Reus is a game about shaping a world for the benefit of humankind – and smashing humans to bits when they get too full of themselves.
Reus is a 2D God game from Dutch indie developer Abbey Games. The player’s goal is to bring life back to the surface of a barren planet and to help humankind thrive. This is accomplished by making use of the abilities of four giants, each with control over a domain of the natural world.
Reus eschews a campaign or scenarios in favor of a more open play style. Each game has a preset time, from half an hour to two hours, accommodating both the quick and the lengthy game. I appreciate this feature, as it helps rein in my habit of losing a whole day without realizing it (I’m looking at you, every Sid Meier game ever). Fortunately, Reus is straightforward enough that you can pick up the fundamentals in a couple of short games. The controls are easy to grasp, and make creating a world a painless process. One small complaint about the controls: The “Create Chicken” and “Create Ocean” hotkeys are adjacent. A number of poultry-deprived villages have been consigned to a watery grave as a result.
Giants can fill the world with a variety of animals, plants, and minerals. They vary between biomes but are fairly easy to keep track of at first. The variety of choices allows you to find your own preferred combinations. However, as you play complete playthroughs, more plants and animals are unlocked. Over time, it can become difficult to keep track of which high-level resources complement one another, making planning difficult. I feel that a tech tree button would have been a welcome addition, as no one should have to memorize every mineral that goes well with tapirs.
Humans are the spring from which all conflict, tension and hilarity in Reus flow. Their appearance is reminiscent of Playmobil toys, if Playmobil toys occasionally piled into longboats and sounded the drums of war. Their capriciousness adds another level of strategy to the game. Fulfilling their desires empowers the giants, but doing it too quickly makes you seem like a pushover. Before long the humans will think they can use force to get what they want. This leads to war against other villages and eventually the giants; which in turn leads to pulverized villages.
Reus encourages you to find your own way of playing. It’s deep enough to provide a large amount of replay value and straightforward enough that you won’t feel lost as it introduces you to additional gameplay elements. The learning curve is gradual and accommodating, even if it gets a bit steeper at the end. Furthermore, the developers are still very involved, patching for balance and adding new content. Reus is a gem of an indie game that’s well worth the very reasonable price.
Reus is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence.