What is Reus?
Reus is a god mode game made by Abbey Games. Players take on the role of a sleeping, barren, lifeless world that wakes up one day to find itself devoid of life and decides to go about fixing this problem, essentially making the planet a god. Along the way humanity decides to pop up out of thin air with all of is virtues and vices, and it is the player's job to take care of themselves as a planet as well as keeping their people happy, and preferably alive.
This is Abbey Games' first title since Tinytanic which was made in about 72 hours for the Ludum Dare Jam. Since I've probably spent a bit too much time playing Reus for my own good already, lets get on with the review!
Gods. Titans. Mortals. Oh my!
So how exactly does one go about playing god in this world? Do you simply clap your hands together, speak the magic words and watch things happen? Not quite! Being a strategy game, Reus has to give players something to command, and since humanity doesn't come around until the planet starts gaining life back, what could the player command? Giants of course!
Giants are the source of all the player's powers in Reus - whether they're creating oceans and mountains or spawning all manner of resources for humans, these giants take care of it all. They follow the player's every command without question, even if it means smiting a village for no apparent reason other than trying to get the "Chosen People" achievement.
But what about the humans? What do they do in all of this? Well you can't exactly control them, so nothing in that regard. From the second they come into existence they are more or less begging their god for assistance in completing special projects such as putting up buildings. They also need saving from other villages that got a little too much attention and got greedy - that's right, as a god you can actually help too much. Being overly nurturing makes villagers greedy, which makes them raise an army to throw at their neighboring villages. But it's not only the villages that are in danger. If they get too grabby or there are no villages for them to go after they will also demand more from their gods. I haven't seen a village get to this point just yet so I have no idea whether they start attacking the giants or not, but the introduction video at the start of the game suggests that this can happen!
Humans aren't all bad though, are they? No, not really. Every time you help a village to complete a project, or they happen to gain enough resources to do it themselves while you aren't looking, that particular village will offer up an ambassador to you. These ambassadors are different for each of the three types of villages, and your giants will take one of each. Each of the ambassadors unlocks different giant powers, which help further increase what they can do to help develop the world, to the point where they can even assist the humans in growing their villages. Just try not to help the villages too much too quickly unless you want to see them go at each other for your own amusement!
So is there anything bad about Reus gameplay? Well I haven't found an option to rain fire and brimstone down upon my world just yet but that's just nit picking. If anything I only found it mildly annoying that the only way to unlock further developments for villages or collect all the different resources giants can spawn in the world is to play through the time limited era game mode. This mode starts at 30 minutes in, and by completing different challenges you can eventually unlock 60 and even 120 minute long sessions for era game mode. For players who have all the unlocks or simply don't care about getting them right away, there's always infinite mode! Here, things will just chug along until players feel like stopping, at least until they pick things up later on.
Everything looks and sounds beautiful when you're omnipotent.
I found myself enjoying the simple and adorably cartoony art style of Reus. Everything from the largest giants to the smallest humans and animals running around the world looks great. Early on in the game it's easy to get distracted by watching the planet change as your giants spread life to all four corners of the world. As the living things on your planet multiply it does get a bit more difficult to enjoy the beauty of the world as you're busy managing all the different villages that have popped up, but you are playing god. If things get too out of hand you can always sit back, relax, and watch what happens when the humans of your world are left alone to take care of themselves.
The sound track was also pretty good for mellowing out to while playing the game, but there wasn't too much variety in the music. The only real change in the music seemed to occur when one village decided to burn down another for their own selfish reasons.
Playing god is actually pretty fun!
As I said earlier, I probably spent more time on Reus than I probably should have in order to review it! While it doesn't look very complicated on the surface, it has a surprising amount of depth to it, the way you build your world and how you support the human settlements that spring up around it really make a difference. Actually if it hadn't been for the requirement to play through era mode to unlock upgrades I would probably have carried on playing until I was too tired to keep going or wanted to do something different. It's really easy to lose track of time playing Reus.
Reus is definitely worth the buy for anyone into playing god games and building up civilizations, althogh the 'smiting' options are fairly limited. Maybe in the future, if expansions or DLC come to Reus we'll get more giants to play with, new ways to manipulate the world and new ways to affect the humans living on it.