Blogger’s Choice: Reus Game Review

June 12, 2013 in Blogger's Choice, Game Review, Godgame, PC, Simulation

A 2d side scrolling “godgame” that shares some similar concepts with one of my most favorite games of all time, Black and White 2. However, instead of having totally devout humans, in Reus, no matter how benevolent you are, greed may make them turn on you and each other. Such is human nature.

ATTENTION: Congratulations to the two winners of the giveaway contest! It was really hard to decide who to pick. I decided to have 2 winners instead of one because everyone had such wonderful entries! If you didn’t get an email by now, I encourage you to try again on the next giveaways =).


An Indie “godgame” Review Developed by: Abbey Games


My village is still a baby~ (Restarted 5x)

NOTICE: Interview with one of the developers will be at the end of the review before the giveaway contest questions. Personally, I found the developer’s answers inspirational. Personally, it gave me the nudge I need to finally start working on my own indie game. I also found that it can be applied to life challenges. 


Shoutout of Gratitude: I want to thank the developers of Reus for making it possible to host this giveaway and for the interview. Thank you for giving this new blogger your time even though I knew you guys were probably having a very busy and hectic week since I contacted you guys around the time you just launched. I also want to say I’m so happy with all the positive feedbacks you’ve received and want to say this is one of my favorite games to play at the moment. Hugs to you all!

What got me interested: I’m actually a huge fan of godgames. I just absolutely love them!  I like having the power over civilizations and taking care of them with all the kindness and love every benevolent gods bestow upon their people. I also love to save the game, then start smiting left and right as I maniacally laugh in front of my computer which  not only baffles those by me, but I was told it also scared them. As mentioned, I love Black and White 2, and I still believe to this day nothing can really compare to that game when it comes to the godgame genre. I’ve been looking around the internet and waiting for a game that will even come close to BW2. Seems like my patience paid off with this game. It didn’t only gave me a BW2 nostalgia but it also gave me a whole new experience which I totally appreciate because as much as I love BW2, I still also yearn for something that’s different and can stand on it’s own. I personally think Reus has that capability.


First Impression and Gameplay

This opening scene made me aww...then it made me all grrr towards my fellow humans.

This opening scene made me aww…then it made me all grrr towards my fellow humans.

The Opening Scene

I want to talk about the opening scene first because I really think it’s something worth watching. The artstyle for me was personally cute with it’s caveman/child-like drawings, but the story it conveys is a serious issue and I think, something to be seen because it is true. What I mean is, even though we don’t really have giants magically terraforming the earth to help us, we ARE still hurting mother nature with our greed for resource. I know I may sound like a “hippie” or “tree hugger” but we are over harvesting and over using natural resources faster than the time earth can recuperate and as the opening scene shows, when civilizations gets greedy, we do wage war against neighbors. I understand some people may say, well it’s just an opening scene, calm the heck down. However, I really appreciate that it shows those things and the game’s mechanics covers that. It makes it more real for me.


Reus opted for a 2D side scrolling graphic style which I actually found lovely, clean, and refreshing. If you guys played that iphone game called Godfinger, it will remind you of that. I personally like it this way because you focus more on the game content than “beastly” graphics. Plus, just look at the giants!!! I want one…

:I I really hope they make little plushies because I would totally collect em' all

:I I really hope they make little plushies because I would totally collect em’ all

My Personal Opinion Concerning The HUD and Font Size

This is my personal issue, maybe others also have it, but I find the font too small that it strains my eyes after a little bit. I do however like the game’s HUD because I find it informative yet it’s still clean. What I mean is that some complex games tend to overdo it with the information they try to cram on the screen and it can be overwhelming to new players. I’ve actually met people who quit the game they want to play just by staring at HUDs like that. Reus may not be complex to some, but the ones I’ve talked to who played the game told me it is, so this is something they probably appreciate. Another thing is, feel free to correct me if I missed it; is that there seem to be no indicator whether symbiosis and specialization is active or not. I only know it is because I try to remember how much each things originally gave (food, wealth, tech) and then I check if they’re higher. To those who have not played Reus, this may be confusing, but don’t worry I’ll break it down for ya in a bit.


