After messing around with giant cubes and social experiments, the famously eccentric game designer Peter Molyneux returns to the God game genre with Godus. This spiritual successor to Molyneux’s earlier game, Populous, is currently in beta on PC and has just soft launched on the New Zealand App Store. We let absolute power corrupt us absolutely in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Witness and shape the beginning of human history in Godus. As a benevolent deity, players will guide their followers from a single hut on a beach at the dawn of time up until around the Roman Empire, although the game could certainly continue from there. The main way to achieve this is by molding the Earth and allowing the population to expand. It’s almost sad mowing down thick forests to let humanity proliferate like a virus, but such is life. There don’t seem to be any threats to the tiny citizens, like predators or natural disasters, so players can just focus on reproduction. As the population grows, the player’s godly power increases – granting them new skills like the ability to shift oceans or terraform more parts of the single, continuous map.
The game unsurprisingly has numerous subsystems as well. More intense god powers, including burning bushes or controlling followers directly through “leashing,” draw from the belief of worshippers. Players naturally gain belief as their small world grows, but it can be purchased using the game’s real-money gem system as well. Players can also purchase sticker packs to activate the special cards they receive with each level up. These cards bestow various bonuses like faster building speeds or the ability to start settlements on different terrain. Fortunately, stickers appear naturally in the world too.
As more of the cold, unconquered North gives way to the player’s bright civilization, players will encounter ships and beacons allowing them to interact with other players online. In fact, the grand prize for finishing 22Can’s previous game Curiosity was becoming the God of Gods in Godus, along with a share of the profits. However, in many ways the game works best as an isolated experience, an entire little world unto itself.
That shoebox diorama quality is accentuated by the game’s almost paper cut-out art style. The solid colors and obvious layers of the landscape may not be realistic, but they’re charming. The same goes for the cute sound effects like the mysterious voices on the wind and the happy little tunes villagers whistle while they work. The distinct layers also make it easier for players to meticulously sculpt the land as they see fit. They can even make terraced steps out of the Earth for followers to climb to higher places, when their spotty path finding works that is. However, it is still a little too easy for fatter fingers to make unintended changes, which is especially annoying when those accidental changes waste precious belief.
Still, Godus successfully captures both the tedium and the power trip of what being an all-knowing, all-powerful force must feel like. Players can get their hands on a world of their own when the game fully launches.
It’s not exactly a secret that Peter Molyneux/22cans deity simulator, Godus is coming to iOS. However, we were able to learn about a few more specifics here at GDC.
Godus was really designed with mobile in mind from the beginning, and it shows when watching the game in motion. “My passion has been to reinvent a genre of games I stumbled upon back in the early 90s called Populous,” said Peter Molyneux, “I wanted to reinvent the genre around this beautiful, wonderful, incredible device. What you’ve got here is a god game reinvented for this touch device, and reinvented for the audience.”
What’s more, the game will feature a sort of continuous form of multiplayer – kind of like an MMO. When you play, you’re playing with however many other players/gods are on at that moment (possibly into the tens of millions), all at the same time. And all of their lands are connected as a part of one extremely large and continuous world filled with other islands and other gods.
This even carries over into the game’s cross-platform functionality as changes made to your land on the iPad, iPhone, or PC will display in real time on any of the other platforms. “You’re connected to thousands, even millions, of people,” explained Molyneux, “We tried this out on this crazy app called Curiosity, and we connected together hundreds of thousands of people who simultaneously touched on the cube. Well now we’re connecting millions of people together. We did a cube, and now we’re doing this vast planet.”
It’s also been confirmed that Godus will be free to download for iOS, but no specifics have been given on its approach to monetization. The plan is to encourage players to want to spend money, but not force or require them to. “I love free to download. I never want to go back to having to pay money before having an idea if I’ll like something,” stated Molyneux. “What we have to do is get people to want to spend money, rather than need to spend money,” he continued, “I’m inspired by the way that the supermarket, especially American supermarkets, tempt you to spend money. We call it ‘Invest-to-Play’.” Personally I’m rather curious to see how all of this will work in practice.
Godus will be soft-launching in select territories (New Zealand, The Philippines, Sweden, Ireland, and Denmark) within the next few weeks.
