This week, for the maiden voyage of Retroid Prime Time, I discuss favourite game past and present and what I think makes the perfect favourite game. Come join me for the start of this new adventure.
Reus Review: The Simply Complex Game
You control giants, you build worlds, and you make humanity thrive in Abbey Game’s new title, Reus. This god game isn’t like others in the genre, there’s hidden complexity in the simple looking 2D world. For only $10 this game isn’t going to be the next game of the year, but its sure to keep you entertained long enough to get your money’s worth, and then some.
The game seems simple enough to begin with. Each square on your little planet is reserved to be one of four biomes which each allow a different kinds of inhabitants or structures to be built on top. Create suitable resources with your giants and a village will spring up which requires different specific resources to grow. Strategically place resources within the village’s boundaries and watch it thrive.
But actually, it’s not that easy. Every resource can be improved in different ways, by “transmutation.” Each resource also has a “symbiosis,” which affects extra bonuses depending on surrounding resources. And honestly, if you want your village to grow at all you have to perfect the right combination of transmutations and symbiosis. Again, it might sound easy, just find the perfect combination and repeat it in each village, but you’re going to have a variety of different biomes, and different villages with different needs. Each one requires a perfect combination of resources.
At first the challenge of perfecting the resources is a lot of fun. But after a couple of hours the fun turns into frustration. Reus doesn’t have any easy way to see future transmutation’s symbiosis. It doesn’t guide the player with a search bar or a tech tree. Instead, you and your slow moving giants will have to learn by time consuming trial and error. Of course, a player could always jump on the wiki, but that’s taking the “fun” out of the whole puzzle like building mechanic. The most fun you’ll have in Reus is also the most frustrating, and it’s up to you to decide if the time consuming frustration is worth the reward of a thriving planet.
Luckily, there are things that will keep you playing Reus longer than other $10 games. First of all, the artwork: awesome and intriguing. The giants each have their own unique identity. The different biome’s villages each have their own look and style. The biomes are simple, repetitive squares of artwork, but they blend well with all of the different structures and inhabitants that will find their way on top. No, these graphics aren’t stellar, but they fit well with each other and give Reus a welcoming and relaxed feel.
Reus’s mechanics and difficulty grow as you grow as a player. The tutorial, which will take at least a half hour, starts simple, with one village type in one biome. But as you grow as a player you learn about new biomes, new towns, new structures, and new giants. Once you complete the tutorial you can’t just jump into the “grand campaign,” you have to unlock the one hour and two hour long games by gaining experience in the half hour match choice. Why? Because honestly a new player wouldn’t be ready for that long of a match, keeping the world’s inhabitants away from greed and war. You’ll need more practice, and Reus is happy to give it to you.
Playing through Reus and reading some comments on its Steam forum I can see where people are coming from when they say the map is too small. It’s the same size for a thirty minute game as it is for a two hour long game. I understand, but I have to both agree and disagree. A small map makes each village’s greed more important to watch, and having a limited amount of squares just makes the game more challenging. But at the same time it’d be nice to be able to pick from different sized worlds, even if it’s just a small, medium, and large kind of choice.
In the end I’d totally recommend this game, especially if you’re a fan of puzzle, world editing, god power games. It’s a 2D world with a lot going on. Easy controls and a straightforward interface make learning this simple yet complex game fun and not a chore. Reus is in its own genre, combining the traditional god power game with the puzzle and resource RTS genre. Sure, you probably will be playing Reus for hours and not days, but I can guarantee those hours will be fun.