Niche is a turn-based strategy game that also incorporates features from simulation and roguelike games. The game is focused on genetics survival as the player must shape their own species of animal, surviving against threats such as predators, climate change, and disease. Games like Niche do not permit save scumming. The game’s one aim is to survive, once your species is extinct, you lose the game and you must start again from scratch.
The game is inspired by others like Spore, Don’t Starve, Warrior Cats, and The Creatures Series. It has an educational aspect to it as it introduces players to the scientific mechanics of genetics such as inheritance and dominant/recessive genes. It also includes a realistic system based on the five pillars of genetics (genetic drift, mutation, genetic flow, sexual and natural selection). This is incorporated throughout in the game.
As well as basing itself on real genetics, Niche features a procedural system to generate worlds and animals in four distinct biomes, each with their own unique prey, predators, and plants, to explore.
The game has colorful, cartoony graphics that still run easily on most machines. The tutorial is short, encouraging players to learn the game through playing and experimentation.
The wide selection of options let players customize their species of animals to fit both environmental factors as well as their own personal desires. Players can create a peaceful species of scavengers or have a roving pack that prey on anything that crosses their path. The game appears simple of the surface as your creatures hunt, mate, scavenge, and move, but many hidden factors are at play such as disease, genetic catastrophes, and more.
Niche is fun to play but takes time to master. The real-life genetic mechanics make the game a tricky one but offer excellent replay value.