How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
Toca Lab is an interesting new interactive app by Toca Boca. As the name may express, Toca Lab takes place in a laboratory setting where one has a chance to perform experiments with many of the same tools I used in eighth grade physical chemistry; such as a Bunsen burner to heat or a centrifuge to spin solutions in order to separate solids and liquids. A cooling agent to freeze mixtures is offered, as are other tools found in this laboratory. As one may expect the look of this app is quirky and inviting, with pleasing colors and sound effects that Toca Boca is known for. –Amy Solomon
Card Wars – Adventure Time is a tale of two wildly different emotions coming from the same game. Its core game is excellent, top-notch stuff. But the free-to-play aspects that surround this $3.99 purchase do a lot of damage to an otherwise amazing title. Taking direct inspiration from the “Card Wars” episode of Adventure Time, this card battler (appropriately enough) has players building decks and taking on other characters in battles. Players play creatures and buildings with different stats and effects on one of the four lanes, each with its own environment type that affects what can be played there. Each turn, the player chooses what cards to play, what cards to floop (meaning which special abilities to activate), and then to battle to try and take out creatures and to attack blank squares to hit the other player’s HP directly. Last one standing is the Cool Guy. –Carter Dotson
Simple to use and offering some good results, Rookie is a photo editing app that’s ideal for the average iOS photo snapper. It lacks a slight amount of ‘wow’ factor, staying pretty solid if not revolutionary, but that doesn’t stop it from being worth checking out. Laid out in an easy to understand manner, Rookie takes users each step of the way. It’s possible to take a photo from within the app or import existing shots before getting down to the fun stuff. The camera side of things isn’t that basic either, offering anti-shake, a self-timer, zoom, as well as focus and exposure controls. –Jennifer Allen
Arguably the finest Final Fantasy title out there (and believe me, there are plenty of arguments over which rules the roost) [Editor's Note: argument nothing, VI will always be the best!], Final Fantasy VI makes its way to iOS to remind players just how brilliant turn based RPGing really can be. Its conversion isn’t perfect but it’ll still satisfy the majority of players. Final Fantasy VI tells the story of Terra, a magic caster used by the evil Empire (is there any other kind?), who escapes with a group of rebels in order to overthrow the evil Kefka. It’s more complicated than that of course, easily proving to be one of the more gripping stories from the franchise. It’s also significantly large enough that the slightly imposing $16 asking price feels like a bargain by the end. –Jennifer Allen
Welcoming back the world’s baddest stickman sniper, Clear Vision 3 feels more ‘fleshed out’ than its predecessors with the addition of a shooting range and a variety of part-time jobs. This legal work ranges from plumbing, to dishwashing, to being a janitor. Though the jobs are an entertaining way to earn extra cash the animations won’t warrant a second watch for most, so it’s probably better to just shoot someone in the face for money instead. In that area, little has changed in Clear Vision 3, and it’s just as fun as ever. Players have to shoot their target by moving the scope into position and firing a single shot, while taking wind power and distance into account. As usual, some ‘hits’ require players to think outside of the box, depending on the client’s specific request. There is, however, the option to upgrade weapons this time around, using in-game currency to reduce the detrimental effects of the natural variables. The interface is as slick as expected, though I did occasionally notice a slight stutter of the crosshair after I removed my finger from the screen. –Lee Hamlet
Sometimes creativity is more than just coming up with new ideas. Dungeon Highway‘s gameplay, atmosphere, and even its artwork are (legally) taken from other sources. However, the resulting combination feels more interesting and original than expected. Dungeon Highway is basically a vertical shoot ‘em up like Xevious but played from the perspective of a behind the back endless runner like Sonic Dash. As a lone explorer forever runs forward into an infinite dungeon tunnel, the player’s job is to tilt him out of the way of obstacles and have him blast foes into bloody bits by tapping the screen. Adding to the retro shooter vibe is the steep challenge, especially on hardcore mode or in the daily challenge. It’s a game about testing twitch reflexes and gunning for the high score. There are also numerous power-ups to help make this task easier; like a growth potion that lets players sustain one more hit, a potion that slows down time for easier moving and shooting, and various weapons that change the size or shape of the player’s fire blast. –Jordan Minor
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
In Tiki Monkeys, thieving monkeys have to be set straight, and it isn’t the easiest task. It is a colorful exhibition, and it is easy to enjoy the gameplay which is rendered in top-down perspective. The characterizations are simple, and the animations are quite avid when it counts. The jungle motif is well represented in the green foliage, and the developer seemingly ignores overly extraneous visual distractions, which seems to feel right in this iteration. –Tre Lawrence
Motoheroz has made its way to Android. The gameplay comes in two generalized versions: One Shot, which exists to perpetuate leaderboard bragging rights, and Career, that highlights prowess over extended levels. In the latter version, finishing a level with a star (more on this later) opens up future levels. There are eleven environments (with another “coming soon”) and each environment is broken down into said levels. Social network sign-up is necessary to take part in the One Shot series. –Tre Lawrence
Everyone has a “driving” bucket list. Think about it: haven’t you ever wanted to captain a shrimp boat? What about a tank? The toddler choo-choo train at the mall? You know you do. Well, it’s time to add and strike rollercoaster conductor to/from the list. This is what Nutty Fluffies Rollercoaster from Ubisoft can do for you. It’s an inviting game with a large heart, the latter point underscored in the engaging artwork. It’s a fun, cheerful romp, with smooth animations and subtle use of perspective. –Tre Lawrence
And finally, this week the guys at Pocket Gamer marked the passing of Flappy Bird by reviewing its clones, chatted to Peter Molyneux about the microtransactions in his upcoming Godus, talked to Shenandoah Studio’s David Denham, and picked the best iOS and Android games of the week (including R-Type II, Dungelot 2, and The Room 2). Read more right here.
