Review: Reprisal Universe – An HTML5 Tribute to Populous Grows Up

Reprisal Universe Screen 2
Review: Reprisal Universe – An HTML5 Tribute to Populous Grows Up

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Reprisal Universe

Publisher: electrolyte

Developer: electrolyte

Genre: Strategy, god game

Release Date: September 15th, 2014

Developer Summary

Help Thallos guide and rescue his people. Using special totem powers you can control nature itself unleashing its full fury on anyone that stands in your way. As you explore distant lands you must gather your lost tribes and Amulets. But be warned, other tribes may not take too kindly to your intentions and will put up a fight!

Created in homage to Populous, Reprisal’s Universe spans over 34 planets and 184 islands pitting you against 3 other tribes – each with their own aggression traits. Learn to control the 15 totem powers, upgrading them as you explore and harness the 5 Wonder totems for maximum effect. In this Universe you won’t be alone, other explorers will be present helping you to uncover items and leaving their own legacies on islands you will explore.

Reprisal Universe- What We Think:

Reprisal Universe – a further iteration of “Reprisal” (which made our honorable mentions for 2012 when it was strictly an HTML5 title) is a bold attempt at injecting new life into the god game sub-genre of the real-time strategy. Reviving many of the concepts which Populous brought to our screens back in the late 80s, Reprisal Universe puts you in the role of a deity, guiding a population in their struggle against rival factions. It’s been some time since the last strong entry in the genre so how good a job does Reprisal Universe do of dragging the god game out of hibernation?

The game provides a largely text based narrative to help set the scene for the gameplay. You need to guide your people to victory and help them reclaim their lost lands. Small, text based storytelling segments break up the game as you proceed but these are little more than a frame for your deific exploits. After entering a name for your profile you’ll be thrust into your first mission.

In the Beginning

The difficulty is relaxed to begin with and a minimalist tutorial will guide you through the basics. There are no walls of text here and the tutorial uses a light touch to ensure that it doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay. As is often the case with the most elegantly crafted tutorials, you won’t notice the transition from the introductory levels to the meat of the game.

Reprisal Universe Screen 1

As with most god games, you don’t take direct control of your units like you would with a conventional strategy game. Instead you can set waypoints, provide mandates (such as gathering or battle) and manipulate the environment to make large scale tasks easier for your population. You don’t tell a specific unit to build a house; instead you set building as an objective and then raise land from the ocean so your units can spread out to expand your cities.

Lightning the Burden

Powers are unlocked when you access totems scattered through the levels. These powers are surprisingly fun to use and it’s rather satisfying to watch a lightning storm reduce an enemy settlement to ashes, or a fire spell weave through terrain, destroying houses in its path. Of course these abilities would make things a lot simpler for you if it weren’t for the fact that rival deities possess them as well.

In addition to these impressive powers you also have some subtler but more essential abilities. Most notably you can raise and lower the height of land, creating paths for your people to travel on or more terrain for them to build on.

Generally each map feels like an arms race as each faction attempts to spread as fast as possible. You can also use your kindle ability to force units to leave their homes; I have found that this power is best used when you have an advantage and you’re ready to unleash as many units as possible in an attack.

Reprisal Universe Screen 2

So far, so familiar; in its attempt to bring Populous to 2014, Reprisal Universe ends up looking rather a lot like its inspiration. That being said, the addition of the kindle ability definitely speeds things up when you would have been waiting for your population to grow at its own rate. Things really start to get interesting a few stages in when the game truly opens up.

Quake Before Him

I won’t spoil anything, but it’s sufficient to say you’re suddenly made aware that there is a lot more content on offer here than it might have first appeared. You also get access to different terrain types which each come with their own unique features. For example, I visited one land where regular earthquakes caused chaos for every faction at preset intervals. This all helps to keep Reprisal Universe exciting even when it begins to feel derivative.

The art style of Reprisal Universe is 16-bit, but unfortunately it has a glaring absence of music to back it up. Visually it’s quite basic and some may find this to be a problem but if you don’t mind using your imagination a little then you’ll find some charming aesthetics here, particularly the tilt-shift effect that lends to the idea that you are much larger than the citizens of this little world. Altogether it looks acceptable but if you like a soundtrack with your deity simulators you’re out of luck.

Reprisal Universe Screen 3

Like, Almost God-like

Reprisal Universe is an interesting homage to god games of old (and Populous most of all). In this role it generally achieves its goals and manages to be an enjoyable entry in the genre. That said there are a few problems; basic visuals, the absence of music and some easily defeated AI make for a small list of disappointments that may be too much of an issue for some players.

That said, if a relaxing, laid back god game with an interesting atmosphere and a whole lot of content appeal then Reprisal Universe is definitely worth a look.

Get Reprisal Universe on Steam

[xrr rating=”3.5/5″]

Watch the trailer for Reprisal Universe below: