Saturday, June 01, 2013


Oh, boy, it has been a while since I've been on here, hasn't it? I've let a lot of stuff slide (sorry, Freaky Fun Friday readers! I promise, the last installment was not the end of that series!).

I blame Reus.

Okay, so it's really my fault. I'm not good at keeping myself motivated, especially when there's a video game to distract me. And Reus (don't ask me how to pronounce it) is an incredible distraction.

The premise is simple: you're a living planet. You are in direct control of four giants (Ocean, Forest, Rock, and Swamp). You use them to create different biomes and place resources (animal, plant, and mineral).

But the giants aren't alone on the planet. There are these pesky things called "humans," and they have a mind of their own. They'll settle anywhere they can find resources and start building special projects. It's up to you to provide the humans what they need so they can build those projects. But at the same time, you also have to keep them in line because, if you don't, they'll turn on you and attack the giants. And you only have 30, 60, or 120 minutes to get as much done as you can.

I've found Reus to be mind-bogglingly addictive, and part of the reason why is the nature of the game. It's a stripped down god-game (think old school Populous) with heavy puzzle elements. Every resource you can place can interact with the stuff next to it. For example, if you place certain animals near minerals, they'll provide more food. Or if you put certain minerals next to plants, those minerals will provide more gold. Part of the challenge is to find the best interaction to help bolster what the humans are up to. And you want the humans to build those projects. Pretty much every time they do, they provide your giants with an "ambassador" that unlocks special powers, allowing the giants to upgrade the resources, leading to more and better interactions that allow the humans to build more and more impressive projects.

Ah, those humans. Love 'em and hate 'em in this game. There literally is no good way to control them (aside from being really careful where you place the resources). They'll sometimes pick odd projects (one of my swamp villages kept trying to build a "Geologist" project, which requires mountains. They were nowhere near a mountain. I finally had to have my Rock Giant destroy the village). And if you give them too many resources too quickly, they'll get greedy. Greed is bad. Greed leads to the villages attacking each other and eventually, the giants.

Not only that, but the game sets unofficial "goals" for each playthrough. For example, one of the goals I'm trying to meet right now is to create a game where all of the villages create 2,000 food together. Meeting those goals unlocks more resources to use in the game (something you also receive the first time the humans build a particular type of project).

Not everything is hunky-dory with this game, however. Figuring everything out is kind of tricky. The game links to a wiki that I've found really helpful, but a lot of what a player does is trial-and-error. That's not necessarily bad, but you have to be careful not to lock yourself into one way of playing.

Also, there are stability issues that have been maddening for me. A few times, my giants have frozen in place and won't take orders. I found an easy fix for that one, but the most recent has really upset me. The game will randomly crash at the same point, over and over. For example, last night, I finally managed to complete some projects that had been eluding me. I had only 15 minutes left in my game. And then it all crashed. I tried reloading from the auto-save, only to have it crash again. And again. And again. Needless to say, I had some unpleasant thoughts about the game.

But that shouldn't stop you from checking out this great game. It's available from a variety of sources and it's only about ten bucks. Well worth the money, believe me!

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