Fortunately, amongst all this, Jack has found the time to answer a few of our questions when it comes to all things to do with Curiosity and just how he feels about its progression.
“At first we were going to just allow players to tap the smaller 60 billion cubelets that make up the cube one by one. This was to see if the power of curiosity alone was enough motivation for people to carry on tapping with no other benefits,” he explained. “Surprisingly, this worked and it’s great seeing tons of tweets flying through of people hooked on this…we could have left it as pure as this but we felt that there was more that we could do with the cube.”
Jack explained that the inclusion of features such as the potential for combos via rewarding players with more coins, the longer they chip away for has added to the appeal: “…some people out there have been going crazy about getting the highest chain in the world: currently the highest chain is up in the millions! ”
As he points out, “…there is an urge in some people to tidy up all the left-over cubelets that are scattered around where people have come and gone, and so for those OCD-type players (there’s a few of those on the team) we give coin bonuses for clearing the screen of cubelets.” With such bonuses, it enables players to buy small upgrades thus feeling “powerful”, while aiding them in their quest to “get to the center faster”.
Along the way, Jack reckons that Curiosity can be considered as art. Echoing many of our thoughts here, “…I think it’s a pretty ancient perspective to have if you feel that Video Games cannot be art.”
“There [are] many wonderful things about Curiosity, the fact that people from all over the world can join together in working towards one goal…Each layer contains some mysterious image and it’s really fascinating to see the world unwrapping it like a present before it is revealed in all its inspiring beauty…it’s fascinating how each image or colour changes how players interpret the whole experience with some tweets saying one layer feels cold and and another motivating, and even thinking the audio has changed when it hasn’t.”
“I love that people have chiseled some phenomenal art into the cube that have surpassed my expectations and that literal art is being digested by people through their phones across the planet and then being shared across social networking sites and blogs. People have chipped marriage proposals into it as well as obituaries.” As Jack describes it, “…the cube itself is a giant canvas that the entire world can share with no censorship or moderation.”
Such feelings are what Jack hopes to be the main benefits for players. “I hope that people feel like they have been a part of something regardless of whether they have made that final tap…especially since it won’t be able to be revisited by anyone else after this experience is over.”
Having said that, he does suggest that it’s not entirely for the sake of it: “…there is something that people tapping on the cube are doing, and are already involved in that they are unaware of. I can’t say what that is yet, but in the future…that tapping will have counted for something.”
Given that Curiosity is just part of the 22 experiments planned by the team, we asked Jack just what the eventual end goal will be, “The final game we make is something that Peter has been thinking about for 20 years. He considers it the defining game of his career and we are all very excited about creating that experience for the world. The dream is that this final game will be something that 100 million people will play everyday.”
Jack’s willing to acknowledge, however, that this is a “huge ambition”. As he points out, Curiosity managed over 600,000 players in the space of 4 days but that’s still a way off such a lofty number. “…by creating these experiments and analysing the tons of data that we get from them we are finding out exactly how we are going to construct a game that can change the world.”
A game that can change the world? Suddenly, huge ambition sounds like an understatement. It’ll be fascinating to see what 22Cans come up with next, and after GODUS.
If you’re interested in contributing to GODUS’s development, check out the Kickstarter page.