Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on Playstation 4 and PC.
As you may have noticed at some point of your gaming life, the market is filled with simulator titles nowadays, and I usually check as many as I can since some manage to offer deep strategy and challenging resource management, which I’m always down for. This time around I tried Reus, but I’m afraid that it wasn’t quite the game for me.
Originally released three years ago, Reus was recently made available for both current-generation consoles. The game’s main objective is no other than adapting an empty planet with optimal conditions to create and maintain life. For this purpose, you are in fully control of a tiny selection of not-so-mighty gods such as the rock, swamp, ocean and forest giants. Each of them has a rather limited toolkit to shape and transform the planet.
The first hour will be a tedious journey through an unavoidable tutorial, which is totally necessary to be honest. But all things considered, it could also potentially keep you away from the game sooner rather than later. Nobody likes large and forced tutorials, I even dare to bet that’s a universal truth.
I felt the controls were a bit confusing and weird at first. Unfortunately, this sensation will last long enough to become an issue, and the user interface doesn’t help either. At times, controls didn’t seem to respond, and the text intended to give advice to players or show the next mandatory step wasn’t displaying properly due to another message showing on top.
This game plays much more like a puzzle title than a simulator. You just need to fit and combine certain plants, animals or minerals in order to complete projects just to see a fairly simple AI “civilization” rise, grow and fight each other. That’s it. I was expecting more depth but that wasn’t the case.
There is indeed a certain “challenge” with these puzzles since the terrain is limited by the village borders, but there’s no clever way to go around it; you will repeat a slow process of using symbiosis, aspects and transformations to your advantage over and over, which are just confusing names this game gives to the mechanics used for solving the said puzzles. That’s the challenge. Are you willing to spend your treasured time? I’m not because I wanted more.
Having numbers and indicator levels around the screen shouldn’t be enough to put a game into the simulator category. In my humble opinion, simulators are meant to be more than what I experienced when playing Reus. It is a must for this genre to offer a solid amount of possibilities; of course, the more the better.
Where are the long-term effects for a certain past action? Nowhere. In fact, “consequences” (mankind behaviour—allegedly—based on your terraforming decisions) seem to be either random or scripted, completely killing the few and weak simulation experience that was left.
Let there be life, and…wait for it…a bit more… it’s almost here…there was life. That’s pretty much my way of letting you know how slow Reus actually feels. There is no fast-forward time button, and I believe I’m right to say almost every simulator has this optional but helpful option.
Almost everything that can be improved in this game is directly related to time. Ability cool downs should be decreased or even removed since giants are extremely slow moving from one place to another too. I also missed some way of real interaction with mankind or at least a motivation to care about them. I must admit Reus’ basic concept has huge potential but it has been clearly wrongly executed. I would be looking forward to see Reus 2 as long as heavy changes are made. The game desperately needs more interactivity with the humans which pop up on the surface.