hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Reus

5:00 PM on 05.20.2013 // Fraser Brown
  @FraserIBrown

Serving and smashing tiny societies

The prosperous settlement of Castletown had everything its residents could possibly desire. Lumbering giants had turned a once barren wasteland into a fertile coastal forest, and like titanic servants they had places mines, plants, and animals for the townsfolk to consume and exploit. What began as a dinky village had grown into a mighty town filled with hustle and bustle.

Yet these spoon-fed tiny people were not content. They had everything, but they wanted more. Their gaze drifted across the ocean to the newly founded village of Legionville, nothing more than a handful of tents surrounded by a swamp. The warriors of Castletown took to their ships, and sailed across the ocean, their spears at the ready. Mere minutes after arriving in the swamp, they had utterly decimated Legionville. 

And so it was with a heavy heart that I ordered my giants to turn against their charges, pummelling the ground, throwing toxic sludge at the scurrying, shrieking townsfolk. Castletown was no more, punished by their god for their misdeeds. 

A god sim with the hint of a puzzle game, Reus makes players the caretakers and guardians of humanity while also giving them the tools to destroy them should their children become too greedy. At first it plays like a simple game that would be more at home on an iPad, before eventually revealing itself to be a deep, tricky strategy title that will swallow up hours of your life.

Reus (PC)
Developer: Abbey Games
Publisher: Abbey Games

Released: May 16, 2013 
MSRP: $9.99
Rig: Intel i5-3570K @3.40 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670, and Windows 7 64-bit  

The world begins as a grey, featureless circle -- a 2D realm -- with a volcanic core. From the dead ground, giants spring forth; great lumbering titans who slowly walk the land in huge strides. These giants are the agents of the player, ostensibly a god, and are the catalysts for the planet's rebirth. 

Each of these behemoths has a niche, represented by their striking appearance. The blue-grey crab giant is a master of oceans, while his sentient mountain friend raises the land and creates deserts. There are four in total, covering the realms of the sea, desert, forest and swamp. 

The "goal" of Reus is the development of prosperous settlements; towns and villages that cannot be interacted with directly. To make them grow, one must command their helpful giants to alter the landscape -- at first terraforming, then adding resources.  

When the first biome has been created and one resource has been planted, nomads will appear, suddenly giving up their wandering lifestyle to settle permanently. Not long after building their unimpressive tent village, the wee humans will start their first great work.

These projects guide players on what resources to lay down, as their completion demands certain things. A shrine, for instance, may require a specific amount of wealth and food before it can be finished. Eventually schools, barracks, foundries, docks, and all manner of other larger structures will get built.

Not only do completed projects provide even more resources for the settlement, they also generate an ambassador. These special individuals can be picked up by the giants, and will sit atop them, giving them a new ability depending on which giant they are offered to, and what type of biome their home town is in. With these new abilities, the giants can augment, upgrade, and completely transform animals, plants, and minerals, allowing the minuscule tent villages to grow into increasingly modern cities.  

Every new game of Reus is an opportunity to advance the world more and more. Ticking off items on the long list of objectives -- from developing a prosperous town just with plants and animals, to developing one that goes to war frequently -- unlocks new resources, and round and round the game goes, getting longer and increasingly complex. 

Reus tranforms from something you play for half an hour, lackadaisically sprouting herbs and encouraging fish to appear, to a race against the clock where you'll explore and experiment with symbiosis, manage greed levels, and watch as different cultures slaughter each other.  

As individual games get longer -- completing a certain number of objectives unlocks lengthier games -- Reus really shows off its depth, and it allows multiple towns to progress through the different stages of civilization. 

The key to helping the hapless humans isn't simply plonking down stuff that generates the wealth, food, and science that they need, as the areas in which you can cultivate resources are very small. Making the most out of limited spaces is what's paramount. During the early stages of development, towns don't really require all that much. Projects need only tiny amount of resources that can be collected in a matter of minutes. 

By the time the larger, more demanding projects start cropping up, a town's sphere of influence will have increased, but only marginally, and it's then that symbiosis and advanced giant abilities come into play. 

Every resource gets an extra boost through symbiosis. A topaz mine might generate more wealth when placed next to a stone quarry, while certain types of animals might generate more food when they are near some plants or berries. Sometimes the symbiosis makes sense, as fatter animals will generate more food, but most of the time it's a wee bit arbitrary. 

It does go a long way to making these small bits of land dynamic, however, and there's always a reason to reassess resource placement, destroying old mines to add some plants instead because that's what the greedy villagers have now decided that they want. 

The giants' mystical abilities, earned through collecting ambassadors (I do wonder what these "chosen" people do while they are hanging around on the heads of giants), allows them to mutate the various flora, fauna, and rocks that they've already placed.