I really super duper highly suggest you go through the tutorial before going through freeplay. First, you won’t be able to play the other modes anyway until you play some of the tutorial first. Second, you will probably miss a lot of important information about the game’s mechanics that could ultimately help your settlers thrive such as taking advantage of symbiosis and specializations. Lastly, because the game can get complex, the tutorial will give you a nice breakdown of how the game works.

The Giants

You can pretty much see the influence Black and White 2 gave the game in terms of using Giants to do the Gods/Goddesses wishes. I want to make clear however, that that’s pretty much where the similarities end. You’ll find in the interview that the game, and I’m guessing the use of giants as well; was also influenced by this awesome short story animation (which was the inspiration of the game, ya’ll should watch it). Now, couple things about these cute giants. First is that each giants have their own type of terraforming depending on what kind of giants they are, such as: Swamp, Ocean, Mountain, and Forest. The other thing is, you must have each giant work together to really help the settlers prosper in their civilization.

Here they are in case you guys want to see how they look like:

Ocean Giant

Ocean Giant in all it’s crabby glory!

Mountain Giant

Mountain Giant! I just noticed he got photobombed here

Swamp Giant

Swamp Giant! One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I want to make it mine!

Forest Giant

Forest Giant! Forever ready for pictures with that smile

As you progress in the game, your giants gain new “aspects”. Aspects are basically abilities that “buffs up” the floras, faunas, and minerals you plopped down  in a number of ways, such as giving it another trait. Ex: Enhancing a peppermint tree with the “herb” aspect would give it the “food” trait. Not only that, if you used the right aspect on whatever it is you’re using it on, it may even give it the power of transmutation (you’ll read about transmutation below).


These are buildings that can be built in settlements by meeting the projects’ requirements and they usually come with a time limit. Finishing projects can make an ambassador appear. Certain aspects can only be unlocked by certain ambassadors (like swamp ambassador, ocean ambassador, etc.) They basically upgrade your giants.

That building right there is a  finished project

That building right there is a finished project

I'm jealous of the ambassador. My favorite giant too =(

I’m jealous of the ambassador. My favorite giant too =(


Game Mechanics:


Transmuted floras, faunas, and minerals changes what they originally were physically and even biologically. So think of it as a buff up variant of it’s former different self. An example would be transmuting a peppermint into a tomato or transmuting a chicken into a rabbit. The transformation also gives them different symbiosis and abilities.


This is something that you really have to take advantage off in order to help your settlers thrive to its fullest potential. Basically it is like a bonus effect when you place certain floras, faunas, minerals, or buildings (projects) by others that they can have symbiosis with. For example: Placing a peppermint tree by a mineral yields +7 bonus in technology for every mineral by it. As stated above, transmuted plants, animals, and minerals also end up with different symbiosis from their former selves.

Transmutation and Symbiosis Window

Transmutation and Symbiosis Window


It’s pretty much like a project’s version of symbiosis. Scientific Fun Fact: Symbiosis scientifically pertains to biologically different organisms living on each other’s beastness. Like how anemones give clown fishies homes and protection with their sting of doom and in turn, the clown fishies poopies give the anemones…nomnoms. The anemones basically eat Nemo doodoo D:.


Like in many civilizations throughout history…people go cray cray for wealth and become greedy. This will cause villages to attack neighboring villages. If they become too greedy, we have no choice but to smite them so this will wipe out the entire village. There will be an indicator on just how greedy a village currently is so keep on a lookout for that.

Greed indicator

Greed indicator

Final Verdict

If you’re like me who’s been looking for a decent godgame, I would hands down recommend Reus. It doesn’t only takes us back to godgames we loved playing back in the day, but it also gives us something different along with a bit more complexity than other games that share the same genre like BW2. Personally speaking, in terms of game mechanics, I prefer Reus over BW2 which surprised me. Unlike my favorite game BW2 where I only need to focus on protecting and caring  for my civilization or tormenting them when I feel like it; in Reus, I’m forced to keep tabs on whether one of my villages is getting too greedy and about start a war against another village under my care. The game’s mechanics also gave me the opportunity to maximize my villages potential for growth through symbiosis and specialization forcing me to be more cautious about my villages borders and the placements of my faunas, floras, minerals, and projects. It requires more planning which I like because it gives me a challenge. I also have more options with how I want to raise my villages and can even have them specialize in either food, wealth, or tech which I really like. This is a game that truly needs to be tried.


