I've spent the tail end of my vacation working through the games assigned to me for judging for the upcoming Independent Game Festival. The games run the gambit from amazing to pedestrian. One of my favourites among the batch of entries was Pocketwatch Games' Venture Arctic.
In Venture Arctic you control an arctic ecosystem as you try and meet goals liking increasing the population of the Timber Wolves or unlocking a particular animal. The game progresses through four seasons. Each season has special actions, such as making it snow, warming up an area, making animals mate. Each action can be performed at any time of the year, but if you perform it during it's season, it doesn't cost you anything.
Perform it out of season and you have to spend spirits, which you accrue from the animals that have died in the arctic. The whole thing has a very give-and-take feel to it. If you make too many rabbits they'll eat up all of your berries and your caribou will starve to death, but not enough and the timber wolves will start hunting the caribou because they're aren't enough rabbits around.
On top of that heating up and cooling down the land has a direct impact on how the animals and plants survive and thrive. It's all a very delicate balancing act. The whole game is played from a sort of Sim City, slanted top-down perspective and features over-sized, but well animated animals. It's certainly not high-def graphics, but I felt myself getting attached to the animals and their off-spring as I worked to try and, say, bring my caribou population up to 15.
With 22 different animals, all with realistic behavior, the game has a lot to teach you, but the thing is, you don't feel like you're learning things, instead you feel like you're having fun and that's where this game best succeeds, it makes learning about a very important and often forgotten part of the world entertaining.