Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Reus (Steam PC)

The forest village need more wealth to finish the granary, the swamp village need more tech to improve that Druid hut and the desert tribe need more food, wealth and tech to expand.  This is your typical game of Reus a Dutch developed god sim and puzzle game.

In Reus you play as the planet itself, awakening from a deep slumber and realising that life needs a little hand from you to advance and improve.  To do this you have four giants at your command, each with a specific set of skills and powers.  The stone giant can create mountains and deserts, the water giant creates the oceans, the swamp giant makes well swamps and the forest giant the same.  Their skill sets expand further though as the water giant also creates domestic animals, the stone makes minerals while the forest and swamp giants make plants and more exotic animals.
Stone giant makes deserts and mountains, also he looks cool
The world is broken down into a finite number of tiles which allow a single resource to planted so to speak.  Every resource produces either food, tech or wealth.  Each is required by the villagers which will settle the land you cultivate for them.  Resources can improve though through symbiosis which activates under certain conditions.  For example chicken will produce extra food if next to a blueberry bush, so planting them next to each other will grant extra food.  This is where the puzzle element comes in as a you may need to start chaining bonuses together for a larger resource income.

Villages never die out due to a lack of food or wealth, instead they require it for projects.  Each village type has a few they work on as they improve.  Forest villages may create a granary for instance and to complete the project they need a specific number of resources.  The trick is in how you place the resources around the village.  Being the game is played on a 2D plain you need to maximise the space used.  Villages will only collect resources within it's borders so planning ahead can mean huge boosts as the village grows and it's borders extend.

Resources can be further improved through the use of aspects which can allow it to change into another type of plant, animal or mineral.  It's odd as a concept but it's required to unlock bigger resource numbers.  Higher grade resources can bring in multiple types of resource at once meaning you can alter surrounding tiles for other tasks.  Aspects can only be unlocked by completing projects for the villagers and each type of village rewards different aspects in the form of ambassadors.  Ambassadors ride on your giants head or shoulders and grant these extra powers.  At later stages of the game you will need at least three villages to unlock all of the abilities for your giants.

Having multiple villages though does run the risk of war, either with your giants or against other villages.  Greed becomes a resource you must manage in each village.  You can increase the level of danger outside the village by upgrading certain animals into predators which will keep your villagers more worried about them instead of making war.  Another way is to produce more resources which generate Awe.  The more of this there is the more your villagers will revere your giants and not make war.  Of course if you want to watch your villages battle it out for dominance you can as there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  Anything that attacks your giants will not last long, especially if they attack the stone giant which can create massive earthquakes.
Villages get pretty large and detailed late game
Unlocking more content requires you to play the game in era's mode which starts out with 30 minute eras.  After completing a number of objectives you unlock the 60 minute era and finally the 120 minute era.  Completing the objectives unlocks more resource types in the three categories.  It's also important to note that resources change depending on what terrain they are placed in.  Planting a domestic animal tile in the desert creates rats, swamps create frogs and forest creates chickens.  Each produces food, but their symbiosis is different depending on the terrain they are placed within.  If you don't want to work toward any particular goal you can also play a sandbox mode with infinite time, but I would recommend playing this when you unlock more items as you will have more choice.

I would have liked the option to pick the size of my world so I could have larger landmasses to work with and also to pick the sites of villages for better use of resources, but these could still be added at a later date.

Graphically Reus is very pretty for a 2D game.  The game has a childs cartoon aesthetic with bright colours and simple artwork but it works very well in conveying what is happening on screen.  The giants are very expressive and well drawn, while the multitude of plants and animals are all very easy to identify.  Humans are also very diverse as they hunt for food, gather materials or mine your minerals, the villages become more and more busy as time passes.  Villages become more advanced as well, adding new buildings and more modern structures as they advance.  Eventually you will have a very vibrant and interesting little world to look at.
You wouldn't like stone giant when he's angry
The sound is equally at home with the cartoon aesthetic, with simple little tunes that remind me of children's cartoons of my youth.  Outside of the music the majority of the games sound is made up of simple yet effective sounds.  Each giant has a voice of sorts made of sounds specific to their element.  Villages have the bustling sounds of every day life when you zoom down to them.

Overall Reus is a great little god/puzzle title that gives you plenty of replayability.  It's structured well enough that the mechanics are simple to learn but gives you room to experiment with your resources.  It could use at least 1 more terrain type to vary your game a little but overall it is a very solid little game that is worth the asking price.

SCORE: 8/10


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