So, I bought Godus at 75% off. I was curious if countless Kickstarter backers being disappointed at this game meant it didn't meet their expectations, or how bad it really was. What I am writing is based on several hours of playing the "beta V2.4" version.
To recap, 22cans collected lots of Kickstarter money
to make a PC version of the game, and 5 months later when it foreseeable they wouldn't get done they contracted a publisher for a mobile version and finished that first.
If you ever wanted to experience the "fat-finger" feeling you get on mobile on your PC, this game delivers: when I am clicking and dragging to move a mountain "slice", what moves is often not quite where I clicked, and I don't know why. But hey, instead of fixing this, we can prevent people from losing too much by only allowing small changes -- which means that big changes (and you'll need lots of them) have to be executed as a series of small changes. A real PC game would let me make the change and ask for confirmation or, even better, allow undo or reverse time, but we can't have that in a Skinner box, now can we (see below)? There are a few other things that don't quite work right yet (including infrequent game crashes), but the former is part of the core game mechanic, and I'd have expected it to be in the 53% that are allegedly completed.
I don't play much mobile myself (though I recommend LYNE on any touch device), but the rest of Godus's mobile inheritance are characteristics this game shares with monetized "Skinner box
" games that I have been looking at plenty on Kongregate, The game is structured around annoying you into spending "gems", which in the PC version don't have to be bought, but that doesn't solve the big problems of this approach. To do things in-game you need belief (mana). In a f2p game, that would be your action bar that renews by waiting. Well, you also need more believers to get belief, but still, if you like you could idle this game for hours and collect belief and then be able to "pay" for sculpting the landscape and sending your minions on errands. (Yes, you "pay" for giving orders to the little computer people.) Or you can buy belief (and food, the other in-game currency) with gems. To acquire your godlike skills, you need to progress in the game so you can unlock a skill card that you can only use when you have placed "stickers" on it that you either find in treasure chests or (surprise) buy with games in the form of "booster packs" (another favorite Skinner box staple). Oh, and best hold off on opening too many treasure chests, because there are skill cards that make the treasure in them more valuable.
Much of the game is automated. "Zoning" for buildings can only be done indirectly by blocking the automatic zoning off unwanted spots with terrain. Unit pathfinding sucks over long distances: toons will tell me several times they're blocked until they finally find their way to the destination. Again, this is a core feature, which should have been working in the mobile version, except people on tablets apparently can't send units as far away as I do. But collecting "belief" is not automated, it's a useless "makework" klickfest that only makes sense as part of a "core loop" on a skinner box.
Oh, how you get gems: by either killing your believers (which makes them unhappy, which gives the AI opponent an advantage), by doing a "voyage" which the commentary tells me I can repeat as often as I like, but I made one voyage and now I can't any more, or by finding some in treasure chests, which are limited.
Generally, the game setting makes me uncomfortable: my job is to flatten large amounts of landscape, combine cottages into housing blocks, consider rocks and trees as detrimental (you get a skill that makes trees positive later), and homeless people beg you to kill them for gems, basically. God is a real estate developer.
I do love the terrain: I love its colors, I love how the shape makes paths and building sites, I love to shape it (when it's not being annoying, see above), but the rest of the gameplay? Forget it. This is what the kickstarter promised: to be god in such a world (and kudos to the artists, they did a good job in creating a world you'd want to be god in), but the gameplay is being an accountant, and on your first playthrough you have incomplete/misleading information to boot.
The pity is that the terraforming minigame levels show that someone somewhere realized that doing these terrain things is fun. But building a multi-currency klickfest economic waiting game on top of that is just not warranted. They've taken something very fun and tweaked it so that there's barely any fun left - which on a monetized game makes people hope it'll be fun and exciting if they pay, which they do and it is, which makes it as profitable as drug dealing."Free-to-play games aren't after everyone for a few dollars -- they're after weak people in vulnerable states for hundreds, if not thousands."
Wanna bet this game goes free2play with monetization within a year after its full release?
Shame on you, Mr Molyneux.
Oh, what do I recommend? If you want to feel like a god, buy SimCity 2000, Settlers 2 Gold, or any other world-building game that doesn't make you work for your basic game functionality, or feel you have to buy your powers at Gods-R-Us. And if you like Skinner boxes, go look in the f2p flash scene, there are lots of titles, some of which are decent enough if you can overlook the sleazy business model. Or go back to playing farmville.