Reus is a god game, but not one that makes you feel particularly omnipotent. That’s partly because all the divine heavy lifting and occasional smiting is performed indirectly, by a set of elemental colossi, but also because Reus’ complex simulation can be rather daunting. God is in the details, it’s true, but he didn’t have to think quite so hard about them.
Each session with Reus starts with a barren, lifeless planet. Order your giants to begin terraforming the land, however, and very soon colonies of humans will appear in the forests, swamps and deserts you’ve created. Villages need wealth, food and technology to grow prosperous. Encourage them to grow and your squad of lumbering giants will gain new abilities, which can in turn can be used to augment and transform the land and resources you’ve already created. You’ll want to do this in order to fulfil your people’s increasingly complex needs – and also to satisfy the requirements for symbioses: the relationships between one resource and another that bestow buffs and bonuses when satisfied. The problem is that these symbioses can be arbitrary to point of forgettable (stoats like being near minerals, apparently), which is disappointing after the initial, organic intuitiveness of, say, raising mountains to make a desert.
There’s an accelerating strategic pace to sessions of Reus. As villages grow and demand ever more resources you need to carefully allocate, transmute and buff resources while maximising their potential symbiosis, and a game that originally offers divine power becomes more about abstract micromanagement. There’s a statistical satisfaction in this, but the lumbering majesty of those beautifully drawn giants is rather lost within it.
Reus is available now on Steam.