Valleys Between preview - A meditative experience about nature and balance
Taking our time with a GDC hands-on
One of the best things about mobile games is that if you're having a crappy day, you can just whip out your phone and play something to relax yourself for a couple of minutes.
And Valleys Between, the first release from New Zealand-based indie studio Little Lost Fox, is definitely a game for those exact moments.
It was still early days for the game when we saw it at GDC, and we only got a small amount of time to play it, but it's shaping up to be a great way to unwind after a hard day.
Build me up
Valleys Between tasks you with growing trees and carving out rivers in order to build small settlements, unlock more land to build on, and keep the balance of nature.
You're given an endless hexagonal grid to play with and can swipe up on each tile to plant a tree, or down to dig up some water.
Connect a few water spots and you can get a lake or a river flowing, while trees can be clumped together to form forests on a single space.
You can't just do what you like, however. Grow too many trees and you throw nature out of balance, so you need to counteract this by adding a small pond or two as you go.
Keep the balance
To make matters more complicated, some parts of the land are corrupted, and making changes to the landscape near these tiles will spread the corruption further and hinder your progress.
At the moment, cleaning this up isn't a huge deal – you can just dig a river, get it corrupted, then fill it in again to clear the whole thing – but the team is still tweaking how various parts of the game work.
Indeed, at the moment there isn't really much of a "game". You can grow your forests and rivers, eventually creating small towns if you group enough trees, and the world opens up in front of you as you go.
But there's nothing particularly wrong with that, because as a small, meditative experience, it's beautiful. Even in its early days, Valleys Between looks absolutely lovely, and you'll be immediately taken in by its sprawling world and simple presentation.
Peace at last
It's a game which encourages you to take your time and not worry too much about your actions, and it looks like it'll be perfect for a short burst of relaxation when you need it.
Little Lost Fox is currently targeting a mid-2018 launch, and it's going to be a premium experience, so there'll be no pesky free-to-play trappings getting in the way of your experience.
We'll just have to sit tight until then, but rest assured, we are very excited to get our hands on the final version of Valleys Between and fully immerse ourselves in the quiet calm of its world.