I believe it would be fair to say that games like The Sims and Civilization found their popularity mostly through the amount of control they give players. Whether it be controlling every action a character performs or attempting to keep your very own nation striving and prosperous, these kinds of games allow players to feel like they have godlike powers. This is completely true in REUS, a beautiful god game in which players play as the planet itself and not any one character or nation leader. Controlling the planet itself does allow the game to put certain restrictions on the player with a reasonable explanation.
Since the planet doesn’t have any way to directly interact with its surface, players are instead given four Giants that represent and control several aspects of the natural world. Given a very soothing (if somewhat repetitive) song that sets a very natural tone, REUS allows players to really relax while trying to control the Giants. These four Giants include the Ocean Giant, the Earth Giant, the Forest Giant, and the Swamp Giant (my personal favorite). Each of these Giants serve a main purpose while also covering many powers that vary slightly from Giant to Giant. For example, the Ocean Giant can create arguably the most important resource, the ocean. When the Ocean Giant makes an ocean, the dry wasteland on either side of the ocean becomes wet wasteland that can be turned into forest or swamp. On top of this, oceans can be populated with various types of fish that can provide food, wealth, and technology.
These resources are what allow settlers to from villages that can ultimately help the Giants and are the only way to truly progress in the game. While being a god game, REUS also has some sort of rogue like elements when it comes to its end goal and how the player can make pseudo-progress. I say pseudo-progress because every time a game ends, players may have completed various developments that can help to unlock longer game sessions (60 minutes and 120 minutes or even the endless Free play mode) or new projects for towns to complete during a future game. These projects include things such as granaries, schools, and universities, which are the upgraded forms of schools. These projects can give various bonuses that help villages grow faster. To build these projects, a village must meet certain requirements within a set amount of time.
These projects make up a large portion of the game’s achievements and a large portion of the goal in the actual game. By finishing these projects, villages can grow and raise the prosperity for the playthrough. To this end, the Giants work tirelessly to ensure the humans have everything they need. Whether this means planting nature such as fruit or herbs, making homes for animals such as rabbits (for food) or clownfish (for wealth), placing minerals such as quartz or onyx, improving any of these resources or even wiping out villages that are making trouble for other villages.
With the Giants being what they are and as powerful as they are, controlling the humans is surprisingly difficult. This is due in-part to the player having no direct control over the villages and only controlling them through the Giants, the resources those Giants give, and the various other things the Giants do throughout a game. The humans can declare war on one another at any time and will do so if their greed becomes too high. On top of this, villages can even attack the Giants and that is a whole other situation to deal with.
All of these different scenarios happen fairly often and create situations in which player will be forced to make important decisions about how to handle the humans. Every action the player can perform throughout REUS is easy to do and works very well. Every aspect and available action is explained very well in the tutorial of the game, making it easy to play after spending the time on the three separate tutorials. Short of explaining why there isn’t a 2x speed button, these tutorials make the very daunting task of controlling the Giants seem much more manageable. It certainly helps that the controls are intuitive and actively work to be simplistic while allowing players to perform not so simplistic tasks. So long as long, drawn out games are not a problem, this game could potentially be played by anyone with enough time.
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