Black and White 2 may top many peoples’ lists of most-worshipped God games, but it certainly isn’t the first. God games let us shape and meld not only the physical land around us but also the fates and desires of our devoted subjects. We are given the choice to be merciful and kind or cruel and destructive. To command and conquer, or preach peace and prosperity.
The genre continued to propagate new life and, while many would argue that Black and White 2 is long overdue a follow-up, there are some great alternatives to give your time to as an offering.
Tired of long hours spent playing God? Take a break with the ‘Best Short Games You Can Finish In One Sitting’
1. Black and White
As the main inspiration for the list, and a main contender in the ‘God’ game genre, Black and White deserves the recognition that it still has after all these years. It focuses on an age of innocence where your choices meld the people and landscape into a realm of good or evil depending on your actions.
Your mouse pointer takes the form of a giant disembodied hand, which you can use to do everything from performing miracles, waking up your denizens, and of course tormenting them by chucking them around (as you’d expect from the same brain who brought us Dungeon Keeper!). Then there are the iconic ‘Creatures’ that you can summon – bipedal giant animals that you can use to further strengthen your hold over the people, whether by compassion or brute force.
The sequel improved on the first game in a number of ways, but the original is still worth playing today.
2. From Dust
From Dust differs from its Godly brethren. Instead of being omnipotent, your powers are reduced to that of controlling the land and thus only indirectly affecting your followers. You shape the environment by absorbing pockets of earth, water and lava and placing them conveniently around to sculpt pathways away from elements of destruction.
Leading the tribes to totem poles brings them to safety but also opens up a portal to an even more inhospitable environment that your divine powers have to manipulate. The game, while pleasing and calming in its appearance, slowly ramps up the danger until gentle pilgrimages across slowly flooding lands transcend into a race through vicious volcanoes and deadly tsunamis.
From Dust is a game about using your powers for the survival of mankind and players get to experience the rapture of ruling by brains rather than brawn.
Utilizing fate might sound like it goes against the whole ‘all-powerful divination of a God’ thing, but with Simmiland’s randomly generated world you never know what Godlike skills you will need to put into practice each time you play.
In a very different mechanic to the other games, you collect cards which are then used to satiate, or anger, your demanding inhabitants. Each action requires belief which is sequentially built up the more you play. It is a tactical, real-time God game that requires quick and deductive thinking.
Using minerals on grass creates rock while using rock in the sea creates coral. Each card pairing corresponds to a new item or discovery which increases belief and allows you to purchase more cards for the next round.
The game is endearingly simple and jovial in design but the card mechanics give it a deep and complex feel that would challenge even the most proficient of deities.
Reus shuns the usual elaborate and expansive nature of God games, replacing it with a simpler, yet still malleable, world.
Presented in two dimensions, players can zoom and rotate the environment as you control four giants with individual and equally significant skills based on their ‘form’. The rock giant can raise mountains and the water giant creates oceans, for example. But their powers also veer to the destructive side.
Initially, the game is about thriving, with the player using their giants to create resources and transform excess materials into more useful assets. But as always happens with human nature, your tribes get greedy and violent, and war inevitably comes to them or gets taken to others.
The fun really begins as you either quell this greed through fear or join in on the rampage with your giants using the full force of their destructive power.
5. Populous: The Beginning
With the release of Populus came the ability to build a world that was directly affected by the level of belief that the population had in you and the power that that faith created. It was a defining moment in the conception of a genre but one that remained largely unchanged for a decade.
Then the still highly playable Populous: The Beginning came along, where the presence of your deity is exhibited through a Shaman in a plight to reach Godhood. As the game advances, so too do the structures you can build and, more importantly, the divine powers you can summon.
In a game that forces more definitive war and destruction than other entries, you and your clan aim to wipe out all other tribes so that you can focus on your ultimate goal: to become an almighty God.
6. The Universim
Labeled as ‘a new breed of God game’, the focus here is largely on influencing the beliefs and actions of your people whilst fundamentally re-enacting the origin, and potential future fate, of our own planet.
From the very first two beings to populate the Earth, we oversee societies to thrive and subsequently falter. Recent updates see our believers shooting into space in a bid to rebuild and survive after the planet is left bereft of resources.
Power is wrought by the level of belief your followers have. Rain down fiery death upon the world or change winter to summer at a snap of your fingers. Whatever it takes to make them believe.
This in turn gives you ‘Creator points’ to build and progress. In a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, The Universim is a beautifully detailed and thought-provoking study of our actions and their consequences.
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