There are very few games in which you are cast as an entire planet. In fact I can’t think of any games where you are explicitly told you are a planet outside of Abbey Games’ Reus. Reus has been around for a while, debuting on PC back in 2013, but it is only recently it made its way to the PS4. It fits in the genre of a god game though as you look to spread life across the surface, though as a rock floating through the cosmos you don’t have the ability to do it yourself. It is fortunate then that there are giants that are around to help with the task.
The four giants that are tasked with nurturing life are the Swamp, Forest, Rock, and Ocean. As you may guess from their names each can summon different environments, for example Rock creating mountains and deserts. There is a balance that needs to be observed if you wish to have all of the environments present. For example neither the swamp or forests can exist without an ocean. The desert climate can be created without the need for any other biome.
Creating environments is only the first step in nurturing life though. The Swamp, Ocean, and Forest giants can all create life. The first two can summon animals into existence while Swamp also has the power to create plant life in the form of herbs, while Forest can bring about fruit and other plants. The type of animals or plants that appear is dependant on the environment, so swamps could have frogs while deserts have desert rats. These aren’t the only animals in the game, though it does take some experimentation to unlock the higher tier ones.
Each animal, plant and mineral can generate food, wealth, tech or awe which are required for when the humans arrive. As the humans settle they’ll build certain structures which require one or more of the above, and you’ll need to meet the numbers demanded to make sure a project is a success. Early projects may only require 15 food to be present, which is added by the resources available. Later projects will require much more as humans become less impressed with the giants.
You can’t rely on the basic resources for long and so must take on board symbiosis. Each resource performs better if you place a specific one next to it. For example two quartz mines next to each other will boost wealth, while blueberries next to a strawberry patch can increase food yield. However these are just the basics and as you experiment with different combinations you’ll unlock more minerals, animals and plants. However you do need the help of the giants in this endeavour.
Each has powers to add aspects to the resources which can evolve them into something else. The forest giant can add leaves, the swamp monster can add toxins, and the ocean monster can make things grow better. The rock giant is able to improve the state of minerals. Sometimes using just one of these powers is enough to improve a resource, though others require additional aspects. The only way to unlock a giant’s power is by helping to complete the human’s projects, which spawns an ambassador. You can choose which giant gets the ambassador which in turn unlocks one of their powers.
If the humans are catered too much they could start getting greedy and more hostile. If there are a number of villages on your planet then a warring one will invade another for its resources. You can allow this to unfold but if you want to protect the world from the greedy village it can be destroyed. You can hurl muck balls with the swamp monster or cause an earthquake with the rock monster. Doing either will eventually eradicate the village and its people allowing for a new settlement to eventually appear.
There are two main modes of play with these being freeform and era. In freeform you can play for as long as you like but you won’t be able unlock new resources or developments. Era is the main part of the game though even here there are different tiers. When you first start you’ll only be able to play 30 minute games but after you unlock some items the hour and two hour options become available. The issue is though that Reus can become a bit repetitive a little too quickly.
You’ll always have the four giants and you’ll always have the same kind of structures being built. The real challenge is in unlocking the resources so you have more available to help with constructing the civilisation on the planet. The main point is to experiment by trying to mix different resources with different environments and aspects to discover a new item.
Reus is a great looking, colourful game with decent music. The art style is distinct and the giant designs are all very well done. It is one of those games you would put on when you have a bit of time to kill because it is so easy to get into. You’ll learn the systems quite quickly as you chop and change the world to meet the requirements of the people, though it will take quite a lot of playing to unlock everything and beat the challenges that Reus has listed in it. At times though you can’t help but feel you’re just doing the same thing over and over, and a little bit more substance would help flesh out the experience Reus offers.
Version tested: PlayStation 4