Illiberation Theology: Gods Vs Humans Demo

By John Walker on November 17th, 2010 at 12:12 pm.

Apparently the gods don't want humans in heaven. Cluttering up the place.

It seems a slightly imbalanced fight. But these are some resilient humans. Zallag’s Gods Vs. Humans is a tower-destroying puzzle game, and while I’m beyond certain that there’s an obscure example of the same idea released for the Amiga in 1992 that someone will point out, it’s an original approach for me. You play a god, whose job it is to prevent the humans from building a tower that reaches the heavens. To do this you use a combination of offensive and defensive powers, while attempting to not turn the humans completely against you. It’s a balance of destroying their heretical creations, but without losing their faith. It’s also about as complicated a set of instructions as I’ve ever seen.

Remember the days when a game would come with a manual as thick as a phonebook, and terrified you’d flick to about two-thirds through desperately hoping to find by that point it had reached Slovakian? And then it would still be in English, and your heart would sink. I think I’ve read about that volume of text in popped-up instructions playing the demo of this. It’s an assault of rules and instructions, asking you to understand about seventeen different aspects of the game at once, without letting you actually play them in context.

Once the game lets you play, rather than trying to remember and apply all you’ve learned, it instead starts yanking the camera away from you and throwing even more information at you. It’s a barrage, and a deeply confusing one.

Which is a great shame, as the concept here is excellent. The humans (and they really don’t look like humans) are made up of different units, each with specific roles, and each needing to be handled differently. Then the levels of the towers, each to be destroyed separately, quickly start to take on different properties and roles within the tower. Then there’s the application of your powers, trying to do damage to the structure of the construction, but without harming the humans. Harm humans and lose respect, and its from their respect that you gain your godly powers. It’s a very interesting balance. And human happiness or anger also affects more aspects, the nature of the shrines being built, the sorts of priests who show up, and so on. It’s incredibly involved, but unfortunately seems to have no concept at all for how to introduce these elements slowly. A few levels without having to worry about building scarecrows to distract evil priests and reinforced structures and… And yet, despite all this, at no point does the game volunteer what your powers do. Bonkers.

If you’re feeling persistent, I’d say this is definitely worth a look. The presentation is absolutely fantastic – it looks very cute, and gorgeously animated. And it’s an intriguing new approach to a puzzle game, and a tough one. The demo is here. And you can buy the full game for £15 from here. However, a word of caution: they’re charging a horrific £8 extra for the “right” to re-download the game after the first time, and then for only one year.

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34 Comments »

  1. MrMud says:

    Charging 50% extra to be allowed to re-download the game sounds like the making of a winning distribution service right there.

  2. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    If they want to hold their own game hostage, they’re insane. I’m sure they have concerns about bandwidth costs, but they can’t possibly hope to be taken seriously like that.

  3. Lewie Procter says:

    If you are interested, but don’t want to buy with that deal, it is on Wiiware, and you’d have better rights.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    that’s insaaaaane.

  5. Dawngreeter says:

    Can I pay double to play it on two monitors?

  6. Dan Forinton says:

    Or alternatively, buy it via Impulse – although I haven’t checked if it’s actually available in the UK on Impulse. Given the number of games that are only available in the US on Impulse, this may be another one.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    I usually had the opposite manual problem; you got a nice chunky book, hoping for all sorts of information and charts and tables, and then discovered that five-sixths of it were in different types of Foreignian and it just told you how to install and not to be epileptic. Disappointing.

    • Clovis says:

      If anything about digital distribution is bad, it’s the loss of the manuals. Of course, before we got to that point manuals started be pretty thin and useless. But, yeah, I used to really enjoy reading the manual for games.

      In addition to using the box art as a way to determine what games to buy, I’d also use the box weight. More weight probably means a bigger manual, which is good.

      In the end though, really good tutorials combined with an extensive in game -opedia is pretty sufficient to enjoy the actual game.

    • RQH says:

      Talk of manuals brings me back to the Halcyon Days of My Youth(tm) and the Christmas tour of grandparents’ houses. The only things that made having to wait the entire day to get home and play my newly-unwrapped games bearable were the manuals, which were a kind of entertainment unto themselves, rife presages of the game to come. Sometimes the game I imagined from reading the manual was even better than the actual game!

