In Reus (the dutch word for "giant"), you control 4 giants (Abbey Games, you rascals) that represent different types of biomes. The Earth has spent eons in slumber, but now it's time to wake up, and flourish. Harness the power of the crablike water giant to create oceans, form the land into a series of mineral-rich deposits using the rock giant, feed the hungry with the forest giant monkey-thing's growth powers, and allow the study of "herbs" through the dope abilities of the swamp giant. Reus allows for a huge variety of playthroughs that are always fun, and never stressful.
Reus is available now on Xbox ONE and PS4 as well as on Steam.
The story is a simplistic one that lets you jump right in. The Earth is in a dormant state. Using the powers of the giants, you can create a habitable land to attract humans, whose spirits grant the giants even more abilities. You are taken through the "story" in a 30-minute tutorial that spans 3 eras, each of which teaches you 1-2 basic elements you will encounter in Reus. Beginning as an innocent Earth who yearns for humans, you will soon learn that with great power comes great risk, for these humans can turn on you (and the giants) in an instant.
After making your way through the tutorials, you are urged to play "Era mode", the main form of gameplay in Reus. In Era mode, you use all the tools the tutorial gave you to form the land to your liking to attract human civilization, unlocking new projects, developments, and achievements while on a time crunch ranging from 30 minutes to an hour.
Diversity is the name of the game here (well, technically the name of the game is Reus, but you get my meaning). Each type of biome nets you different types of resources. Oceans created by the water giant allow the adjacent land to grow swamps and forests, which grant technology (those "herbs" really give the inventors inspiration) and food respectively. The deserts created by the rock giant can hold mineral deposits, which grant wealth to its inhabitants. After a section of land gets to a certain resource level, it will attract humans, who will then build a settlement for the giants to watch flourish or fail. That's not to say the giants don't work well together. The interactions between the different abilities of the giants are actually one of the most exciting parts of the game.
Combos, combos, combos. The different abilities of the giants can combine to grant exponentially greater resources through symbiosis. An animal placed by the water giant will generate 3 times as much food when placed in a town with a blueberry bush, and an exotic animal (stoat, eagle, leopard) will become more valuable when in a town that has access to the rock giant's mining patches. Each giant also has different aspects; augmentations to plants and animals that allow them to transform into even more plants and animals. Give the swamp giant's peppermint bush the water giant's growth aspect to transmute it into tomatoes, or transform a chicken into a rabbit using the forest giant's herd aspect. These aspects give you access to over 100 plant and animal variants. This leads to a ton of customization in how your different environments flourish. You can create a rabbit infested forest, or an iron-rich desert, based on the way you want your towns to run. Aspects are an amazing tool that keeps playing Reus feel fresh and fun for tons of hours. The tricky part, though, is unlocking them.
Unlocking the aspect abilities is done through gaining ambassadors. When a town or settlement gains enough resources, they will start working on various projects (schools, factories, etc.). To complete these projects, you must work to increase the town's food, technology, or wealth above a certain level. Finish a project, and an ambassador appears, which can then fuse its spirit with the appropriate giant (a project completed in a swamp will grant a swamp ambassador, which can fuse with the swamp giant to give him a new ability). More ambassadors mean more abilities, which leads to more complex environments, and bigger civilizations! Exciting stuff.
Humans play a vital role in the game. Besides giving the giants more power, they are the main reason you are improving the world in the first place; so they can live in it. In fact, a major section of the HUD is devoted to how prosperous and happy your humans are. Be careful, though, for humans that live in too much prosperity can become greedy. A greed-infested town will wage war with other villages, or worse, the giants. If that happens, then you have no choice but to show them who's boss. That can mean killing the traitorous little dudes or destroying a town altogether by having the rock giant smash it or (more satisfyingly) having the water giant drown it. There's a balance to making humans happy and keeping them in line.
Reus has a lot going for it, but there are a few flaws to address as well. The most prevalent is a missing fast forward feature. Pausing time can be done with a simple click of the left stick, but there is no way to advance the clock at a faster rate when you're waiting on a settlement to collect food or for a giant to travel halfway around the world to place resources. Switching between giants can feel a bit clunky at times, especially when you gain multiple aspects to use. There were several times where I used the wrong aspect on a plant or animal and then had to wait on a 20-second cooldown to use the appropriate aspect. The tutorial also tended to feel like a bit of a chore. The features of the game are so intuitive and clever that you understand them in an instant, causing you to groan at a 15-minute tutorial that discusses the idea of how to keep a civilization happy. Lastly, I wish there were a way to pacify a town full of war-hungry humans. I always hated having to destroy a perfectly good town that was tainted by a shoddy mayor.
Graphics and sound
The art is beautifully simplistic, but it doesn't lack detail. There were times where I caught myself just enjoying watching the world live; animals run around, people mingle with each other, and plants wisp in the wind. The music tows a thin line between relaxing and monotonous. The giants are wonderful to look at. They kind of just chug along watching their work. I know the feel, giants. The main track (which you'll hear 85% of the time) is a nice tune, but if you play this after a long day, the music may just lull you right to sleep. That being said, the music also acts as one of the things that make Reus great; there's no pressure when you play. What will be, will be. That's one of the main virtues of this game` that the soundtrack loyally reinforces.
Reus is a game where the mood you're in will make it or break it. It's a joy when you just want to sit back and watch the world turn, but if you're in an actiony mood, it might just feel like a bore.
What it does, it does very well. No 2 playthroughs in Reus will ever be the same, and you'll always leave with memories of eons passed and civilizations fallen. If you're in the mood to relax the day away with by playing God to a bunch of ungrateful, but lovable humans, this game is the perfect fit for you.
For my own playthroughs, I enjoyed the game for a wild 12 hours before sitting down to write this review. Two civilizations I was particularly proud of were Wildsborough and Fire Mantle. They were my pride and joy, for they did the unthinkable; with their powers combined they gave in to their greed and defeated my giants. I gladly hand over my world to them. For this reviewer, and his 2 favorite towns I guess the Gods really are dead.
|+ Diverse world with tons of content||– Bare bones story|
|+ Great replay value||– Boring if you're in a killing mood|
|+ Relaxing way to spend an afternoon|