Everyone wants to play god. Come on, admit it. The promise of Godus is your own little slice of a world with your own people that you can shape and grow into a society that you control.
I played the prelaunch version of Godus for, well, more hours than I want to admit. But unfortunately that world wasn’t transferred to the final version. Not too upset about that — I had thought more than once that I’d like to start over. So this release gave me that chance and Godus credited me 100 gems for being an early player.
In Godus the player / god sculpts the land which directs inhabitants to do things like build dwellings, farms, and mines. The goal of the game is to build the largest society possible. But of course the aim of the game itself is to slow your progress down wherever possible. Unfortunately that leads to the first problem with this game — the only adversary in the game is the game itself. The wait while buildings build, then crops grow, and belief charge. You are just playing against time.
There are multiple levels of currency in the game that are needed to progress. The main one is belief — this is the stock currency that allows the god player to sculpt land. It’s generated by citizens and spent way too quickly. Next there’s wheat and ore — resources needed to build certain buildings further into the game. And finally gems — the premium currency that allows things to be sped up. Then there are cards and stickers. It’s all a bit too contrived really.
One of the seemingly illogical things used in the game to slow the player down or squeeze money from them are these resources. At one point, after being awarded a card that let’s wheat be harvested, all of a sudden slow growing wheat is required to build more buildings. Once awarded the right mining cards, ore is required as well to continue building. But before these awards the player can build as many buildings as they wish, after it now requires resources. Seems a bit backwards. I can kinda see where this is coming from, progressing through time and eras requires resources, but it’s all a bit half baked and not explained well at all.
In addition to the main farming game, there are also side quests that are puzzle versions of the main game. Sculpting and directing players over a landscape avoiding hazards to get to a temple. Most a pretty simple, but some of them can be difficult to complete in the allotted time. Completing one awards one or two stickers that help progress the game.
In general I think it’s bad form to judge a game based on what was promised and not just what the game is when it’s released. Things can change in software development, and they certainly have with Godus. But in this specific case, the game was pre-sold via Kickstarter to the tune of nearly a million dollars. Since it was pre-sold, missing features are fair game. Here’s a list of some of the biggest missing features.
Desktop and Mobile cross play — promised and shown as late as March this year, desktop and mobile cross play was an interesting way to keep a world going. We even saw it in action at one point. But it’s not there, likely a contractual cut from sad Mobage integration.
Multiplayer — “you’ll engage in pitched battles with other gods and their cults. It’s a multiplayer power-struggle the way it should be.” The promise was that all players would be playing on a single large “Jupiter sized” world and would eventually bump into each other and stuff would happen. Nope. Instead every player is in their own instance and a computer controlled indigenous people exist. But the promises of potential war, etc. are not there yet.
Every player would start with a unique world (or part of the larger world). Nope. Every player starts with the same stock world, not procedurally generated. Though the procedural generation was implied. The stock world can then be uniquely changed after the start of the game.
Never before seen in-app purchase scheme that doesn’t compromise play was promised. Nope. Just gems that speed up wait timers – like every other game out there. And wait and resource timers — yeah, those are my definition of compromised play.
Finally, while not a missed feature, a bit of insincere grandstanding by the designer of Godus should be called out. Mr. Molyneux had vocally skewered the Dungeon Keeper release from EA as Touch Arcade points out — for the very same traits that Godus exhibits.
In the end, Godus must be judged against what it could and should be, but is not. We were promised a god game with never before seen features. What we got is a beautiful looking farming game engine with a standard gem system and wait timers. All with the buggy implementation of the Mobage system wedged in for no good reason. What is missing is everything that would have made this the very unique game that we were hoping for. What we are left with is just a mediocre farming game that is beautiful yet not very interesting.
Not all is lost. At the heart there is a really good, even revolutionary game engine here. But at some point it was massively corrupted by the desire to make it free to play and many missed deadlines. You can tell that wasn’t the end goal as 22 Cans even makes fun of free to play in the PC version — calling it “dirty.” My suggestion for 22Cans is to pull the game, fix the bugs, convert it to a paid game, add the features promised, and re-release it when it’s the game they wanted to deliver.