Not quite godly yet
Peter Molyneux: the man who launched a million dreams. My early PC gaming days consisted of Theme Park, Theme Hospital, Populous, Black & White, and many more Molyneux classics. The British designer didn’t just envision slick management titles, occasionally with a god-based twist – he created playgrounds for participants to explore, and play styles to evolve.
The general consensus is that people have a lot less pleasant words to say about the veteran designer these days, following years of hollow promises. Godus is Molyneux’s way back in – his first real release as part of an independent studio, his independent studio – since his Lionhead and Microsoft days. You can definitely still feel that classic Molyneux magic stored away somewhere in this god game, ready to burst forth and engulf many hours of your life… but in its current beta state, there’s still a hell of a lot of work to be done.
It’s your classic “little people need your help, and you are a giant mouse pointer” scenario, as Molyneux himself set out so many years ago. The beginnings of a civilization are scattered across a small island, all looking for a means of survival – and you are that means. By terraforming the land, you’re able to provide your people with resources to build up an empire, and spread far and wide.
As you clear away space in the land, tapping down rocks and trees and allowing for flat plains to emerge, your people will automatically begin putting together huts. Once they’ve moved in, they’ll start earning you belief points, which can then be spent on more terraforming. You’ll also be able to spawn even more citizens, who can then go and build more houses – and so on and so forth.
Your progression is pitched through collectible cards. You’ll find cards hidden away in the land, from leveling up through expansion, or from battling other civilizations. These cards go into a collection book, and once you’ve collected enough cards to meet the requirements for your current “age,” your civilization will evolve to the next stage of life.
Godus has a lovely aura to it. The visuals are a little clumsy-looking at first, with stacks of land clumped on top of one another – but I definitely warmed to them eventually, especially when coupled with the calm, soothing soundscape. Popping the belief bubbles and tapping the house flags is particularly fun to listen to, as they play out short ditties through plinks and plonks.
Unfortunately, this is the only pro point about clicking on the houses. In fact, Godus features far too much clicking for its own good. You’re constantly clicking on belief bubbles, citizen flags, land around treasure chests, wolves, people – anything and everything essentially, and it becomes a massive pain in the neck after a short while.
What this boils down to is that Godus doesn’t really come with a huge amount of actual gameplay. You spend all of your time clicking to make space in the land, then clicking to collect enough belief so that you can make even more space in the land, then clicking to make more citizens who can make houses in the land, then clicking to make more space in the land… Is it fun? In its current Early Access state, not really.
The battles exemplify this. You’re pitted against a fellow god and his or her civilization, and it’s a case of whoever can build up the biggest army and charge at the opposing civ in the quickest space of time wins. There are no tactics or clever wranglings – it’s super simple and extremely casual stuff, with barely any real gameplay to be found.
But it isn’t just the clicking that’s an issue. Terraforming the land isn’t as fun as it could be, thanks to the fiddliness of it all. You can either drag the land, or double click it to add and take away – but it often jumps in directions you didn’t want, or rolls in and destroys your buildings without much notice. For a game so centred on manipulating the world you govern, the tools you are provided with ain’t so hot.
Godus has only recently launched as a beta build, of course, so there’s plenty of time for 22Cans to build on the base concept. The team has actually responded to criticisms in the last week, stating that it knows there is far too much clicking involved, and that it is planning to reduce this heavily. This can only be a good thing, and fair play to the team for listening to Godus players, and following through.
For now, though, it isn’t really worth getting to grips with Godus. We’d suggest you wait a while longer for a fuller version to emerge – we’ll give you the green light when that becomes the case. But in the meantime, if you’re still eager to give the game a try for yourself, then Godus can currently be purchased in its Early Access beta build over on Steam.