I am usually quite aware while playing these types of games that I indeed have a god complex. Not the kind where you need constant attention lavished on upon you but the kind where you like to fuss over every little minute detail. A place where I can create wonderful things and watch my actions and the consequences unfold, or destroy with abandon. Reus lets me do this and so much more in an absolutely gorgeous world with a beautiful vision, wonderful characters, and rich gameplay.
You are basically the essence of the earth awaking from slumber who sees a desolate world you want to change. The game is focused on a 2D map of the world, it is round rather than flat like the usual 2D style(which is a nice touch) but very easy to navigate. You can zoom out to see the whole map and then in to a single area. You can also scroll the world and watch everything roll by. To aid you 4 gods are created that you are able to control who specialize on Terra-forming a certain aspect of the world.
There are different planes to this 2d view which gives the world a kind of depth and greater detail. It has a really quite lush look to the scenery, the gods each walk on their plane and even when towns are developing they utilise the space differently. All actions though will be focused on this one view type and affect the entire tile. This may sound simple for a god game but it makes it feel more inviting and hides the complexity of the mechanics.
There are 5 main terrain types to work with: ocean, forest, swamp, desert and mountains. Oceans and mountains are kind of the foundations, oceans provide surrounding land with water that can then built into forests or swamps, and mountains cause deserts to form on the side away from water.
Now to populate the world you have the ability to create 2 different types of plants, animals, and minerals. The interesting part though is that what resource type spawns depends on the terrain type, a basic plant may result in a bush of berries in the forest but a cactus type plant in the desert. It’s a nice touch in a way as it not only adds a little depth but makes the world feel more real.
But wait there’s more.
Each of these resources will also have a certain type of symbiosis with other resources, and if it is nearby you will get special bonuses to what it produces. Then if you feel like it you may also upgrade these particular resources which evolve into a new species based on the original plant and the skill used to evolve them, they usually become more specialised and better producers by doing it but the evolution can also change what they produce and what their symbiosis will be. This creates a very active sense of play as you are constantly calculating benefits, upgrading items and then adapting the terrain to match.
The gods you have control over are the ones who do much of the work with planting and upgrading, each having their own specialisation as well as skills to upgrade resources with. There are a decent number of skills that can change they way resource types act and produce immensely. Skills to make better herd animals, or maybe to change that same animal into a dangerous predator. Also even when upgrading depending on the terrain once again may determine which upgrade skill is needed; the mineral deposits change a lot in this regard.
It is a complex network of resources types and their upgrade paths that make the game challenging in a way but also rewarding when you get it right. In the beginnings much of it isn’t really required but as you progress into the longer eras these become a necessity. I feel I need to get home and make a neat little notepad page with all this information just so I have it close at hand. With the way the ui is designed, and the ease of information gathering these aren’t hard concepts but at first it is a lot to memorise.
Now it isn’t just about populating a world for the sake of it. What you will find is that nomads will set up towns where they want and then use these resources to grow their villages. The three types of resources they use are food, technology, and wealth and depending on the town, and what was there when it settled is usually what it will need to grow further. In terms of control over these towns and the people it is really quite limited. You can’t give them orders or dictate how and where they grow, this all depends on how you develop the world around them.
They have a sense of free will in a way. They use things how they want and if they are well provided for the town will grow but quite a bit of your micromanagement will revolve around them and molding this growth. It isn’t too random as they will always try and specialise based on the terrain and available resources and usually adapt to any changes made. At certain stages of growth they will enact projects that require a certain amount of the 3 resource types to be used, complete this and they gift you an ambassador that may grant your gods specific, or more powerful skills to upgrade resources further.
There is a balancing act in growth though, provide too much and too quickly and the town can quickly become very greedy and feel the need to invade its neighbours, stop developing the area and they may even get aggressive towards you. You can of course punish them, or destroy the entire town if that happens but usually you’d rather not. This can be mitigated rather easily by just spacing out you improvements better between the town’s, or by using other methods such as creating danger within their city space with the use of dangerous predators, or creating a certain symbiosis between resource types that creates awe.
This all seems like a lot to remember and evaluate at first but the game has a remarkable sort of extended tutorial that eases you into the game and gradually introduces new, and more complex mechanics. After the tutorial you progress through the game by completing certain achievements. Some will be easy, some hard, and some may require you to specialise certain cities. These achievements are there to encourage the use of certain resources and really gain a thorough grasp of the mechanics.
The achievements are all placed within a certain category called an age, the beginning age’s having rather easy tasks and the later complex. As you complete certain achievements you also begin to unlock new animal, plant, and mineral upgrade types to aid you at completing the harder achievements. Then, once you complete all the achievements in the age you then unlock the next game mode, it usually gives a longer amount of play time which in turn allows you more time to upgrade the world and grow bigger more advanced towns.
The locking of the game modes behind the achievements of an age may seem limiting but it’s a way easing people into the mechanics rather than just overloading. You can still complete achievements from an above age without having unlocked it so it isn’t too restricting, it is more just limiting people within the achievable. I have never felt stressed playing but after each game I feel like I’m progressing further in the game. It’s a gradual growth of skills and power that makes keep striving forward and creating greater and more complex world’s.
Reus is on sale for 10% off at many of the big online retailers until the 24th and I would thoroughly recommend picking it up. It’s cheap, it has some interesting gameplay, aaaand it’s oh so cute.