Just by looking at Reus you can probably already tell that it is unique. It is a real time strategy game played on a circular world. There is no adventure mode, but each round you play is a self contained era. Each era starts from scratch and lasts for a certain duration of your choosing. At first, you will only be able to play for a 30 minute era, but upon completing each era a longer duration one is unlocked. You’ll end up with 30, 60 and 120 minute options; each one is of course increasingly more difficult than the previous!
At the beginning of each era the world is a blank canvas. It is completely up to you how you decide to structure your world. There are a few rules however about each of the biomes that you can create. First off, forest and swamp biomes must both be placed on tiles that get rain. This means they must be within about twelve spaces of an ocean biome. The ocean can be placed literally anywhere. The desert is created by raising a mountain which actually creates a desert on both sides of it unless a water source is near enough to provide rain to that side of the mountain.
Laying out the biomes is an important piece of Reus,but also just the beginning; there is a ton of stuff to learn. I am thankful that there are three fairly informative tutorials that help teach you everything you need to know to start playing. The first few thirty minute eras might be rough, but it gets easier as you get more familiar with the concepts.
Most of your time spent in Reus will be in planting resources. Each giant has the ability to plant two different resources and also apply various upgrades. Resources can be categorized into plants, animals and minerals but the specific type of resource actually makes all the difference. For example, the tree giant plants a blueberry in the forest, but an elderberry in the swamp; the water giant can place chickens in the forest or fish in the water. Learning all of these different types and their perks is just a matter of practice because there isn’t any way to guess. That can make the learning curve pretty steep up front.
Knowing how to place your resources in Reus becomes the most important aspect of the game because of what they call Symbiosis. A symbiosis is a rule that will allow you to get more than normal output from a resource. Most of the time these rules specify a certain other resource that must be put on a neighboring space. For example, if quartz is next to another quartz it can produce extra wealth.
I haven’t even gotten into why you’re mining all these minerals! There is just so much going on in Reus, it can be overwhelming at times. Luckily, Reus offers both a pause feature and a lot of helpful text; the former mostly useful for digesting the latter! When time is paused, nothing is happening, but you can still issue orders. Very helpful when trying to optimize resource positions.
As you plant resources, civilizations will begin to develop in your world. Each civilization will naturally start projects which have resource requirements. Meeting these requirements will allow the civilizations to complete the projects and this will help your world prosper and grow. Completing projects also means receiving ambassadors which give your giants new abilities. That stuff will all happen naturally, the challenge to you is really learning how to organize resources in the tiny amount of space you're given to get the maximum output.
The biggest downfall to Reus in my mind is the timed rounds. It doesn’t leave you feeling very accomplished in the grand scheme because every game is so self contained. It would be cool to have an adventure mode with some predefined goals, but I would also take just some leaderboards to see what other people are doing.
I also wouldn’t mind some more variety in the projects. It does help to get familiar so that playing multiple times makes you more efficient but it would be nice to not get the same projects every single time. It’s not a deal breaker complaint and I also imagine in future updates new projects will become available.
Reus is one of the most unique real time strategy games I have played and even for it's complexity I found it fairly approachable. I love the way it looks and even though I’m not very good, I’m quite addicted to getting better. I recommend Reus for any RTS fans, but be warned that you’re not going for an easy run.