by Alan Bradley
As we mentioned during our 5 Games to Play During the Summer Lull, we’re in a bit of a quiet window right now in terms of new releases. During downswings like this, we like to dig back into the back catalogue, or investigate new games that might have slipped through the cracks during the busier stretches of the calendar. Enter Reus, a delightful 2D god game that would've been the sixth entry on our list had that feature been written today.
Reus, like all good god games, starts with a world that is a broad, blank palette. Upon starting a new game, the player is confronted with a featureless round world with a glowing volcanic core, and a handful of giant creatures tied to different elements, which serve as the player’s agency in the world. From these humble beginnings, you begin to evoke all the complexities of life: oceans, fruit, simple animals, small villages.
From Humble Beginnings...
At first the game demands very little of you. Satisfy certain fairly simple requirements, measured in resources like food and science, and your villagers will complete great projects. With each project completed, the player is rewarded with an ambassador, who will leap atop a selected creature, granting it additional abilities.
The most interesting aspect of Reus is the way that its game sessions are structured. At first, players only have access to thirty minute games, which don’t allow a lot of time for advanced construction or evolution. However, each session contributes to unlocking new resources, and once a certain threshold of requirements is met, longer sessions are unlocked.
The shorter sessions remain fairly simple, with easy to manage requirements for advancement and a fairly limited set of tools with which to construct your world. However, as longer sessions become available and more and more content is unlocked, the game transforms into a busy sim that demands strategic planning and long-term thinking. As a village’s range of influence becomes a limiting factor and rising requirements make progress increasing difficult, symbiosis and careful use of your creature’s abilities become of paramount importance.
Symbiosis happens when complimentary resources are situated near one another. For instance, if you plant blueberries near a strawberry bush, the blueberries will produce more food. Combining strategic placement of resources with your creatures’ abilities to transmute plants and animals is a key to success in longer sessions where space on your world is as a premium, and contending with your villagers’ greed becomes a priority.
Light, Color, Magic
The art style of Reus is what first attracted us, and even now when we play we find ourselves enchanted by the thick lines and colorful palette. A huge part of the appeal of the game for us was watching how the look of villages and their inhabitants, and the crust of the planet itself, was shaped by our intervention and the evolution of new technologies.
Enchanting is an excellent description of Reus as a whole. The gameplay, sound design, and art all weave together and contribute to a pleasant atmosphere that all but the most jaded grognard will find themselves helplessly charmed by. For ten dollars, we can think of few better ways to pass a few hours of our time.