Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Reus by Abbey Games.
I remembered seeing Reus pop up a few times in various Steam sales, and it always caught my attention — the bright colors and large characters looked really neat. Now that I’ve had the chance to jump into it on PS4, I still think it looks neat, but it ended up being one of those times when something isn’t at all what you thought it would be.
Basically, Reus is a god game… manage the ecosystem, help the people prosper and so on.
Things begin with an empty planet, and the planet itself summons giant golems of various types in order to enact its will. The water golem (which looks like a giant crab) creates oceans, the forest golem creates trees, and so on. They all have a slew of abilities that unlock over time, although some are a bit head-scratching. Not sure why the water golem creates wildlife on land, for example.
Anyway, while screenshots may suggest that the golems are actively doing things, that’s not the case. Instead, the player will cursor over specific parts of the land and give orders, and then the golems will trundle over and do that action. It’s fine enough, though a bit disappointing that actively controlling the golems isn’t an option.
Things begin simply – dig an ocean, plant a forest, raise a mountain. All good, but things soon get complicated, and what looks like a clean, engaging experience then becomes about reading a lot of text, figuring out menus, and managing a lot of resources.
Once I realized how much of Reus was about making sure villagers had enough mineral ore to create a granary tower, I lost interest.
Part of the trouble is that the tutorial is wretched — it’s the sort of intro that says a lot of things without actually showing the player how to do them, and the fact that text boxes frequently overlap each other and some hint popups disappear before the player gets a chance to read them… It’s not a great start.
Before I was ready, Reus was asking me to create ‘symbioses’ between chicken nests and apple trees, and then out of nowhere I’m supposed to figure out how to generate enough resources to let tiny villagers build a village in a desert that I created because I’m–not-sure-why. I didn’t have a grasp on the fundamentals before the game wanted me to charge ahead into busywork that didn’t hold any meaning for me, and at that point I made my exit.
I still think Reus looks like a great time, but it is absolutely for sure not my kind of thing.