      As manual heftiness declined, I was forced to turn to handheld games for immediate satisfaction.

  8. Rich says:

    I reckon Homeworld has the best games manual I’ve seen. Lots of useful stuff, but also plenty of additional detail that adds extra dimensions to the game. Starcraft had a pretty good one too.

    Edit: Oh and Half-Life.
    Oh, those were the days.

    • Premium User Badge

      Colthor says:

      @Rich
      Their Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain came with a 196-page ringbound book, containing all sorts of historical and technical information on top of “push forwards to dive”.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Every Origin Systems game was a delight to read before you played it.

    • CMaster says:

      I loved the long afrugment about best tactics at the back of the Homeworld manual.
      Shame the actual answer was “Build a mix of destroyers and missile destroyers. Heal as necessary. Watch everything else die”

    • FhnuZoag says:

      Aces of the Pacific had that too. Hundreds of full colour pages of planes, their characteristics, design histories, and so on. And basically a full history of the Pacific war, tactics used…

    • Rich says:

      Who doesn’t like a good afrugment?

    • aldo_14 says:

      Every Origin Systems game was a delight to read before you played it.

      Strike Commander was fantastic.

    • The Innocent says:

      The manual that most appealed to me was the GTA: San Andreas manual. That was amazingly clever.

    • mujadaddy says:

      I found my Ultima IV spell components book the other day — wave-of-nostalgia.

    • Groove says:

      The original mechcommander. 184 pages, with every bit of information you could ever want, including in-character tactics advice about obscure ideas you wouldn’t otherwise realise were in the game (starting a forest fire to create fake heat signitures). Also, glossy middle pages with every mech on it.

      It’s currently on my shelf, next to the proper books.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Myth and Warcraft (the originals) had great manuals. Illustrated monster descriptions! In-depth histories! So delicious.

    • Hyperion says:

      Reminds me of Falcon 4.0. Came with 2 manuals and one of them with a spiral spine and like 500+ pages.

      Also, Strike Commander is possibly the only game I reeeeeeeeally want to see on GOG with fully working voices and everything.

  9. Brumisator says:

    God created man, so to think him, man created God.

  10. CMaster says:

    Wow, that sounded like a fantastic idea.
    The gameplay was actually pretty uninspiring however. There were a couple of little tricks to add, but mostly it was just grind. Also, scarecrows don’t seem to actually work.
    Got up to Egypt level 9 or so in the demo before deciding to pack it in.

  11. Wilson says:

    I really liked the game’s concept and art, but the gameplay seemed a bit samey. I think they could have used a wider range of powers for your god. I’m sure you could do some really interesting stuff, since I enjoyed what was on offer (summoning a mummy and watching everyone run away was fun!) but there were too many plain attack powers and not enough interesting fun stuff. Also, the effects for when a floor collapses and especially when the entire tower collapses were really underwhelming. It was good, but not enough variety in what I saw to spend money on (unless the later levels are very different I doubt the gameplay would improve much further into the game).

  12. SpinalJack says:

    I downloaded the demo fearing the worst but it’s not actually that complicated. After beating one level it boils down to one strategy:

    1) Use the sexy lady spell on every level where there are people
    2) Charge up the scarab power in the middle of the power wheel
    3) Blast the bottom room with your best spell
    4) If the tower still stands just cast sexy lady / mummy on the bottom room to prevent people from repairing it and repeat step 3 until you win

    • Wilson says:

      @SpinalJack – Yeah, that’s the conclusion I had just about come to when I stopped playing the demo. As someone mentions above (talking about Homeworld 2), it’s a shame when games suggest or try to have depth to their strategies, but it just doesn’t work out.

    • Baines says:

      That sounds fairly identical to the YouTube video of someone playing the Wii version’s tutorial level. They just put a sexy woman on every level with humans to build power, then ran out the people and blasted away with attack spells.

  13. Al3xand3r says:

    It looks like a nearly 1:1 rip off of My Life as a Darklord (look it up).

    • SpinalJack says:

      except it’s not. The only thing in common is that it’s in a tower.

  14. A-Scale says:

    But I can get the right to download the game as many times as I want for free from the pirate bay…

  15. sinister agent says:

    I’m not going to play this. Where do I pay?

  16. Theory says:

    This game is utterly tedious. Bah.