Elemental, My Deus: Reprisal Desktop

There are loads of games that I’ve continued to revisit over the years. I used to keep old PCs around the place, like time machines, always ready to conjure up a command line prompt, and autoexec.bat and config.sys files in need of tinkering. I never play Populous anymore though, neither it nor its first sequel, so indie homage Reprisal is the closest I’ve been to those deilightful days of my youth for many years. It’s great. The worst thing about it was its insistence on living in a browser and not allowing a right click to lower land. Sounds like a small thing but, damn, it’s annoying. Well, a desktop version fixes that, although only the demo of this new version is free.

The full browser version is still available and there’s a demo of the desktop version so you can check whether the full-screen, right-clicking, stereo chiptunes and challenge islands make it worthwhile. Both browser and desktop also have a ‘skirmish’ mode, which is new since I last looked at the game. It creates a random island and gives random powers to all participants.

On a personal note, since I’m juggling a hydra of an article in another window and could do with a break, Populous was one of the first games I can remember desperately wanting. The whole idea of a God game seemed so full of possibilities and I can remember walking back from the shop, my dad next to me carrying the game in a bag. We had to catch a train back home from the city and once we’d found our seats I kept asking if I could open the box but he was sure (based on past experience) that I’d lose a disc or the manual, leaving it on a seat or dropping it on the floor.

I’d seen a screenshot of a lightning strike and as the train rattled down the tracks, I looked out of the window at the Manchester suburbs, the clouds close above them. There were angry Gods in those skies, sending forks of energy stabbing downward, the buildings bursting into flame.

Yes, it's Populous II, but, man, these guys used to give me the creeps

At home, playing the game, it seemed just as incredible as my imagination had been. Now there aren’t any train rides home with the game safely held out of sight, there are just a couple of clicks, an invisible transaction, and a short wait. True also that these entertainments are closer than ever to resembling actual city skylines, but ask me in twenty years which games had the biggest impact on me and I reckon Populous will still be up there.

Free browser Reprisal is here, while the downloadable demo and the £4.99 desktop version are over on Desura.


  1. The Random One says:

    The headline made me think it was a desktop/mobile game based on Deus Ex Human Resources’ hacking minigames.

    I will prosecute for moral damages, Smith.

  2. Tams80 says:

    I spent hours playing reprisal. Far, far longer than I anticipated. I gave up on one of the later maps though as I was constantly fighting a loosing battle. It’s not bad for quite a simple game though.

    As for not getting that feel of anticipation… you’re doing it wrong Adam! Buying games ‘digitally’? Pfft. You should get them from or a shop or at least have a them posted to you.

  3. matty_gibbon says:

    and the Populous games are available on GOG

  4. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Populous was the first game I ever bought (for my Amiga 500).
    Actually, the first game I bought was “Populous: The Promised Lands”, which was an expansion, and then had to go buy the original game to play it…

  5. Salt says:

    The Flash player version that allows right clicking has been out for at least a couple of months now. It’s practically ancient.

    I wish more developers would use it as it really is wildly useful for the mouse-driven games that tend to appear in Flash. I wonder if lack of adoption for such a eminently practical function is due to lack of developer awareness that it exists, or a desire to keep their game easy to port to iOS (where the app store is paved with gold.)

    • MaXimillion says:

      So the desktop version has the same control issues the web one did? Too bad.

      • Salt says:

        The desktop version (with runs through AIR rather than directly in the Flash player) allows you to right-click to lower land as you’d expect.

        Just the in-browser version doesn’t, even though the Flash player supports that just fine these days.

  6. Napalm Sushi says:

    Reading from the third paragraph downwards fired up my own memories of the age when genres were birthed and publishers had yet to be driven to chronic risk-aversion, and I’m struggling to think of the last time I felt that kind of awe at a game blessing me with a fantastic new experience: the kind of thing that made me believe that we’d be playing some kind of fully organic universe simulators by now.

    From Dust could’ve come close with its jaw-dropping fluid physics and erosion systems had it not set its sights on just being a simple puzzle game (before being tragically violated by Ubisoft). Maybe it was Half-Life 2 with its then amazing physics engine and uncommonly solid pedigree. I certainly can’t think of anything else since then.

  7. Shazbut says:

    I made the mistake, aged about 7, of turning down a copy of Populous 2 that was to be given to me for free.

    I spent at least a year obsessing about that game afterwards. Also, I STILL want to know about all the deities that appeared very rarely and could walk across your land messing stuff up – like carving a river or causing trees to grow with every footstep. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? If so, please tell me what causes them to appear and how many of them there were and everything else!

    • RandomGunnerGirl says:

      Those are heroes in populous 2. There is one hero by element, and you can make them appear by using your godly mana, just like you can also invoke a volcano.

      Perseus changes your leader into a strong soldier, to defeat your opponents followers.
      Adonis divides each time he wins a combat.
      Heracles is a even stronger soldier, very resilient.
      Odysseus is the fastest hero.
      Achilles burns everything in his path
      And my favorite, Helen of Troy mesmerize your opponent’s followers. They die of exhaustion after following her for a while.

      • Shazbut says:

        Thanks for your reply, but it’s not the heroes I mean. I also remember Helen of Troy fondly. I’m talking about when you had actual gods walking over the landscape in the game. I think they were an easter egg, but they would actually affect things. I think they might appear if the game has gone on for too long. I haven’t found any real info about them on any wiki I’ve looked at, and yet I know for certain that they existed. Frustrating.

        EDIT: Found something! Copied from a comment on another forum:

        “Yeah there are a bunch of different kinds of monsters in Populous 2 that pop up.

        The Harpy creates whirlwinds
        The Gorgon turns people to stone
        Talos the golem stomps holes in the ground like the earthquake
        Typhon the dragon leaves a trail of fire I think
        I think there is another monster that makes swamps and a tree like creature that makes trees I believe.

        In fact there are monsters that also show up in Populous 1. There’s a blob that creates swamps, a wizard on a flying carpet that makes trees and a rock monster that makes rocks.”

        Apparently they appear if you control most of the map, as a way of nudging you to finish off your opponent :)

  8. InternetBatman says:

    I started playing this game then looked up and it was 4 hours later.