I love this game. But--full disclosure--the strategy genre is almost exclusively where I spend my gaming hours. The remaining time is usually allocated to sandbox games, and Reus sort of falls into both these categories.
While definitely not an open world
game by any stretch of the imagination [the world is literally a closed ring], Reus follows the sandbox/god game pattern of affecting the world in a way similar to an artist painting a portrait. Using the proper tools (the Giants and their abilities), you masterfully paint your world on the blank canvas that is the earth. Unlike the artist, however, your creations are living beings!The Experience
For the most part, you play the game by ordering your four Giants to either place resources, augment existing resources, terraform/terramorph the planet, or attack an area. This basic premise is compelling, and the art style is rather charming. However, once you start to really dig in to Reus, its weaknesses start to come to the surface.
At a macro level, the only real issue with the game is its repetitiveness; a trait which is no stranger to the genre, and Reus certainly doesn't aim to change that. You're literally starting from the same place every time you play [an empty planet], with little deviation in your opening choices from game to game. This weakness is something of a non-issue to genre fans, of course. Just be aware that if you struggle to enjoy city/empire-building strategy games like Civilization V, for instance, you're not likely to be won over by Reus.The Mechanics
More specific to the gameplay: the aspect of Reus that makes it compelling happens to also be its biggest drawback. Reus retains replay value in two major ways: randomness/chance and unlocks [achievements]. The random aspect is the aforementioned double-edged sword: your villages grow by completing projects, which are chosen from a pool of potential projects (depending on terrain, etc.), which each have a randomly-chosen resource perk, which in turn dictates how you should build moving forward.
This RNG is obviously intended to keep the game fresh, however it is often at odds with the direction your unlocks want you to follow (especially once you're down to your last handful). The game requires a lot of pre-planning (prepare to spend a lot of time reading the wiki
), but then forces you to rely very heavily on what are essentially a series of dice rolls to line up perfectly. If you're averse to save scumming, you're gonna have a bad time.
The game engine also has minor goofs from time to time [no surprise, it's an indie game!]. Such as: a village spiking from 1 greed [high levels of greed are obtained by growing too fast and determine how aggressive villagers are] to attacking their neighbors just by loading savegame. These events seem to be rare, however.Conclusion TL;DR
If you enjoy the planning aspect of strategy games, and don't mind a lot of waiting [as resources build and for projects to start/finish], Reus is will reward you with hours upon hours of relaxing cognition.
Seriously. Reus can give Civilization a run for its money with all the pausing and tabbing out you do in a 120-minute game.