By definition Reus is a god game, but what starts off as a heavenly experience slowly but surely transforms into a battle of faith.

Now that all the god puns are out of the way, Abbey Games’ Reus is complicated to explain. It’s a 2D sandbox mixed with shavings of Civilization and Black and White. While not necessarily bad, the formula always feels like there’s a right way to optimize productivity and you’re always on the verge of figuring it out.

In Reus you take on the role of an inhabitable planet, and through the power of four elemental guardians — swamp, ocean, forest and rock — you transform the landscape making it vibrant and alive. It’s a unique take on the whole “god” ideal. Instead of some divine power, you’re a planet yearning to live. When the inhabitants prosper, you prosper. It’s truly a simple and brilliant concept.

reus screen

 

Through the powers of the guardians, the player can amass great oceans or dry deserts. These guardians also provide the basic necessities needed for a civilization to thrive. Creating food, wealth and technology will push humanity to the next pillar of success or drown them in greed. The game primarily takes place in eras, roughly 30-120 minute long. While a free-roam does exist, it’s more of an end-game accessory as no progress can be made in ways of unlocking new abilities and upgrades. It’s the biggest shadow casted over Reus. As a player you want to feel connected to this world… like every decision you make has a purpose, and just as you start building that connection the game ends and you must start anew.

 

Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil. In order to create a vast world, you need to fill it with the animals, plants and minerals that will provide the best results, which is done by manipulating Reus’ basic resources through symbiosis and transmutation. For example, maybe you want to fill a forest with cute lovable bunnies. But let’s say you want to buff up the bunnies… super bunnies if you will. Through the mystical art of transmutation you can turn those bunnies into… a deer. Imagine for a second the practical use of transmutation in everyday life. Boring old ramen for dinner? BAM! Four course lobster and steak dinner.

The only way to unlock the deer transmutation spell and others like it is by completing challenges. Those of which can only be completed once an era ends, and since free-roam goes on forever, you can never truly progress.

reus screen 2
Thankfully Reus is perfect for the puzzle solving micromanager in all of us. The symbiosis aspect gives a player more incentive to plant your recourse with some actual thought. Depending what you put next to your mine, could wield more positive effects than others. To provide the incentive to optimize your resources is the individual villages. Projects will be established, like building a school or a workshop, which will require a certain amount of recourse for completion. However, as more and more villages pop up across the world, less room is available for established villages to expand. In short, upgrading is essential as fewer tiles become available to deposit resources.

And let’s not forget the key to any god game: war. Yes, not all villages are the same. As greed takes over, some villages will, for no real reason at all, start a war with a neighbouring settlement. I mean, like these guys will manifest weapons, boats and hoes – scale mountains and cross oceans all in the name of violence. During the tutorial it’s actually recommended that you smite these violent villages in-order to keep the peace. I found using the Rock guardian to be the most effective… you know, laying the smackdown upon their candy asses and the smelling of what I’m cooking. I only once allowed a war to take place out of curiosity. The results of which saw the warring nation defeated, by one that had neither a tactical or technological advantage. Somehow running in circles while your city is burning to the ground is a legitimate strategy.

Wrap Up

Alas, Abbey Games attempted a new take on the god game style and should be commended, but creativity can only get you so far. Reus is fun when you’re looking to fiddle around for half an hour, but it lacks the connection to keep a player invested for a long period of time. I’m sure once every unlock is available Reus can capitalize on its free-roam mode, but until then it will be nothing more than a time waster.

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About The Author

Editor

Adam has been in the journalism business for over five years. When he isn’t gracing Canada with his face on television as a reporter, he’s writing about one of his passions for Indie Haven. His love of video games stems back to Adam’s childhood, where he beat Super Mario World at the age of 5. #ProGamer. You can follow his Canadian exploits on Twitter @ehis4adam

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