Godus

If you haven’t seen Godus yet, give it a look right now: http://godus.gamepedia.com/Godus_Wiki  

Available on the i-pad and also on steam, Godus is a charming god game from Peter Molyneaux and 22Cans.  While the game feels finished, it is still in development and is available in early access.  Take what you will from opinions on a game at this stage in development.

Is it Pretty?
Oh dear Godus yes!  This is one of the most pretty games I’ve seen on the iPad, period.  The water ripples away against a simple, but solidly designed landscape full of charming little trees and buildings.  The squished up farmsteads are particularly appealing, reminding me of hill villages in central Turkey.  The little people are full of character in form and animation, despite being designed as blank slates with no overt features.  The sound is mostly a tapestry of ambience and effects, but yet another charming feature is the little tune you play by collecting belief from your followers.

The only issue I have with the look of the game is that I’m forced to make the landscape more boring, by flattening it, in order to get the most resources out of it.

GGG_PS_Godus001

Is it Fair?
This is a little less plain.  At first glance, the male and female models are charmingly distinct, yet not overly gendered.  The only hiccup I came across were the farmers.  There’s only one model for them and they read, to my eye, as male.  Likewise the barbarians.  It’s a small thing, but it breeds the feeling that male is the default in an otherwise very balanced world.

I haven’t come across any variation on race in terms of skin tone and hair colour.  The non player competitive people, the Astari, are an old fashioned mock barbarian style with what looks like voodoo masks.  I find this kind of shorthand for ‘the other’ problematic and lazy, but shorthand it is, and I haven’t noticed anything in particular to suggest that the Astari are lesser people than my own.  In fact, people can move between the Astari and my tribe depending on where they’re happier.  The only difference seems to be that my people have a god, and the Astari have a lot of parties.

GGG_PS_Godus002

Is it Fun?
At first, I enjoyed the game immensely.  The mechanics on the ipad’s touch screen are simple to grasp and immediately rewarding.  You pull out layers of land to allow your people to move about, or to create a space on which they can build a house.

Charming graphics and clever mechanics aside, however, it didn’t engage me for long. The pacing starts out well and then slows progressively, making it less and less rewarding to spend time in your world. Things I could do with a click near the start of a game, suddenly require resources or take much longer. It breaks that simple rule in game design that it’s never good to take something away. It felt like I got less and less powerful as the game went on. There’s also a micro transaction system that felt more like an annoying door to door salesman than an illicit temptation, although I haven’t played the PC version, which I don’t think follows the same model.

001_Comic_Godus of Temptation

It’s the hard sell tactic that drove me away.

Conclusion
Godus is still early access, but so far it’s hitting all the wrong notes. The beautiful visuals and mechanics make me want to see this succeed, but they’d nearly want to throw the pacing out the window and start from scratch with a basic level design ethos.

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