Godus: The Pursuit of Power (A Review-In-Progress, Part 2)

Playing God isn't easy, but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun.

He was walking towards a clearing in the middle of the island, determined to build a new shelter for himself and his young family. He had to climb up a ledge to get there, but it wasn’t anything he hadn’t done before.

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Moments before scaling the ledge and reaching what would become his new home, out of nowhere an unknown force knocked him backwards, and the ledge he had just been climbing vanished. He sat at the bottom of the ledge, which was now a few hundred feet from where it once was, wondering what the heck just happened. Puzzled, he got up, scratched his head, and headed back to town, probably to share his unbelievable story with anyone who would listen.

This is Godus, and this is fun.

If you ever played Peter Molyneaux’s other titles like Populous or even Black & White,Godus will feel strangely familiar, which is good, since the game in its present form doesn’t give you much direction. This is my main knock on a game that is still in beta, but available as a Steam Early Release now.

Strangely Satisfying

The fun of a game like this is using your imagination and seeing just how far it can take you. Godus isn’t set up with any clear boundaries or rules you must adhere to. You are dropped into a world where you get to play God, and mess with your followers as little or as much as you want to. You have the power to keep them alive or let them die, grow your village or destroy it, and do as much terraforming as you see fit.

There was a point where the game was finally starting to make sense to me and I decided I should see what kind of havoc I could cause. I used a tool that compels all followers to run to a single location, presumably so you can feed them (or whatever it is you do to keep them alive, it’s not really explained), but instead of feeding them I destroyed the land all around them, sending them into the depths of the water below. Eventually they all drowned, and I got a weird, strange, satisfaction from this. I don’t think I was truly happy that I killed some of my followers, I was just happy I was actually allowed to do it.

There’s a bit of a Minecraft feel involved in building your environment. There aren’t the beloved square blocks, but there are layers to the world that you must stick to. On the surface it seems pretty limiting, but there’s really quite a bit you can do with this system.

One thing I haven’t figured out is how to add more environmental details like trees. Harvesting trees and rock formations garners Belief, which is basically your in-game currency used to perform the game’s “God Powers,” but by doing so, I make the environment completely bare except for the buildings my followers have constructed.

Every so often a little pink orb appears above your citizen’s homes, and if you click it, you will gain more Belief from that as well. I’m not quite sure why this is, but it’s one of those things that will likely be better explained in the finished version. I’m sure there are a few things I am missing, but I will continue to explore and get to the bottom of it.

Still A Work In Progress

The game states on its opening splash screen that this beta consists of probably only 40% of what will be available at launch, but even so, what I HAVE been able to play has been pretty fun. Sending my followers running around to build abodes, trapping them on teeny tiny little islands, and other manipulative stuff like this has been addictive and fun, and I can’t wait to see what the campaign and multiplayer modes are all about.

I am frustrated at the lack of explanation so far, but if Molyneaux’s other games are any kind of guide, this is by design. He very much likes to build worlds that give players the freedom to explore and interact as they wish, and this game seems to be shaping up to be just that.

I would encourage you to check it out as a Steam Early Release title, as I’m pretty sure it will be soaking up hours upon hours of my life over the coming months.

I’ll have more of this review-in-progress next week, and every Tuesday until I feel ready to give a final verdict. I hope you’ll join me!

Review-in-Progress Week 1

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Brian Armstrong
Proud gamer parent and freelance journalist (and fundraiser). I cover anything and everything that's interesting about the gaming industry, and even some stuff that isn't so interesting.