You Should Play: Godus

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Godus is, frankly, a god-simulator game by veteran developer Peter Molyneux and his studio 22cans, widely known for Black and White, Dungeon Keeper, and Populous. (Godus is considered the spiritual successor of the latter.) In my experience, Molyneux’s games tend to be highly addicting, with great world-building strategy, long gameplay experiences, and sometimes-wonky controls. Godus is just such a game, which is the good and bad news. While the gameplay is deep and the world is alluring and quirky, the freemium aspects of the game and less-than-divine controls may damn your experience.


You play as a deity trying to expand your following by creating a civilization. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Godus is ideally suited for numerous (and lengthy) play sessions. The initial few hours will slowly introduce you to the land-sculpting mechanic while simultaneously complicating the resource gathering aspects, until the game becomes a complex and vast experience.

It’s an intriguing concept, and stands out for three more reasons:

Followers in your own image: One of my favorite aspects of Godus is the exceptional art aesthetic. I’ve played Molyneux’s Black and White series for the PC, but I’d never consider the art style to be anything particularly beyond standard real-time strategery fare. But Godus uses a blocky, layered approach. This means the entire world is depicted in layers—from sandy beaches to grass to seabeds—that you can then shape. Meanwhile, your followers are adorable little blocky creations that remind me of characters straight out of a Pixar film. (They have a tendency to add “um” to everything they say. I don’t know why, but hearing these guys say “build-um!” is just funny to me.) 

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The overall effect is something that looks way better than I’d expect on my iPhone 4. It would look much better, I imagine, and provide a richer experience, on an iPad, or even an iPhone 5S. 

From the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to beyond: Your civilization starts out small, with nothing more than a couple of followers who procreate in huts and then build, which slowly grows their population. As your civilization grows, you’ll earn cards, which grant your civilization new abilities like better buildings, faster build times, and the ability to generate worship, which then helps you shape the land. These cards need to be unlocked through “stickers,” which can be found throughout the land or earned by accomplishing certain goals, like having your population hit 75 people.

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Godus, like Black and White, essentially tries to balance divine superpowers (like land shaping) with mayoral duties (like ordering construction). The balance isn’t perfect, as there are certain times when the game leans too heavily on the land shaping aspect or you feel like an overburdened mayor with a resource gathering/building problem. But by then, you’re already several hours into the game and hopefully enjoying yourself.

Voyage to exotic lands, meet new people…: And kill them. Well, not really. Ultimately, the goal is to grow—not kill—and to have your civilization be the strongest around. The game introduces mechanics beyond the standard freemium city building (which yes, will often require you to wait for a while or pay money). These mechanics include voyages, where you have a boatload of followers who must seek out temple goals along various islands, thereby picking up bonuses and new technologies. However, there is a catch—the only thing you can do to guide them is to shape the land around them, which can be tricky when there’s a countdown timer or enemies on the island. And your followers are complete morons, who will march headfirst into death if you don’t do anything. Frustration is common, as the game’s shaping mechanic can be a wonky at times, but these segments are short, challenging, and ultimately, fairly rewarding. 

Godus doesn’t always succeed with what it does, but the ambition is commendable. The voyages break up the city building, which again, becomes increasingly complex when aspects like happiness and enemy tribes start moving in.

It doesn’t matter whether you feel the game is too handicapped by its controls and freemium model, or if you feel the game is an addictive, clever, and funny strategy game that has no peers on iOS. Either way, Godus is a game you should play, or at least give it a chance.

Developer: 22cans
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: Free

This story, "You Should Play: Godus" was originally published by TechHive.

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