It's Time to Play God with Crest's New Ancestor Worship Update
Back in July, I was given the opportunity to preview Crest -- a game based around god or as it is officially known as, a religious simulator. Crest is currently being developed and published by Eat Create Sleep. In Crest, you take on the role of a God who must lead their followers and help them thrive and survive by giving them commandments to follow.
While I enjoyed the game and loved the ideas, creativity and uniqueness of it, I found it hard to understand how to play properly, due to an uninformative tutorial and sign posting.
With the latest update, my initial problems have been fixed, along with an array of new features, fixes and improvements to enhance the experience. It is time to take a second look and once again play God.
You don't command your followers but rather guide them
Now that I understand how the game works, it has given me a much greater chance to realize exactly how the game is designed and most importantly, how your followers are designed. Just like people in real life, the followers are not minions for you to order around but instead have a mind of their own.
They are not always going to listen to what you say to them and will go about doing what they want to or feel they need to. It is due to this mechanic that I had such difficulty in my initial play-through of the game. I was attempting to give them orders to achieve success as oppose to simply guiding them.
Crest has a very strategic element to its gameplay that isn't apparent to begin with. When giving commandments to your followers, you must think about what they need and want right away but also in future. It is a game about thinking ahead, hence guiding followers as oppose to commanding them.
You need to be careful as to what commandments you write, as the more that are active, the more confused the followers will become resulting in progress being ever slower -- if there is even any at all. It is a case of attempting to figure out their AI programming and then manipulating it.
It is quite a clever design, even if it is rather hidden and resulting in you having to look further into the game's design than actually taking everything for granted based on what you first see. It is a unique mechanic that is fun to experiment with to see what works and what doesn't.
The only drawback of this is the fact that this form of gameplay is not necessarily for everyone. If you don't mind experimenting and figuring at least some things out for yourself, then you may enjoy what Crest has in store for you. If a more clear and straightforward gameplay is more to your liking, you won't find it here.
Indeed the developer could easily explain everything to the very last detail but I feel that doing this would result in the game losing what makes it the genius that it is. If you know exactly how to control the followers, you are losing out on the game's major gameplay mechanic of figuring out how to successfully guide your followers.
From a small village to a thriving civilization
At the beginning of the game, you have nothing more than a small village with a few followers. From here you must guide them from being nothing more than practically cavemen right up to a full grown civilization. As previously said, you do this by writing commandments for your followers to use as direction.
Your commandments don't direct single followers but instead registers to groups, depending on where they are situated. For example, the savannah, the desert or the jungle. When writing a commandment you must choose what groups you are referring to, what action they are to use and what they are to use it on.
An example of this would be Jungle + Produce + Food. This would make all followers situated in the jungle produce food. Things do become a lot more complex as more cities begin to become established -- especially when writing commandments and choosing who to refer it to as your choices will affect numerous cities.
At first, there are only a handful of words available to you but as you progress more unlock, resulting in varying commandments. This is a new change that works well to help players come to grips with the system. Previously it gave you almost all the words resulting in a head exploding number of possibilities from the get go.
Through your commandments, you will have to fulfill the needs of each city if they are to survive. Their needs include resources, food, offspring and so on. If you fail to keep up with a cities needs, it begins to fail and will eventually fall. If a city is at risk in any way, the calendar will warn you and give you a chance to fix the problem before it happens.
The gameplay to Crest is very deep, even more so than you would ever think from judging it through screenshots. It is complex and unique. It may not be to everyone's tastes but if you are open minded to trying game mechanics that are different and require some time and experimentation, you may just enjoy it.
Gain advice from the dead
A new feature introduced with the Ancestor Worship update is the ability to enter the Underworld. Here you will find a recap of all the historical achievements your followers have achieved and when they did it. You will also find ancestors in the Underworld who will give you advice when it comes to guiding your followers.
This new feature is a very useful tool that I feel the game really needed as attempting to keep on top of things on your own not only felt like a bit of chore but it was also very difficult. The addition of seeing how you have progressed throughout your play-through and everything you have achieved is a nice touch -- especially since you also receive advice while your at it.
Making good progress
Crest is still below the half way point of its development but it is showing great promise. With it now being easier than ever to learn to the play the game, along with gaining advice, it is a far more enjoyable game overall. It should also be mentioned that a number of improvements were also made to the games UI which has made the playing experience much more enjoyable.
Just as I stated in my previous preview of the game, Crest has a wonderful art style and a beautifully fitting soundtrack. Although there is definitely still room for improvement and more content, Crest is working well and is now easier to come to grips with.
Crest isn't a game for everyone. It requires looking beyond what it may at first seem to understand what the developers are attempting to achieve with this title. It certainly doesn't hold your hand either, resulting in the need to experiment and figure at least some things out for yourself.
If playing God in a more indirect manner where you have to figure out how to guide your followers to success and survival, sounds like a game for you, then Crest is worth picking up. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what future additions the developer has in store for this title.