Published on July 22nd, 2013 | by Renate Solberg0
Summary: Fresh and engaging take on the god simulation game genre, with well executed graphics and gameplay.
Reus by Abbey Games is one of my more spontaneous purchases from the Steam Summer Getaway Sale this year, and one that I am not disappointed by.
In Reus, you are the planet, and you are just waking up from a long and deep slumber. To make life once again walk your surface, you spit out giants with different powers to create mountains, oceans, forests, animals and plant life.
When you start out, the giants’ abilities are pretty straight forward: Ocean Giant creates oceans, Rock Giant creates mountains and deserts, Forest Giant creates forests and Swamp Giant creates swamps.
Once your basic environments are created, the giants step it up a notch and create… LIFE! Well, life beyond the basic sea, forest et cetera. It’s like this: For humans to want to settle villages, there has to be something for them to life off of – animals or plants. Once one of those are in place, villages will be settled and will start growing. After a while the villagers will want to start projects, such as building a shrine to celebrate your general awesomeness. Projects need resources, and you have to use your giants to the best of their abilities – and combine their powers to “upgrade” plants, animals and minerals to better versions with higher yields – to complete the projects within their time limit. When you do, however, you’re granted a human ambassador who climbs up on the giant of your choice, unlocking new abilities.
Now after a couple of projects, the villages will most likely be pretty prosperous. And, with human nature being what it usually is, greed follows. When you control a giant, there really is only one logical thing to do about this: KILL ALL HUMANS.
I had one project where the village insisted that for them to complete it, I had to destroy their neighbouring village. How very nice and neighbourly of them. However, my gameplay time was running out so I obliged just to have at least one upgraded project completed. I felt a little bad about it. Rock Giant didn’t, he just looks sad all the time whatever he’s doing (possibly with the exception of when he’s smashing villages, but I think he’s more angry about the fact he has to do it at all). I imagine him having the inner monologue voice of Richmond from the IT Crowd.
There lies a sleeping giant. Let him sleep. For when he wakes he will move the world. – Napoleon
When your gameplay time (30, 60 or 120 minutes, with only 30 being available at first) starts to run out, the giants will get sleepy. When all the giants are asleep, it’s game over, and you get rated on your village’s or villages’ prosperity. This rating earns you achievements/developments, which in turn unlock new tiers of developments, resources and projects to use in the game. You do get a warning of sorts that the giants are getting sleepy and that you have to hurry to make any improvements to your planet, but I feel that this warning is too little too late – you really have to watch the gameplay time meter on the top left to make sure you don’t just miss out on upgrading your rabbits into deer, which could be the thing that pushed your prosperity high enough to earn you a new development. It should also be noted that the giants are huge and lumbering and move fairly slow.
If your time runs out you can choose to continue in freeplay mode, but this will not earn you any new developments. Also I suppose the saying of letting sleeping giants lie comes to mind – maybe best to let those guys rest up a bit.
As much as it is a casual game, you still have to put a fair amount of thought and strategy into placing your environments and resources – in one playthrough I ended up having two villages encroaching on each other, resulting in either village’s inability to grow and make room for more resources to be placed. In this case the problem was “solved” by smashing one of the villages into bits, as the mad scientist demanded it – earning me the “Questionable Ethics” achievement. I still feel bad about it, and I’m sure
Richmond Rock Giant does as well.
All in all, Reus is quite an enjoyable little game. When I first started it I didn’t think much of it besides the fact that it looked pretty, but still I found myself returning to it again and again. It’s fairly easy to get into, although the system of transmutations and symbiosis can be a bit confusing at times and make you forget what you are trying to achieve. As such I have adopted a “let’s click on this and see what happens” attitude so far.
In any case, taken for what it is, Reus is well worth some time and money invested, and is a great casual time waster for those days when all you want to do is build something and then maybe smash it up after a while.
All screenshots in this article are taken in-game by me, but remain the property of Abbey Games.