Reus is a strategy God Sim where the player controls 4 Giants who can alter the terrain of a barren planet. Like most God games, the object is to shape an empty and desolate land into a thriving and populated land. Reus sets out to make this a deep and challenging experience. The result is good, but not quite divine.
The controls are simple and easy to understand while the gameplay is deep and nuanced. The object of the game is simple. You control 4 giants: Ocean Crab, Forest Tree Guy, Rock Hulk, and Swamp Thing. You cycle through their powers using the D-Pad and execute actions with the face buttons. The challenging part of the game is learning how the systems work together. For example, Forest Tree Guy can’t make a forest without water, so Ocean Crab must make an ocean first. It’s these dependencies that make the game challenging, and when set correct, very rewarding.
One of the issues that I have with the game is pace. Everything feels like it takes forever to execute. If you want to make an ocean, for example, you must physically move Ocean Crab around using the joystick. Ocean Crab walks super slowly, and there is no way to speed him up. So, you end up just looking at the screen for a few minutes, waiting for Ocean Crab to get where he needs to go. Now, multiply that by 4. Most games will take about an hour or hour-and-a-half to complete. Once you have “completed” a planet, you can continue watching resources grow and people fight, but there there are no new objectives or goals for the player.
The biggest issue with the game is lack of engagement. None of the characters that eventually inhabit your world are named, so you don’t have much of a connection to the world that you are building. Also, there aren’t consequences to the inhabitants for anything that happens. It would be nice to watch civilizations rise and fall, be overtaken and rebuilt and so on, but there is none of that depth in Reus. The other issue that I have is a lack of variety overall. Reus is focused more on design and implementation and less on building civilizations. Towards that end, I would have liked to see more variety to modes and even maps. Think about the possibility of different types of inhabitants, being created based on your placement of things or new vegetation and animal life. As it stands, every playthrough will have you creating the same types of things. The game does offer a sandbox mode, along with the standard mission mode. A 4 person co-op experience where each friend controls a different giant could have been fun, or a series of goal specific missions to overcome and complete in shorter bursts would have been welcome. As it stands, even though the primary mode is deep and fulfilling, there is not much replay value.
In the end, Reus is a deep game that has a lot to offer to a player that is analytic or puzzle-minded. If you enjoy watching resources build up and you get a certain high from arranging types of land to their fullest potential, then Reus is something you should consider. If you are looking for a game like Black and White or World of Keflings, then you might be a little disappointed. There is little personality in the game and almost no engagement in the world you are building. The game looks good and controls well and will offer hours of in depth planning to build the perfect world. If you are looking for a puzzle game wrapped in a God sim then Reus may be worth a look.