As someone who lives for building and simulation games, I have to admit that Super Island God did not excite me when it first came up on Steam. I guess the trailer didn’t communicate enough of what it needed to, that I wasn’t really intrigued by it. However, I did see the potential and we ended up testing it out.
As the title suggests, it’s a God simulation VR game set in a group of islands. It’s currently released on early access by Empyrean Interactive and features six islands, each of which representing a challenge or level. At the beginning of the game, you are taken to the selection menu set at sea. You’ll find all the available islands with a title above them, as well as a control guide. It tells you how to zoom in and out, grab, and move through the space. I especially like the idea of wading around by pressing the left and right triggers alternately. It’s like a horizontal climbing motion.
The premise is pretty simple, you grow a population of villagers, direct them in building structures, and assign them duties to achieve a specific objective. You can do with them what you want – twirl them around, throw them into the water, feed them to a volcano or set them on fire. Each island challenge is timed, and the difficulty does increase as you progress. To be honest, it was a bit of a struggle learning the God functions at first. When you enter your first island, you’ll be presented with the objective right away, which is simple enough. However, no voice or text will guide you on how to build anything, really. Sure, the control guide said to press the menu button for the palette, but I wasn’t able to figure out right away that you’re supposed to drag objects from the palette to make them appear on the island. I should have paid more attention to the trailer LOL!
Once Upon a Time on an Island
The villagers, peasants, inhabitants, whichever you prefer, are spawned from the blue flame, a “mana” source of sorts, which is always present on each island. In the first challenge, your objective is to build a farm. To build a farm you’ll need lumber. To produce lumber, you need a lumberyard. You’ll also need to make villagers build it, and assign them to work as lumberjacks. This is where strategy kicks in. Depending on the objective, the palette will have all the buildings you need, and the total count of raw materials required for each building on the first page. The second page contains “miracles,” such as rain, lightning, sunlight, and so on. You need to collect a specific amount of the mana flame to summon each miracle. At the bottom of the palette is the timer which would also indicate time stamps for achieving medals within a level. It won’t tell you exactly what the medals are for, which is part of the challenge.
On the “buildings” palette, you’ll find hut, lumberyard, and farm for the first island. As you move to the next islands, more structures such as monument, quarry, fishing dock, and temple become available. I was pleasantly surprised by the increasing level of difficulty in the objectives. Since it doesn’t give you much information outside of the main objective, you’ll have to build your strategy as you go along. For example, instructions will simply state “Raise your population to 30,” but it won’t tell you what the forces are that “depopulate” your little island. Fires? Flooding? Volcano eruption? A plague? You’ll have to figure it out, and then solve it yourself. This is the puzzle element of the game, and it’s what has drawn me to it.
For an early access game, Super Island God presents a solid concept. I look forward to improvements in the aesthetics (i.e. more details, limbs, winter wardrobe, etc.), which I understand are meant to look pretty basic because of the number of interactions that need to be programmed. Moreover, the game could also use height options. Gods get stiff necks, too, apparently. This also seems to be a good base for user-created content, but that would be in the far, far future.
All things considered, we recommend this game to those who not only want to be almighty and powerful, but also enjoy solving puzzles and maybe learn some anthropology basics. It’s available on Steam at $19.99.