Guide for Niche: Beginners Tips

Niche – a Genetics Survival Game, recently released on the Nintendo Switch, is a a turn-based strategy game combined with simulation and survival elements. Now, Niche by Stray Fawn Studio isn’t a new game as it’s been on PC since 2016. But for me, it’s a new one and I love it!  (Find my review here) There is a tutorial in the game, but I feel a little extra information on the genetic part of the game is needed. So, time to make a guide to help fellow enthusiasts! This time, some tips and tricks for beginners like myself.

Start Out in Story Mode

Niche has a Story Mode and a Sandbox Mode. In Story Mode Adam and Eve are the start of a thriving tribe, travelling from island to island using flower ports and trying to get back to Adam’s home island. In Sandbox Mode you can choose what difficulty of islands you want to encounter and you start with two random animals. There’s no goal in Sandbox Mode, you can grow your pack and hop islands just whichever way you want. I have found that maybe Sandbox Mode is more exiting in chance encounters and things not going to plan. But for your first run, I would recommend to start with Story Mode, so you can follow the Tutorial.

Story mode with Adam

In Story Mode you start out with you see little Nicheling pup Adam being stolen from the nest by a bird of prey. Luckily for him the bird drops him on an uninhabited island, a fall that Adam survives. While he recuperates, he finds Eve, a little female. Adam’s genes are always the same, Eve is randomised, making every game you play differ from the next, as she bring her genes into the mix.

Finding Adam’s Home Island

As the Tutorial mentions, your goal is to find Adam’s Home Island, which is a difficult thing to achieve. I’ve done several attempts but I just can’t survive for long enough. Nice then that should your Tribe fade away, you can choose to keep the islands you reached and keep the genes you unlocked in your Tribe.

You can keep your unlocked genes and biomes

I’ve read online that knowing where to go makes all the difference. It seems that if you have to always take the North port on an island, and if there is no north or up port you go right. But to inhabit the island successfully, you need to retain the Home Island Immunity (indicated by a Star in the genes). This can only come from Adam’s genes, so be sure while you are breeding to retain that particular gene in your tribe, as you can’t get it back otherwise.

By the way: you travel to a new island by going to the Flower Port and touching the travel stone. Remember: all animals in the port accompany you. Nichelings that are still further out on the island stay there forever!

Adam with Home Island Immunity

The Life Bar

At first in Story Mode you learn how to move both Adam and Eve and how each animal has a number of tiles (moves) each day. Each animal has green gems in their chest, they represent action points and each action taken depletes one point. Newborns are very limited in moves and what action they can achieve. But growing up, the real effectiveness of the animals actions is based on the stats of each creature.

Nichelings progress through four life stages: infant, child, teen, and adult. Although there is no elder stage, adults will die of old age after a total of 25 days. The lifespan of a creature is determined by how full their life bar is. The white is the creature’s age and the red is the damage they have taken, by the time the white bar is full, or reaches the red bar the Nicheling dies.

Age Action Points Duration

  • Baby 0-1 day
  • Child 1-2 days
  • Teen 2-3 days
  • Adult 3-19 day

The red bar comes into play when the Nicheling is injured or has a sickness. That can be due to injury from a predator, picking poison berries of coming into contact with thorns etc. The most annoying ailment I have found though is from a condition called the Cold. A Nicheling can catch a cold that shortens its life span with one day per turn. A cold can be the result of the biome you’re in (and that one can be cured), but animals who have the same immunity gene twice (the immunity genes are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and Home Island Immunity) can even be born with the Cold (which can’t be cured). Effectively if they have a genetic caused Cold it shortens their life span by half.

LadiesGamers review Niche
The Family in the Flower Port

Not only that, but the Cold is highly contagious and spreads throughout your pack causing next newborns to have the Cold too. On one run a pup I bred was born with a cold, affecting its mom immediately. I had a choice to make: lead the rest of the family away to safety by distancing themselves? Or just take my chances and let the cold run its course? I must confess I did the first….leading the others to the Flower Port and leaving her and her mother behind….tough decisions have to be made!

Fortunately, it is possible to heal damage by attacks or ailment (not of the genetic kind) by consuming certain plants, like the Healing Plant or the Water Healing Plant, but they are not often found.

Mutations and Genes

Every animal has a cameo at the bottom left corner of your screen, showing the Skills (think Speed, Collecting, Scratching etc.) and what Traits it has (like how well it can hear, how fertile it is, if it can breathe under water). The Genes of the animals are shown, the dominant ones along with the recessive ones. You can see the Family Tree which also allows you to get a better view on the animal from front to back. And important: you can give the animal Mutations.

The DNA Bar

If you choose a Mutation for your animal there’s a 50% chance that its offspring will inherit it. At the start of the game a lot of Mutations are locked, the more valuable ones which you will unlock during gameplay by doing certain actions several time. If you want to know more about the genetics, I’ve combined a Guide for that here.


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