The Heavenly Father of Cow Clickers

The Heavenly Father of Cow Clickers

22 Cans' Godus is pretty. Pretty slow. (But also pretty.)

I don't know if I'm a God or an environmental terrorist. I think I might be a God but that's certainly suspect. What I do most days is break boulders and raze woodland paradises in order to make room for my people. When I'm not otherwise engaged in the wholesale destruction of the local ecosystem, I'm waiting. Waiting for my people to propagate and flood the barren landscape. Waiting for tiny red bubbles of Faith to waft above the various hovels and huts built by my tribesmen so I can use them to further fuel our attempt at world domination.

No one ever said progress can't be ugly.

Mwa. Ha. Ha. Ha?

If I could only use one word and one word alone to describe 22 Cans' Godus, the so-called 'regenesis of the god game', it would probably be: slow. Reaaaal slow. Godus behaves like you're indeed a deity with millenniums to spend clicking lethargically away at everything. To be fair, there's nothing necessarily bad about more languidly-paced titles. Stuff like Anno 2070 are to video games what beef bourguignon is to cooking; they're meant to sit, to stew, to grow progressively more complex and flavorful. But just because some things take time to hit their stride, it doesn't mean the journey there shouldn't be rewarding. When you take mouthful of a nascent stew, you want to think, 'Man, I can't wait to see how this turns out' and not, 'Oh, god. I hope this was worth it.'

Godus currently evokes the second response from me. Purportedly, it gets way, way better after you've hit the 20th hour mark or have acquired at least 1000 followers but the fact of the matter is that Godus makes it an absolutely chore to get there. Which is a crying shame, honestly, because the game practically demands inspection. If there is one area that 22 Cans got right, it's the visuals. The isometric world in which Godus is set is equal parts origami and clay, a delicate-looking, tactile thing compromised of rich pastels. The animations aren't all there yet, though. The wolves, for example, ramble without moving their legs unless they're in pursuit of one of your followers. But that's mostly forgivable. Godus is only 40% completed, after all.

In spite of this, however, the sluggish pacing remains somewhat less palatable. Godus opens on a simple enough note: Two tribesmen. Your omnipotent cursor. An island retreat that would make resort developers slaver with want. Almost immediately, your amorous followers will make a hut for themselves and, after a while, a red resource ball will pop up. Click. This is your mana, the gas for your terraforming hijinks, the calories that power your godly prowess. At some point, a flag will skitter up the pole in front of the inaugural dwelling, indicating that there's no longer any room for the first couple's offspring. Click on it to release the new follower; they'll run off, build a home and, curiously enough, propagate on their lonesome. Now, you'll have two abodes to click on. Click. Click again. There is no real strategy to this rapid growth, no demand made of your ability to intelligently construct a metropolis at the dawn of human history. All you're responsible for is clearing land and making space. Here in Godus, you're the God of cold, hard urbanism.


It drags. Initially, some of this monotony will be mitigated by the hunt for little treasure chests scattered across the world. Each of these contain a Resource Card, a mandatory ingredient for completing your Research Cards which are, in turn, your route to advancements like construction and familial structure. Unfortunately, the novelty wears out quickly enough as there is neither any actual challenge involved in (Oh! It's underwater? Let's move a few layers of soil away!) their location or any real 'oomph' (Yay. Felt.) associated with their discovery. According to the developers, your little cadre of blue-robed primitives will eventually move on to visit the stars. The problem with that is how infinitely removed you are from that process. Every time your civilization achieves a new stage of development, you'll automatically be rewarded with Four Research Cards. Unless you make a concentrated to avoid all treasure chests, these will automatically be filled out, the prize deposited on your lap with about as much pomp and punctuality as the electric bill.

Click. Clickclickclickclick.

Multiplayer isn't much better either. In its current form, much of it simply consists of urging as many of your followers as possible into the other guy's camp and obliterating them by sheer force of number. Given the A.I's dismal lack of intelligence, the whole procedure is nowhere near the cerebral work-out games like Starcraft are. What it is, to some extent, is creepy. Why creepy? While it's possible to get a match going with someone in your friends' list who owns Godus, your first match-up in Godus will most likely consist of an encounter with a slightly too chipper A.I named Amy. What's unsettling about the whole deal is how Amy has been constructed to resemble a real person. She titters at you, wide-eyed with excitement, and even has a girlishly embellished profile picture. Eventually, according to what I've read, you'll be able to get a representation of her wandering around in the game and .. excerpts from her pretend Facebook feed? Right. Totally not weird at all.

Awkward A.Is are awkward.


Weirdly, I'm not quite prepared to dismiss Godus just yet. 60% of polish, community-driven corrections and work could turn Godus into something good. The biggest thing about Godus, though, is that it feels like it's not meant for anyone inclined towards furiously-paced violence or, well, anything that requires actual mental commitments. Most of my time with Godus has been spent with it in the background, a garden to continuously and meticulously groom. Taken from that perspective, the tedium eases somewhat. Godus makes a better interactive screensaver than it does a sequel to Populous. And that, really, is fine because no one should be forced to endure apoleptic rage against their will. Godus feels like it wants to make you the God of quiet spaces, of introspection and drawn-out sessions in the game. Here's hoping that it delivers because I can't think of anyone who really wants to play the Heavenly Father of Cow Clickers.

P.S: F8 gives you access to developer tools. This can be quite entertaining.

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