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