Ten months ago, 22Cans launched a kickstarter for their next game entitled ‘Project GODUS’. As the brainchild of Peter Molyneux, there was an expectation that he would make many promises on what fans could expect on the upcoming game, though for the most part he attempted to restrain himself this time. That came to a stop with the end of 22Cans first game, Curiosity, where Peter revealed the prize that the winner had obtained and how it was relevant to Godus.
Godus got a Steam early access release on September 13th. The game is advertised as currently being 40% complete, and it looks like it is mostly finished mechanically and only needs additional content. What there is to try right now seems to live up to the prototype video that was used in the kickstarter, though the game is single-player unless a player chooses to engage an opponent in a multiplayer battle.
The game begins on an island with two followers who begin building a hut. The player cannot control any of the population in the game, merely the terrain around them. There is no tutorial in Godus, though it quickly becomes obvious how the game works. A flag rises from the solitary hut signalling that a new follower has been born there and is ready to serve the player. A click on the hut will thrust him into the world where he will attempt to build another dwelling an increase the population further. A few more houses later, and the available land is consumed. This is where terrain manipulation come into play.
There is a sand bar under the sea that like the starting island to another. By clicking and dragging the edge of the island, a path can be formed that links the two islands together, increasing the space for new development. This is what a player will spend the majority of the time doing. New land must be raised up out of the sea, hills must be flattened, and the ground must be made level so that the ever increasing population can expand to new housing. A players ability to manipulate the world is limited by the amount of faith they have. This resource is generated by their population in the form of purple spheres above houses. Early houses generate faith little and often, but larger dwellings generate it slower and in greater quantities.
Eventually, the player will encounter an area of land that is beyond their ability to control. The land inside a players sphere of influence is brightly coloured, but outside it is dull and white. Followers need to find and convert shrines to increase the amount of land that a player has to work in. When converted, these shrines will award players a land card and open up a new area to work in. Cards are the primary way through which a player earns anything in the game. Achieving a population goal will often give the player a new society or science card. By themselves, these cards do little, but scattered throughout the world are chests that contain resources cards necessary to activate the growth cards. When enough growth cards are activated, the civilisation is advanced into a new age.
Early on, there is a giant shrine to be found. This event shrine opens some quirky AI characters to battle against and show how multiplayer games work. Another of the giant shrines need to be found to play against other human opponents. Battles send the player to a new map with a clear goal. This could be mining the most resources, building the largest population, or just decimating the opponent in a limited amount of time. Winning these awards the player more cards, including resources, and helps advance the game.
The world is quite large, though like Populous, only a small section can be viewed at a given time. Zooming out is an option, though it does not increase the amount of viewable space. The graphics are unlikely to tax older computers. As a civilisation advances, the appearance of new houses changes to match the society. There are some graphical issues with panning the camera too close to the edge of the map.
So far it is not obvious how the God of Godus will interact with other players in the game, or how his decisions will shape it. There are many other issues for the team to work on yet before the game is complete, first of which should be the faith system. Tying a players ability to shape the world to the amount of followers they have is all well and good, but having to stop work on a major project every few minutes to gather more faith is frustrating. Anyone thinking of purchasing this game should be aware that it is possible that progress could be lost while the beta is ongoing.