By: Jeff Cater
Developer and publisher Abbey Games, a small group of talented folks in the heart of the Netherlands, have created a wonderful “humanity” builder in the form of Reus. Your task in the game is relatively simple: raise human beings to advance their technology while keeping an eye on how greedy the population is. If they get too greedy, destroy them and start anew!
In order to craft the world around you and make it fit for human life you must utilize all of the unique skills attained by your giants. There are four giants that help you out with this, each with their own abilities and aesthetics.
Your forest-growing ent-like god can cause fruit plants to sprout up, and your ocean god can upgrade those plants by blessing them with growth. Once you start to mix the powers of these gods you’re able to unlock and create advanced resources, like turning a salt mine into an awe-inspiring crystal or blessing a patch of land with groups of foxes that produce wealth.
Once a village has sprouted up it’s time to complete some quests for it, like producing enough Technology and Food stats within your borders to, say, complete a school. At first, Reus seems very paint-by-numbers and you can really screw up during the earlier missions if you don’t do exactly as you’re supposed to.
For example, I decided to build another ocean on the other side of a village I was working on. This was fine and dandy until I realized that the ocean took up too much space and didn’t allow for my village to expand properly because I ran out of land tiles within my borders to build on. So, if there’s one piece of advice I can give to new players it’s this: Listen to the tutorial and don’t dare stray from its requests.
Eventually, however, Reus is very unique and fun. In fact, it’s quite unlike anything that you’ve likely played before, but this uniqueness comes with some trouble as well. For starters, the control scheme is, at best, merely okay.
You’ll scroll across the terrain with the left stick, zooming in and out with the right. To highlight a command for one of your gods you’ll use the directional pad, and pressing X will execute the command. Sounds easy enough, but things get a bit shifty when you start examining patches of land with the Triangle button.
If you highlight a patch and press Triangle then your cursor moves to a separate window with very little indication of such. From there you can select a few options regarding the evolution of the patch and select one with X, but the game doesn’t automatically set you back to the default landscape control mode, so you have to press another button to exit.
It’s a minor complaint, but when you’re really trying to get symbiosis and transfusion correct for a certain patch of land then you’ll be fighting with it more often than not. That and the all-too-necessary tooltips cover up a bigger portion of the screen than they should, leading to most of your screen being filled with black windows and text until you memorize what each ability does and what its prerequisites are.
That being said, I do appreciate that the text is very clear and easy to read. You may also unlock new abilities by completing objectives and causing an ambassador to spawn, who can be picked up by any giant you have.
Reus is also very slow paced, as each of your lumbering gods slowly shifts across the landscape. This only really becomes noticeable when you have multiple villages popping up with different needs, so you’ll be sending your giants back and forth constantly, which just equates to long wait times of stuff not happening.
However, as it’s a slow-paced game at its core anyway it’s easy to get used to after a while, and having a major event happen due to your sluggish giants is a truly rare occurrence if you’re paying attention and juggling the menus properly.
Reus is very unique and relaxing to play. The animations leave a bit to be desired, but the general aesthetic is very pleasing, as are the soundtrack and effects. If you’re looking for something a tad different than anything you’ve ever touched before, definitely give Reus a shot; there’s nothing quite like it out there.