The DigestVideo

Games Of May 2013: Reus

A “god game” that rewards divine restraint.

By John Teti • June 25, 2013

Swinging through Gameological HQ on a visit from Chicago, Samantha Nelson makes her long-awaited debut on The Digest! She’s here to talk about Reus, a “god game” that demands a more balanced approach than the usual “go all-out and conquer the world” setup. Sam—who also works as a restaurant critic in Chi-town—approves of today’s snack, a Good Humor frozen ice cream cone. And in fairness, it’s not bad. But I can never get over my mental block with pre-packaged ice cream cones. I can’t help but compare them to a “real” ice cream cone. The tyranny of high expectations.

I mention at the end of the video that Sam will be back in a couple of days, but that’s because I got the schedule mixed up in my head. She’ll be back tomorrow, when we dig into Ballpoint Universe.

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  • HobbesMkii

    I love Reus. I know that’s come up in other places. I have definitely not mastered it, but I do think there’s some perfect about it. I like that the giants can be in danger, and that forces you to make some rough trade-offs.

    I’ve always thought those “Great Flood” myths (like Deucalion & Pyrrha, and of course Noah and the Ark) were sort of ill-conceived. But Reus sort of makes me sympathize with the Judeo-Christian God and Zeus in those stories. I frequently have uppity villages that attack and destroy the others and then go on to be so rambunctious that they war against my giants, so I have to destroy their village. It’s not something I want to do, exactly, and I have to admit that the failure of the village to stay peaceful is largely a reflection on me, but I’ve made a horrible mistake, and the only effective tool I have at my disposal is to destroy them and start anew and hope that this time I’ll do well enough to prevent the new people from going down the same path.

    So that’s how Reus served as Bible Study for an agnostic.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I like that perspective, but it’s still a difficult one for me to fully embrace given the parental foundation of deity-hood.
         I’m willing to admit my view on this may be a touch myopic, but thinking on a cosmic parent having to kill your children because you didn’t put a wide enough arc on the peacock’s fan seems like a less than ideal solution. Maybe if god were interventionist on anything short of world-leveling cataclysm.  Maybe issuing a time out?
         I mean sure, I won’t lie.  The thousandth time my child inadvertently  kneed me in the groin because she was playing alligator bathtub I thought about tossing her out and starting fresh.  But ultimately, I guess that’s more a referendum on me than her.

      • Marozeph

        Maybe power simply warps your perspective.
        For most people, killing someone would cost quite some efford. But turn a guy into an absolutist ruler and he’ll suddenly have no qualms about murdering millions to do what he thinks is best for his people.
        Godlike power would basically lead to the next step: to build the perfect civilisation, you simply wipe out the ones that don’t work out too well.

      • HobbesMkii

        I’m not saying it’s a good line of thinking, only that I can understand it. It’s definitely from a place of blind rage. To illustrate, my thought processes during the game run like this:

        “…And you’ll get a nice copper mine here and–hold on, what the hell, is that an army coming towards this town? No. No! It’s destroying everything. Who sent that? You guys?! Don’t send armies out. Another one?! Fine, I’ll just destroy it. Oh, now you’re upset with me? That’s rich. Hey. HEY! What the hell? Don’t attack the giants! I’ll just destroy this angry mob. That should quie–ANOTHER ONE? FINE, THAT’S IT! NO MORE MISTER NICE GOD.

        *has rock giant smash village into dust*

        “I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LOAM, OUT OF NOTHING. YOU SHALL–ohhhhhh…I’ll bet this is how the real God felt…”

        • Effigy_Power

          Yes, that’s fairly similar.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          Nursing a manna hangover and regretting a wild night of apocalypses.

        • George_Liquor

          Ooooh man, who did I smite last night?

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Smitings From Last Night

          (646) Woke up to realize I was three lightning bolts short.

          (587) Did I just summon a flood last night? Sheesh.

          (360) LOOOOL there’s lava everywhere!

          (416) That SARS thing has kinda gotten outta hand, huh?

        • His_Space_Holiness

          SMOTE!

    • mizerock

      The Futurama episode “Godfellas” had a related theme and won the Writers Guild Of America Award for animation in 2003. It moved me.

      • lokimotive

        Yeah, listening to the description of this game, it seemed quite similar to the second act of that episode.

        I was god once.
        Yes I saw… You were doing well until everyone died.

  • Mr_Propellerhead

    I’ve met foxes that were man-eaters. :|

    • Fluka

      So completely tangential fox/game/murder-related post.  I learned today that apparently, in Skyrim, if you don’t kill the poor little woodland foxes, but rather follow them through the wilderness, they will eventually lead you to *secrets*?

      Is this a well known feature of the game?  Am I the only person to have never discovered this?  Because I’m a terrible, bloodthirsty fox murderer?!

      • Necrogem

         I also had no idea of the secrets foxes are evidently keeping in Skyrim, mostly because they never seemed to have any purpose to their movements. What kind of secrets, may I ask?  Is it treasure, or hidden dungeons, or maybe easter eggs?

        • Fluka

          I honestly have no clue!  I heard about this in a podcast just today.  Googling seems to confirm it, too, indicating that following them leads you to…something.  Again, the nebulous “secrets.”  Damn, I guess I have to go back to Skyrim and find out!  (“Oh no not again!”)

