Indie developer Wessel Stoop planted a simulated seed which rooted itself and grew into the early access release of The Sapling. In this short simulation game players design their own low-poly plants and animals and then see what happens when they are released into the world.
Players start off by learning to design a successful plant species either on an island or mountain environment scenario. Each has their own challenges, but both with the same goal of creating a species that survives a full century before hitting the year 1000.
In the plant designer, a clean and easy to use UI lets players see how much energy their design plant consumes, how much energy they make, and how much is needed for fruits. Additional information is available such as leaf wind resistance, water depth requirements for roots, soil softness, and where their energy sources are coming in from such as stem, leaves, or roots.
When ready, the system takes the player to the environment where they can plant their plants. From there they can ready again and watch the plants thrive or barely hang on depending upon the design and environment conditions. Of the two environments, the mountainous area presents the hardest of the two scenarios. Players will need to find a design that meets the harsh conditions of the highest mountain peak that can also survive for at least a century.
Once plant design is mastered, players can move onto more challenges with animal designs. The designer is similar to that of plants and animals have their own set of challenges. Animals also have an instinct system where players can specify what an animal does when they see or hear something. A procedural animation system allows any animal to perform any animation.
At any point a player can add a new species by either mutating an existing one or creating one from scratch. However to use certain components, such as leaf type, in design a living species with the previous required component must be present. In other words, extinction can set one back.
A final scenario is based off a disaster happening when a meteor strikes. If one desires to jump in and just play around Sandbox mode is available.
In the build-up to The Sapling early access launch, information about the game and its design was covered in a series of developer blog posts on the game’s website. Included in the dev blog was a post about the main theme of The Sapling which provided sheet music and a link to the theme on SoundCloud.
The Sapling is now available as an early access release on Steam priced at $7.99 USD. The game is also available on Itch.io for Windows and Linux at a suggested price of $7.00 USD, and on Gamejolt and Kartridge. All of the latest information about The Sapling can be found at the game’s website thesaplinggame.com or follow @thesaplinggame on Twitter.
Wessel Stoop is an indie game developer based in Nijmegen, a city located in The Netherlands. He had always wanted to play a simulation game where players could build their own plants and animals since 2002. The Sapling is the result of his desire.