I, like many of you, have yearned for another age in which the ‘god game’ genre makes a heroic return showering us with a plethora of games like Populous and Black & White. Alas, while Reus doesn’t quite live up to such legendary titles it certainly isn’t a game that should be overlooked by fans looking to get their fix of god games before Peter Molyneux’s latest project, Godus, is released.
The game sees you, supposedly playing as a planet, where you take control of four “giants” that can create different biomes and use their unique abilities to place things such as plants and mineral mines on patches of land to help bring a village to that area. You can even use two different abilities on the same patch to give increased stats which could lead to that area “transmuting” into a different type of farm or mine. Once this is achieved you complete a series of challenges, known as developments, set by the village, usually met by meeting a set of criteria revolving around the amount of resources that village has, to increase the size a village can cover and in turn allow it grow and prosper. While this seems like a fairly simple prospect it can turn out to be a fairly complex one when you have 4 villages operating at once, trying to maintain a peaceful balance and stopping villagers getting greedy before they wage war on each other can often prove to be a difficult task.
However all of this rich, detailed gameplay comes at a price, and that price is one of the most tedious tutorials you will ever have to endure. While most games attempt to keep the hand-holding to a minimum, Reus will have you spend around an hour and a half completing a series of prosaic instructions over 3 eras, or missions to you and me, reading text that will have you leaning into your screen and waiting while minerals stack up. The latter may be one of the most annoying parts of Reus’ tutorial because all you can do is sit and wait as a series of numbers rise before you can continue, luckily this doesn’t usually happen in a normal or “era” game. Perhaps the most frustrating part of this though, is that you finish the tutorial with a sense of still only knowing the basic mechanics of the game.
Reus features a two different types of game modes, including the aforementioned era game. The main method of playing the game is found in these era games, you begin with only a 30 minute session unlocked and you have to complete a series of developments to unlock both the 60 minute and 120 minute offerings. I found that the 30 minute mode was a great option if your a little pressed for time and want to play something in a short burst, whereas the 120 minute mode will make you think about the long term future of your planet and villages a little more. The other game mode that the folks down at Abbey Games has included is freeplay which allows you to start the game like any other but you aren’t given a set of challenges to complete and there is no time limit. During my play through I found that I was using the freeplay mode more as a testing ground to see what I could do with different biomes before potentially ruining over an hours work in the era game, due to the frustrating lack of an undo feature.
Another disappointing part of Reus is how cramped the game makes you feel, the tiny planet size remains the same throughout every game mode, and while this may force you to think about things a lot more at first, it soon becomes very limiting in what you can achieve. While the small map sizes may not bother you during the 30 minute era mode, it certainly becomes more of a burden when playing for a longer period of time.
The way Reus presents itself really adds to it’s charm with the cartoon like giants and villagers, the game gives off a deceptively simple and happy tone, whereas, at times, this is simply not the case. Abilities are shown in an MMO style hotbar at the bottom of your screen, although they are not assigned to the number keys by default which actually swap Giants instead, with other UI elements dotted around as you would expect. As previously mentioned Reus can be deceitfully detailed yet the look and sound of the game would try and convince you otherwise. Speaking of which the music and sound in the game works well for the simplistic tone it’s trying to portray, the way the giants sound when using an ability on a patch of land is very nice, although it’s not something that will necessarily stop you listening to your own music while playing.
Interestingly Reus feels a little like Minecraft in the sense that while the tutorial teaches you the bare basics, you are then left to fend and experiment for yourself. There are tips that will pop up whilst you are playing, however I disabled these at the early possible time due to my frustration with the tutorial. Perhaps the most telling thing lies within the pause menu for the game which, at the very bottom, has a button that links you straight to the Wiki page for the game.
All in all Reus is a real love it or hate it type of game, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed my time with, after I got past the irksome tutorial. It’s a far from perfect game but one that will keep you entertained for hours on end providing your a fan of the genre.
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 5/10
Visuals – 9/10
Sound – 7/10
Lasting Appeal – 9/10
Overall – 7.5/10
(Not an average)
Reus was reviewed on PC via a code provided by Abbey Games.