Thrive – Review Guide

Thrive – Review Guide 1 -
Thrive – Review Guide 1 -

My review was over 900 characters too long for the Steam Review System, so this is where my review will link to.


Thrive is a realistic cellular evolution simulator, that plans to become a full evolution simulator (single celled organisms to sprawling galactic empires), originally inspired by the game Spore, it’s spun off to become its own thing and its a wonderful game. I’ve been following the game for quite a few years now and I’ve been able to see the game develop over time. The game is open-source, which means anyone can view the code and contribute. The steam version of Thrive exists if you want to support the game and gain access to the steam workshop and other things, but you can play a free version, practically identical to the steam version, from – [] , and also read about the game and speak in the Thrive forums.
But anyway, I’ve noticed a lot of the reviews for other developing games like this talk more about its potential than its actual current content, so for the rest of this review, I’m going to review the game as if this is the final product (although it certainly is not).

Section 1

The game starts off with you playing as the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) on a distant alien world. You are provided with a simple and short tutorial on how to play the game. The gameplay is simple at first, where the player will collect Glucose from compound clouds in the world to convert into ATP. If you run out of ATP, or you cannot convert enough compounds into ATP fast enough to sustain yourself, you will die. Ammonia and Phosphate must also be collected from compound clouds, if you collect enough for each (the required amount scales for the complexity of your cell), you will be able to enter the editor, where you can view the auto-evo results (that we will talk about later), move to a adjacent “patch”, different areas with different environmental variables (amount of light, oxygen, C02, ect.) and compounds, some patches being rich with certain compounds (for example, the Ice Shelf is rich in Iron), while other patches may not have that compound present at all, and edit your species. Every visit to the editor represents 100 million years of evolution, and the amount of glucose clouds in the players current patch is reduced to 80% its previous amount to encourage the player to move to new patches and find alternative ways to get glucose.
Every time you visit the editor, you will be given 100 Mutation Points, or MP, that you can use to place new parts on your cell (such as proteins), or delete/move existing parts. All of these parts have different processes/functions they can perform. For example, Metabolosomes can convert Glucose to ATP at a higher rate and efficiency than Cytoplasm, the one existing part on your cell when you begin a new game, Rusticyanin can convert Iron to ATP, Chemosynthesizing Proteins can convert Hydrogen Sulfide into Glucose, and Flagellum and boost your speed in the desired direction at the cost of a large amount of ATP while active. The processes performed by these parts are affected by environmental factors, such as the amount of light in the patch they live in. Making sure you can generate enough ATP to survive, and collect the compounds to turn into ATP is vital. Many things can drain your ATP, such as osmoregulation, a constant drain of ATP that every single part will increase the cost of, movement, a drain of ATP only active while your cell is moving, and other factors, such as producing OxyToxyNT, a biological weapon created by some parts. One of the biggest factors in the game is evolving a Nucleus, a part that will greatly increase osmoregulation cost, but will allow you to add complex organelles to your cell, which are vastly more efficient than the parts you had access to before you evolved a nucleus. Evolving a nucleus as a high risk, high reward situation. You will also gain access to organelles with completely new functions, such as the Binding Agent, that allows you to form temporary cell colonies with members of your own species.
You can also edit the Membrane and Behaviour of your own species. Editing the Membrane allows you to choose different types of membrane, that all come with their own strengths and weaknesses. It takes 50 Mutation Points to change the membrane of your species. You can also edit the fluidity/rigidity of the membrane. Being more rigid increases your maximum health while decreasing your movement speed, and vice-versa. You can also edit the colour of your species, which has no effect on gameplay. Editing the Behaviour of your species will allow you to change different attributes about the AI players of your species, such as how risk-taking they are, how likely to run away from battles they are, and how much they move about.

Section 2

Auto-Evo. Automatic Evolution, or “Auto-Evo”, happens every time you enter the editor, and is one of the most interesting aspects of the game. As this game is about evolution, you will not be the only species trying to become the dominant one of this planet. Other species will evolve alongside you, branching off from those that came before them, including the players species. This makes for a unique ecosystem every time you play the game. Finding ways to protect yourself from other emerging species is vital for victory. There are four ways to protect yourself from these other species.
1 – Evasion. Simply being faster than your competitors allows you to easily survive their attacks. If they have access to projectile attacks, out-speeding them even more, or using a different survival strategy can work.
2. Engulfing. Being larger than an enemy cell allows you to engulf them (if you have a membrane type that allows engulfing), killing them and providing you with a lot of compounds. This can be countered if they out-speed you, are simply bigger than you, or are weaponized.
3. Using a Predatory Pilus. Using a Predatory Pilus (or a spike in Layman’s terms) allows you to stab your enemies, dealing some damage. If enough damage is dealt, they will die and you can engulf their remains to collect compounds. This can be countered if the enemy out-speeds you or has OxyToxyNT, and can be risky if the enemy has a Predatory Pilus of their own.
4. OxyToxyNT. The games only toxin and projectile weapon. It can be produced at the cost of ATP, and stored up in your cell. It does a small amount of damage, but if used correctly, can be very powerful. Like with the Predatory Pilus, if you kill an enemy you can engulf their remains for compounds. This can be countered if the enemy vastly out-speeds you, can engulf/stab you, or has a lot of health.
Population. Population is a stat that AI species and the player both has that determines how many of that species exist in a patch or globally. If the player/AI dies, Population is decreased, and if the player reproduces/AI survives, population will increase. Player/AI population will also be increased/decreased if the auto-evo system sees them as “fit” to survive with the other species or not. If population reaches zero, the species go extinct. If this is the players species, they will lose the game. If the player has a population of above 300 after 20 generations (visits to the editors), they will win the game.

Section 3

Finally, we have Photosynthesis. One of the most important processes in the game, it allows you to gain a sustainable source of Glucose after only trace amounts exist in any patch, it encourages the player to move from patch-to-patch, gradually reaching the surface, where your photosynthesising organelles/proteins can work at maximum capacity, creating vast amounts of Glucose. If you have enough of them, and parts that can turn that glucose into enough ATP, you can become entirely self-sufficient, not needing to collect any glucose from external sources. You could also become an apex predator, feeding on species that use photosynthesis but not needing to use it yourself, or relying on a different compound in your patch, such as Hydrogen Sulfide, to turn into glucose.
Pros and Cons of Thrive –
Wonderfully primordial music that fits the atmosphere of the game very well.
Scientific accuracy, unlike another evolution game we all know.
Many different ways to play and strategies to use.
Auto-Evo provides a different ecosystem every time you play.
Interesting challenges to overcome are present in every game.
Auto-Evo can sometimes produce very weak species.
Binding agents currently have little to no practical use.
Minor bugs, such as visual and audio bugs are present.
Lag and long loading times are present in the late-game.
Most enviromental factors in patches are the same in every patch or are completely unused by any process.


Anyway, I would highly recommend you check out Thrive and, even if the game stopped getting updates tomorrow, it would still be a great game.

Extra Section

This section contains all of the features and things that were added after this review was written and I think are worth talking about –

Written by dan54

I hope you enjoy the Guide we share about Thrive – Review Guide; if you think we forget to add or we should add more information, please let us know via commenting below! See you soon!

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