Remember Curiosity? You know, that game Peter Molyneux made when he went completely loopy which involved people blasting apart a cube to unveil a cool prize within? Yeah, that. Anyway, you may remember that a few months ago the cube was opened, and the prize was the chance to be the God of all the other players in 22Cans’ newest game, Godus. Thus, here we find ourselves.
Godus is, from the outset, clearly a Molyneux production. Although Fable was at best an ambitious failure, 22Cans’ founder is undoubtedly the master of the god game. From Populous through Black and White to now, he’s consistently created engaging, addictive mechanics that hook the player in and don’t let go.
The setup is remarkably simple in its setup, but the devil is in the detail. Initially, the only power your deity has is to expand/contract layers of land and to remove obstacles with a mouse click. Land is distributed in layers, some of which are underwater and each level of land can only lie on the area covered by the one underneath. When clear, flat land is available, your followers will build houses to create more followers. They must be kept healthy by clicking on them and given work by building more houses. This sounds simple, but after a while it can become maddeningly difficult to keep track of over a hundred followers who are constantly ill.
By uncovering buried treasure through land manipulation, resources are collected and used to advance your burgeoning civilisation, who can then produce new kinds of buildings. As the game goes on, their land needs expand but with that comes increased production of the points used to carry out god-like actions, which later expand to include various idols to inspire religious fervour in your followers.
It’s by no means a perfect game – it can be frustratingly difficult to keep some settlers alive, the world-manipulation controls are dodgy and there’s a very real chance you’ll break your keyboard in half when you inadvertently destroy a good chunk of your civilisation with a badly-timed double click. However, allowances can be made for beta software and we’d hope that 22Cans will be taking these problems into account in future updates.
There’s another fundamental problem with Godus though – it’s just quite shallow. Part of the joy of god games is watching the followers develop a civilisation, and here it feels like all you’re doing is manipulating ants. It’s easy enough to say that more content will be coming in future updates, but the problem isn’t lack of content, it’s just that the content on offer is not particularly deep or meaningful, and with a price tag of £14.99 it just doesn’t feel worth it.
Now whether these issues are corrected for the final release is up to the folks at 22Cans. Godus has a fantastic concept and a good pedigree behind it – but for all the hype, it may yet fall short.