Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Nick Cave once murmur-sang about his lack of belief in an interventionist god. Not a Populous man, then, Mr Cave. All those pillars of flame and the constant terraforming are sure signs of direct interference by celestial pests. Perhaps he’d be more comfortable with Skyward Collapse [official site], a God game in which you must maintain balance by nudging. You do intervene, but quietly. Nick wouldn’t even notice you.
I love Skyward Collapse but the first time I played it, I thought it was utterly tedious. It’s tiny isometric worlds just didn’t seem busy enough – I’d expected hives of activity that required my attention. Instead, Skyward Collapse gives you barren land and asks you to make a garden. Instead of flowers, there are civilisations and as their borders expand, they will fight.
Your task is to ensure that equilibrium is maintained, boosting the strength of one culture while ensuring that its rivals aren’t overwhelmed. To achieve that, you have access to a host of powers, many of which introduce mythological units into the world.
The trick is to think ahead so that you’re always ready to prune the growth from whatever seeds you’ve planted when they become too dangerous. The longer a game runs, the more complicated the world becomes. You prune, you plant and you pick away, and try to avert catastrophe.
I love Skyward Collapse because, like so many Arcen games, it runs with an idea and doesn’t stop until it finds the extremes of that idea. It has flaws, namely a slow and sometimes repetitive early game, but there’s nothing else quite like it.