I don’t know if you have succumbed to the allure and power of the Steam Summer Sale yet, but I got hit bad last week. If the preceding sentence makes no sense to you and seems like childish gibberish, consider yourself lucky. It’s basically like crack to your close gamer/nerd friends. Right now, most of your gamer friends are probably trying to figure out how many meals they can replace with instant noodles without suffering too much. Have pity on them and maybe buy them a beer.
Thankfully, there were plenty of good deals that didn’t completely bankrupt me. Among them was a nice, inexpensive little indie gem, Reus. Even without the sale, it is still a pretty good deal and well worth the investment of time and money. I highly recommend it. Of course, as I was testing it out, two things stood out about the game and obviously, I had to write a post on the educational potential. Remember, SPOILERS ahead.
The game is pretty simple. You control (play as?) four gods who are essentially elementals. Each one has specific abilities that you must use intelligently to terraform the planet you are on. However, no one god can do so by him/herself (unclear if the “gods” have genders or not) as each one is limited to a single element. For example, if you want to create forests or harvests for food, you need the Forest Giant. Want lakes, rivers, etc. you’ll need to use the Ocean Giant. In other words, you must use your full team effectively.
It’s an obvious life lesson of teamwork and being able to work with diverse tools, people, and circumstances. Unlike other games, you actually have to understand and use each god/Giant to be able to advance and win the game. Without each one, you won’t get ahead. Most games, and gamers, that have supposed teams and teamwork missions end up simply ordering the non-primaries to complete a mission or being able to advance by just relying on your favorite player. Reus does not allow the player to get off so easy. You must learn the interplay of characters and abilities; otherwise, you lose.
Another interesting and intriguing mechanic is the inclusion of people in the game. This may seem like a minor detail or element, but in many ways it makes the game. You see, the villagers/townspeople/humans react to the Giant’s actions. They can either praise or revile any of the Giants depending on the actions they perform. The best part is that there is really no way to alter humanity’s interest or perception of the Giants.
You must find the right balance between humanity’s desires, interests, and advances and the Giants’ will to terraform and alter the planet. Like most things in life finding a balance, in this case between nature and technological/economic advances, is tantamount to success. Keep the people happy and nature working. One feeds the other without overtaking one another. Keep the balance; keep the peace.
Thus endeth today’s lessons.