Reus by Abbey Games, a 2013 Dutch Design Award finalist, is what you might call a “god game” for the PC. You begin the game with a barren world. You bring life to it using the powers of the giants you control. There’s the ocean giant, the forest giant, the swamp giant, and the mountain giant. Once you’ve had these giants lay down some land – ocean, forest, swamp, or mountain/desert respectively – you then have them lay down some resources. You could put down some plants, some animals, or some minerals. For example, the forest giant can plant blueberries and the swamp giant can build mines. Once you have any type of resource in place, a nomad will come along and decide to settle there. He’ll somehow find others and start up a village. The village will grow as you put down more resources. Plants can be evolved as well as animals to become something that gives you even more resources. Every so often the villagers will start up projects that require resources to be completed, such as a certain amount of food or a certain amount of wealth. For instance, the shrine requires 15 food and 15 wealth to be completed. The shrine itself brings more wealth and more food for each animal that is housed within the borders of the village.
Once a project is completed, you’ll get a wee ambassador, who stands on the shoulders of the giants and adds to their abilities. The added ability depends on which giant you choose. For example, a forest ambassador given to the forest giant gives him the ability to upgrade plants to the fruit variety. Giving that same forest ambassador to the ocean giant instead allows the ocean giant to upgrade minerals.
On the surface Reus seems like a pretty simple game. At first I doubted how long it would actually hold my attention.
This long, by the way…
… because it actually gets more complex than it initially appears. What you place, where you place it, when you place it, what it’s placed next, what is placed next to what you’ve placed it next to, and what is next to that and on and on an on – it all makes a difference in what resources you get from it and how many. For example: a certain building project gives you get +100 tech for having a rabbit within the boundaries of the village. But you lose tech if you have more than one rabbit within the boundaries. If you have that rabbit next to a plant, the rabbit gives more tech or more food. And so on and so on.
But planting plants and breeding animals is not all. You know to keep an eye on the tempers of the townspeople. If your civilization gets too greedy (which happens if they advance too quickly) they’ll walk their little selves over to the closest village and destroy the people of that village. And if that doesn’t appease them, they’ll start attacking your giants. The giants may be big, but they are no match for the rage of tiny people and they walk really slow so it’s hard to get them away. If one giant dies, the game is over. If they’re attacking and you can’t get away, the only choice at that point is to smite them. Destroy them with an earthquake or a flood and hope that serves as a lesson to the other villages.
There’s so much more to the game than I can really explain in this review, but I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes simulation or strategy games. And anyone who wants to spend hours and hours stuck in front of a laptop saying “Just one more game! Just one more game!” because they just can’t stop playing.