Games like Reus are the hardest to review. Developer Abbey Games’ god-sim / puzzler oozes charm and creativity. Alas the gameplay itself left me a little cold.
Seriously, I feel like I’m missing something here. Reus is very much trying to demonstrate the nature of an ecosystem – how we’re all connected – the majority of the game is figuring out little synergies and bonuses from combining various flora and fauna, such as putting edible plants next to minerals increases production for both, as does putting animals next to fruit, and so on.
Initial impressions are strong, as you’re given control of several elemental giants that you use to generate terrain, food, and resources for the population. What’s neat here is the synergy between the elements. You need an ocean to create a forest, for example. Each giant has special abilities that influence this ecosystem as well – some can create ‘rare’ animals, others minerals, upgrades, etc.
As time moves forward, various tribes will work on various projects, which you can assist with by providing extra resources or modifying currently existing ones. For example a shrine may require a certain about of ‘wealth’ so it might be in your best interest to demolish some fruit trees in name of minerals.
Alas, all this information is communicated via icons on the right hand side. While you’ll see a fruit or animal type change based on how you upgrade them, there isn’t much visual feedback to show prosperity, only numbers and meters. In a game like Sim City, building plots would group together to create mega structures if doing well, or turn into desolate wastelands if there wasn’t demand to meet the supply. This aspect is sadly missing from Reus.
Visual feedback like this would have gone a long way to making the goals in this game clear. I am in love with charming games like Black & White and The Settlers. Games that are strategic yes, but also toys – you can watch The Settlers II for hours just to see how your economy grows and how your little villages travel across the footpaths you created. Here I felt overwhelmed, and confused, either because the game was as simple as I thought, or I was doing something wrong. Regardless, I was not endeared enough to spend more than a few hours with the game.
At the same time, it’s possible a bite-sized game like this is for you. Reus is more of a puzzler, requiring forward thinking and attention to unit and tile placement, in order to unlock new upgrades, minerals, plants, and so on. It’s a God game, but in this case, God appears to be an accountant.
And if there’s one thing I know about God, it’s that if you consider the wonder that is the three-toed sloth or the Duckbill Platypus, he did not think ahead. Maybe you’d enjoy showing Him up.