      • George_Liquor

        There’s a real-life fox living in my back yard. I followed him  through the wilderness once, and he revealed to me his vast treasure: A half-eaten bagel, one of those Wild Turkey mini bottles with the bottom chewed off, and a squeak toy he stole from my neighbor’s asshole dog. 

        • Fluka

          Magical!

        • Effigy_Power

          If he didn’t have a tiny violin and some magical coins it was a disappointment.

        • George_Liquor

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Why does everything have to be tiny violins & magic coins with you? Can’t you just let me have my drunken, klepto yard-fox and be happy?

        • WELCOME_THRILLHO

           Just be glad he left with his “squishy boots”, my friend.

      • Effigy_Power

        What? Don’t tell me that! The last thing I need is a reason to install and play Skyrim again! I have shit to do. Have you no heart?

      • Cloks

        When this “feature” originated, I’m fairly certain that it was misinformation that was debunked pretty quickly – Skyrim is jam-packed with enough stuff that following any random path will eventually lead you to something undiscovered, whether or not you followed a fox to get there.

      • HobbesMkii

        I’ve never heard of that, but one time my in-game adopted daughter found a fox and I let her keep it. I’ve regretted it ever since, because it is the most annoying animal ever.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

      Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up.

  • Effigy_Power

    Reus is definitely a great game, no question. I am generally a sucker for god-games, especially when my influence over my subjects is limited to me interacting with their environment. Reus has all of that AND more, so it’s great.
    There is however a great downside to this type of game and that is the very specific point at with the initial experimentation has to give way to the more complex stuff. Your first playthrough rewards you with a lot of new ways to play the game, even if you didn’t do too well. Even the second game, with some more knowledge about the functionality and the all-important combos, will reward you with cool stuff.
    But that’s where the game, for me at least and some other people I talked to, plateaus out. The initial, more or less logical combos and puzzles don’t reward you any further and I keep running into the same issues. Villages become warlike, foxes eat my people, shit goes to hell, in short. I can’t seem to unlock longer time-periods, because I can’t seem to unlock anything anymore. Clearly I have used up all the godlike creativity I could muster. The only step I see to continue is to follow a guide, which seems like cheating.
    I really like this game, it reminds me of all the good times I had with other god-games like Populus and Black&White, but it has a serious bump in the road for me that I am not sure I can overcome. Which is a bummer.

    • duwease

      I’ve maxed out my level at this point and am trying to clean up the last 15-20 unlocks, and I’m still feeling like I’m learning stuff (although I’m having to start actively planning things instead of just winging it).  The main pain seems to be villages who get too greedy and start attacking the giants.  Some of the higher-level buildings appear and immediately jack up the resources dramatically, so it’s hard to avoid.  I mainly just try and keep a small unused area between each town, so if someone gets uppity, I can lure their army there and smash it.  A couple of smashed armies usually sets em straight again.

    • http://cinematicgestures.blogspot.com/ Power_Lloyd

      For all – Are there other good “god games”? I have no familiarity with this genre. Thanks in advance.

    • CivilizationHasFailed

      What did you think of From Dust, since it does exactly what you like, force you to interact with only the environment? I thought it was a super cool, unique spin on the genre. The terrain mapping effects were awesome. I thought it was a tad repetitive and the AI was annoying when your guys can’t find a path that you’ve made for them and instead try to scale along a cliff. But for a budget title it was really cool.

      @Superdeformed:disqus As mentioned, give From Dust a try (downloadable on PS3 or 360, or on Steam on PC) – it’s a lower budget title, but very unique.

      • Effigy_Power

        From Dust looked really exciting when I bought it. The whole landscaping-aspect was really fun, but as you say, it had some flaws. The AI routing definitely was a huge issue, I lost scenarios constantly thanks to tribesmen getting stuck. Some of the levels rewarded speed rather than creativity, which meant you had to replay the same scenario a dozen times.
        I found I had the most fun when I had the time to carve the landscape however I liked… quite honestly, this would have been a great game if it wasn’t for the goals.

        • CivilizationHasFailed

          Well the last map lets you do just that – giving you pretty much free reign to do whatever you want with all of the powers. Then you unlock a goalless map I believe after the game. Which is more fun.

  • stakkalee

    The Gameological Society
    Rocks for food?

  • WELCOME_THRILLHO

    Factory made ice cream cones are never something I really look forward to or even remember existing when one is not in front of my face. That’s not to say they aren’t good, it’s more that they’re a dessert of convenience when you’re filling up the gas tank, grabbing something else from the convenience store or it’s late and you’re drunk. The chocolate nib at the end is definitely a silver lining, though.

    • Fluka

      How did it take this long for someone to make this (awesome) username?

      • WELCOME_THRILLHO

         Someone already had THRILLHO – I’m more than happy to steal any thunder and/or good will directed towards them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

    Sam’s enthusiasm for this game was very infectious. I wasn’t going to spend anymore money on games this month, so thanks for ruining that plan Gameological.

    • Samantha Nelson

      You’re welcome!

  • Enemencio

    .