This might mean a particular resource starts generating more wealth, but that's far from the end of it. Once augmented, it can be evolved into an entirely new resource, with new symbiosis bonuses. These more highly evolved species get additional slots so that even more abilities can be used on them, potentially allowing them to evolve again. 

Like the planet itself, the gameplay constantly expands and evolves, adding more elements that you can attempt to place in the surprisingly complex jigsaw, forcing you to play just one more round. During the first half-hour I wasn't sure how long it could really hold my attention, and then before I knew it, I'd sunk five hours into the bloody thing. 

There's a visual pay-off for all this effort, as well. As civilizations grow, the purely aesthetic buildings start to change as well, as do the little citizens, their period costumes going from tribal affairs to medieval style dress and so on. It has a minimalist cartoon art-style, but it's detailed enough so that it's always a joy to zoom in and see what these ant-sized worshippers are getting up to.

The pace of Reus, starting players off with tutorials and then short games, ultimately growing into two hour sessions where all of human history plays out, off-sets the game's complexity. Its simple controls and clean interface also makes something that could have been an obstinate chore pleasant to get to grips with. At first I bemoaned the lack of more detailed menus and alternative control options, but I miss them not at all now.

Reus is a game of logical, organic systems presented as simply as possible. It's a delight to play at every turn, and it strikes the perfect balance between providing new content and not overloading players. Beneath its unassuming appearance exists a challenging experience that will last a good long time. Maybe not as long as it took for humanity to grow from nomadic tribes to city-dwelling go-getters, but who the hell has time for that?   



THE VERDICT

9

Reus - Reviewed by Fraser Brown
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I have never farted. #TrueLies
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
Getting banned soon!
VIRGO avatarVIRGO
Here's to hoping Nintendo makes mobile games as compelling as Pac-Man 256...
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I hate when a new game comes out and D-toid gets flooded with stuff about a game I don't know anything about and I'm just stuck here, sitting with myself and my freeware games...
Dreggsao avatarDreggsao
It is the middle of the night and Yu-Gi-OH is on TV. Are children with insomnia so common these days?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
My hair's done did and my Teddie cosplay is officially ready for next weekend's Comic-Con! Do I impress you, Sensei? [img]http://i.imgur.com/ZNlOmMf.jpg[/img]
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Replaying Tales of Symphonia for the first time in years, I only just now realized how random the plot is. Our goals are decided at Lloyd's whimsy, while we get major revelations just 'whenever'. Still a good game, but I'm proud to be #TeamBatenKaitos.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Question Time! What's YOUR MGSV Helicopter music?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today at work, I made a reference to the DK Rap in one of my news pieces. Any day that I get to do that is a good day.
gajknight avatargajknight
Everyone's playing MGSV...and I've just arrived in Skellige in The Witcher 3. At this rate, I'll get 'round to MGSV when the PS7 arrives.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Currently learning Little Trinketry from Valiant Hearts: The Great War on piano. [youtube]http://youtu.be/40fulS_olU8[/youtube]
Retrofraction avatarRetrofraction
MGSV is literally the Skyrim of stealth. 15 hours 3%... #Sneaker'sdelight
ThinMatrix avatarThinMatrix
The Kickstarter campaign is now live for Socuwan – the quirky indie MMORPG created by the community, for the community! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1465468930/socuwan-the-community-driven-indie-mmorpg
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
Excellent video game OST's for the week (no particular order): 1) Super Stickman Golf 2 2) Lethal League 3) Crypt of the Necrodancer
DanteKinkade avatarDanteKinkade
Final season of Continuum is on tonight, featuring time traveling solders in power armor. I can't wait! https://carl9000.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/c15.jpg?w=842
Kallo avatarKallo
That moment when you look at your backlog of games...and it looks back and you and says "What the hell man? you have over 100 games on this list!". I feel guilty...
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
Idris Elba needs to be James Bond & heck to anyone who thinks otherwise
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
We need a Dtoid RPG that stars Mr Destructoid, Gardevoir, Macho Man Randy Savage, and MATT DAMON. The hub zone will be Nekro's dungeon.
Cynic without a Cause avatarCynic without a Cause
In the middle of discovering a bunch of Hirasawa Susumu's non-film related work. Currently listening to Planet Roll Call. Fantastic album!
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
*Looks at Battle.net* League of Storm Heroes. Magic: The Hearthstone. Diablo. Starcraft. World of Warcraft. Oh, pay $10 to unlock Tychus. ...Guys, is Blizzard evil? I mean really, despicably, EA-level evil?
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
Reus


  Apr 16

God game Reus hits Steam, GOG.com, and more in May

How hard could it be to watch over huma--oh. They're all dead


  Feb 08

God game Reus is back with a better look at gameplay

Help humans prosper but be wary of their greed


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -