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Flattened Earth Society: Reprisal

Richard Dawkins wants you to boycott this game

I’m going to talk about an indie game called Reprisal, but first some theology. In the recent past, From Dust came out and it wasn’t Populous. It wasn’t even Populous with iffy controls, it steadfastly refused to be Populous at all despite being based around Godlike powers and terrain manipulation. Before that, Black and White came out and flirted with the idea of being Populous but then decided it would just be a bit like Populous with a lot more lobbing of poo and caressing of cows. Cardinal sins. Earlier still, Magic Carpet came into being and was actually incredibly similar to Populous, despite the fact the player controlled a wizard riding some flying fabric rather than an actual god of any sort. Heretical. Odd that despite its massive influence, much of Populous’ core remains its own. Now, electrolyte* have delivered unto us a mini-Populous for the browser. It’s in a pre-beta state but it’s playable for two short levels and, by God, it’s all rather lovely and nostalgic.

I do love God games and I have a tendency to think they’re much more common than they actually are. I reach toward my shelf (open Steam) and browse for something to scratch my megalomaniacal itch. Then I get sad and apply the unpleasing and ineffective Spore-balm while weeping furiously. As for Reprisal, I particularly like that it doesn’t rush to the big destructo-powers. First, there’s the period of nurturing your followers at the beginning of a map, something that Populous did on an increasingly grand scale. The levels here are tiny but the effect still works. I find an inherent satisfaction in flattening the land and watching new buildings appear. It’s a simple way to communicate expansion of power and it also, in this instance, allows lots of lovely pixel art to be shown off. And the art really is a treat. Detailed pixel buildings make me happy and really kickstart my imaginative functions.

There should be more to play before the end of the year and I shall be keeping an eye on development. It’s well worth checking out the development blog as well for an insight into the design process.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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