hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Reus

5:00 PM on 05.20.2013 // Fraser Brown

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?   



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 community fisters, 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 * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Zyk avatarZyk
Gettin drunk and watching the entire Critters series in a Tuesday. Best thing about being unemployed.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
If Undertale isn't your GOTY 2015, then you are sorely mistaken [img][/img]
Deadgar64 avatarDeadgar64
Sleep? Who needs sleep? 12:44 am can eat my shorts.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Anyone else getting massive lag in between games of the Battlefront Beta? I'm running an AMD rig so it might be that but just want to know it's not just me.
Shinta avatarShinta
1 hour stream of Dragon Quest Heroes.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Plague Knight is pretty rad, even when represented by mediocre artists [img][/img]
Shinta avatarShinta
Initial impressions: Chibi-Robo Zip lash is pretty damn fun so far. It's like Mr. Mosquito + Castlevania + Umihara. Controls are spot on, platforming is actually very solid so far, and the characters are about as charming as they can get. +amiibo.
nanashi avatarnanashi
Question: Is resident evil nemesis supposed to start off with a toolbox that has (unlimited) ink ribbon, 250 handgun ammo, magnum (w/ammo), shotgun (w/ammo) and two assault clips, in the first room of the game?????
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[img][/img] Much want. Such need. Ow.
Shinta avatarShinta
[img][/img] Can you imagine if greedy aliens stole all YOUR snacks? I don't even know how I'd handle it honestly. I don't even want to think about it.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Great. YouTube took down my nude re - enactment of She-Wolf. Again. Fuck you Shakira. Let my art shine.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
BREAKING: Inner city man and "Pokemon Go" enthusiast found dead after entering rival gang's territory. "All he wanted was a Shiny Charizard!" according to an interview with a close friend. "We found him on the street, limp as a Magikarp stuck on a beach."
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I completely forgot that Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow had an animated opening. Other than the compression, it actually looks really good today, and makes me wonder why Konami didn't commission some sort of Castlevania anime. That would have been sweet.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Gamestop has Splatoon amiibo up, if that's your thing. Totally didn't order and just cancel mine.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Anyone else having issues with italics in blogs? I went to save a draft, and when it loaded the post-saving creature I was working on, the entire text had been italicized and I now am unable to change it back. I've been possessed!
So that's $50 for the season pass on top of the game already costing sixty at launch, plus the monthly subscription fee for playing online on consoles. All in the name of getting the full experience! VYDEO_GEAMEZ!!
BroskiTheChocobo avatarBroskiTheChocobo
Why hello there. My name is Broski and I am new here so be nice. I'll be posting some content over the next few days so have a read and I hope you enjoy it. Broski out.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
tired but I gotta work. Would rather play more MGS5.
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:

  Apr 16

God game Reus hits Steam,, 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!


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 -