Steam, Desura, Gamersgate, $9.99

For more game reviews Game Breakdown Reviews: Released/Beta/Alpha


Interview with The Developer

Were there any inspiration for creating the game in this style aesthetically? if not, what made you decide to go about this way?
Yes! This movie was very much an inspiration for both the design and the art style. I don’t think the audio was inspired by it, but you can read about the composer’s progress in our blog:
What games inspired you to create Reus and it’s contents?
For the theme there were of course several other god games: Populous, Black and White and From Dust. In the start our lead designer Adriaan also drew inspiration from Football Manager as we were still thinking about customizing giant teams. In the end we also drew inspiration from The Binding of Isaac for the meta-game. We really liked the unlock mechanics in that game and it helped us design the rather unique (at least we think so) metagame of Reus.
Did you have significant roadblocks/challenges upon making the game? if so what were they?
As you may know we started the company with four computer scientists. This isn’t the obvious role distribution, but as one of us could draw really well, we thought we were fine. How naïve we were. A really important roadblock was the lack of artists. As we came to realize, Reus needed a LOT of content art-wise, while we had noone to produce such amounts. We worked hard to find good artist freelancers and interns and this is how we solved that problem in the end. Another problem we encountered during the entire first three quarters of the project was project planning. We had never worked on such a large project with such diverse people who worked weird times (about 15 people worked part-time on Reus).
Any future plans for the game that’s okay to reveal?
Yeah sure! Right now our first priorities are to port the game to Mac and Linux and localize it to several languages with community help. In the meanwhile we’re also working on a free content patch. We are really thankful for the community’s response, and we feel it’s nice to support their experience for a while longer. For future plans on Reus we’re listening a lot to the community. What do they think is missing in the game, or could make it a lot better? Further than that, we have no plans. We really have a lot of options now, and we’ll have to decide what the Abbey wants, before working on any next game.
Did the team have prior experience in creating a game like Reus or was the game a whole new adventure for you guys?
It was a totally new adventure for us all. We knew from the start that Reus would be ambitious, and lots of nice folks advised against it. In the end Reus was even bigger than we’d expected it to be, and we were certainly not ready to do it. Fortunately, due to lots of support by colleagues, friends and the Dutch Game Garden, we learned a lot of important things very fast, allowing us to finally successfully complete Reus.
How was the experience of creating a complex “god game” like Reus
Everybody did things they have never done before. It is empowering to work in that way. There were certainly moments that development was really demotivating, but you just have to work through them, and communicate any problems you have. All in all, we wouldn’t have done it any other way, taking into account the knowledge we had at the time.
Any advice for aspiring indie developers who also want to create games of the same genre?
Specifically for god games: try to really pinpoint the experience you’re going for. Lot’s of god games are just RTS games with really powerful spells and sometimes units. As we noticed during the marketing campaign, god games can be many different things and as such each person expects a different game. We made some mistakes here, but it is very important that everybody knows which type of game they can expect, so  that you reach your audience early and don’t disappoint people who expect differently. In fact, this is important for whichever game you’re creating.
What do you guys like to do on your spare time when not in beast mode, developing games?
What do you mean, spare time? No :P Really we have worked double full-time in the last few weeks. But in the earlier stages we did many different things. Some of us are still studying, so that takes up some time. Most people play games at home, and just hang out with friends that don’t talk about Reus all the time. Our Abbey is in the middle of Utrecht, a very nice city that has lot’s of nice places to chill out for a little while. Oh, and one very important thing is foosball. We play foosball every break of every day, and we’re getting really good at it.




Win yourself or a friend a copy of the game! Just answer the following questions below. The most creative will win. Good luck everyone!


  • If you were a god or goddess, would you be a malevolent or a benevolent and what would be your master plan.
  • What would you do with your powers? How would you affect your humans lives?