anticipate a full release in February 2015.