The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up
I’ll admit it, I’ve got a bit of a thing for Peter Molyneux. I dare say that I’d be rather giddy if I ever found myself in his company. Listening to his narrative walk-though of Godus on first booting the game up, was a rather pleasant surprise and whilst my “thing” with him isn’t sexual, I’d be quite happy if he tucked me in and read me a bedtime story from time to time. Before my man crush gets Frugal Gaming blacklisted by 22cans I’d better move onto Godus itself, the latest game from the BAFTA winning, OBE titled, Grandee of British Game Development.
Billed as a spiritual reinvention of a genre that he helped create, Godus is a God game. After successful reaching its funding target on Kickstarter back in December of 2012, the game has been in development since then and is still in early access on Steam. With the Kickstarter page still showing an original 7 to 9 month development roadmap, ambitions might well have been set slightly too high. So far, so Peter Molyneux.
But before the bad let’s focus on the good, in a nutshell, the game is beautiful. A really minimalistic and to be honest, quite basic art style looks stunning running in high resolution on my PC. It is a complete joy to look at with the earth made up of slightly different coloured layers, ramshackle beach huts, sparse white washed abodes, trees swaying in the wind and your little followers tending to their daily tasks, the art design is outstanding. The sound design is also fantastic, from the followers alerting you when they have accomplished their tasks to the bob, bips and pops when belief springs up and needs collecting, it’s all absolutely charming.
I was hooked for a good few hours, the game seemed simple and yet engaging. Belief is the main currency with which you enact your God like will. Sculpting the earth, directly ordering your followers, to placing divine trees and calling down apocalyptic bolts all require belief. It’s easy to get, more followers equates to more belief and with that in mind the first thing to do is start building more abodes for followers to breed in. So I spent my first few hours sculpting and building, watching my flock breed, I really enjoyed it. I was pretty much mesmerized for the first few hours, I found it strangely relaxing and collecting the little pinks blobs of belief was just a bonus that let me sculpt more and in turn increased my flock.
As buildings took longer and longer for my followers to construct, I found myself sculpting the land more and more, and I began to regularly run out of my landscaping fuel; the pink blobby belief. Another way of gaining more belief is to exchange gems, 5 gems will get you 1000 blobs of belief, in context 1000 belief doesn’t really let you do much. A couple of minutes of sculpting at the most and directly ordering a follower around costs 100 belief for example. You can see how quickly you can spend it. and here is where my whole PC Godus experience swiftly goes south.
Peter And The Wolf
You see Godus isn’t just a PC game, in fact it feels like its made its way to PC as an after thought. First and foremost Godus is a free to play game available on iOS devices. Like any “good” free to play game, it’s all about the in game purchases. Gems on iOS will set up back anything from £2.99 for 50 or up to £69.99 for 1400, to earn any useful amount of gems on PC takes a ridiculously long amount of time. You can find them hidden in treasure chests that you can unearth as you sculpt away the land, or send your followers of voyages of discovery to earn them. Both great ideas but neither will supply you with enough gems to stop the game from becoming a complete grind-fest.
Apart from being a good way of getting belief, which you can technically wait for your followers to generate. I came to a point in the game where my followers were starting to get unhappy. “Don’t worry” the dulcet tones of Peter Molyneux told me “ buy a happiness fountain and all will be fine” 30 fucking gems? Are you kidding me Peter? Jesus would quite literally weep at the thought of grinding for that many gems.
Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Godus is currently a free to play game wrapped up in a £14.99 PC games clothing. It’s completely unbalanced and absolutely no fun whatsoever to play after the first few hours. The minute you really start needing gems you are basically fucked, and the grind to get even a few of these gems sucks out any, and all enjoyment Godus originally provided. At that point you might as well just uninstall the whole thing and go and play for free on iOS if you have such a device.
It’s either arrogance in the extreme or just a complete school boy error that any developer let alone one with Peter Molyneux’s experience could believe that this crossover model could work for a retail release. Facebook game? Sure, but for £14.99, I’m expecting a well balanced God game. I’m happy to work for the needed gems but Christ, I bet Chinese workers making iPhone’s feel more valued than I do after putting in nearly 10 hours to the current build of Godus.
Whilst I would love to recommend that everyone rush to Steam to buy Godus, the best I can do for now is suggest that everyone tries the free to play version on iOS. It will give you a taste of how magical Godus on PC could be. It’s still early access, constantly being tweaked and I’m truly hoping that a mighty fine oak of a God game can flourish from the tiny sapling of free to play crossover mess that’s currently available.
You can find Godus on any iOS device via iTunes and for PC on Steam, an Android version is also planned…… according to the Kickstarter. So far, so Peter Molyneux.