Rues is a god game with a bit of a twist, where you directly control a giant god-like creature on a circular planet. You use your massive strength to terraform the planet, create new life, and alter genes. You’ll be providing resources for the humans that live on your patch of land, but the way that you interact with them can change their advancement. Providing humans with too many resources will cause them to become greedy and seek war with other humans, thereby leading you into battle with another giant.
There’s a ton of freedom as to how you want to approach your civilization, and Reus can be quite a calming game as you just exist with the humans on your patch of land. Its vibrant 2D art style also helps give it a unique personality.
Black & White 2
Lionhead Studios and Peter Molyneux may have been best known for the Fable series, but they’re also responsible for one of the most prominent god games of all time, Black & White 2. It’s an interesting fusion of real-time strategy, city building, and god simulation that has you taking direct control of a giant creature called from the void.
The human civilization that called you will build and thrive on their own, but your guiding hand can greatly influence them. With your hand (or mouse pointer) you can pick up units, trees, and buildings, and change the course of your civilization. The humans will react differently depending on your creature’s mood and temperament, and you can influence them into good, evil, or being neutral. Black & White 2 also adds in some controllable warfare and fighting units, used in real-time strategy battles when you go to war with other civilizations.
If you’re looking for a god simulation game you can’t go wrong with Black & White 2, using an engaging mixture of multiple genres.
Dungeon Keeper 2
Dungeon Keeper 2 technically counts as a god game, but this time around you’re playing the role of the villain. As a demonic “Dungeon Keeper,” you’re tasked with constructing different traps and defenses to stop would-be heroes from invading. You’ll need to collect portal gems in each area to open a portal to the surface, and wreak havoc on the Kingdom of Harmonia.
There are plenty of options to take in Dungeon Keeper, moving around and recruiting various demons and minions, and constructing traps and obstacles. There’s a multiplayer mode and dungeon editor included as well, giving you even more options. If you’re looking for an evil take on the god game genre, Dungeon Keeper 2 fits the bill.
Viva Pinata is a bright and cartoony game from Rare, the minds behind Conker and Banjo Kazooie. It’s an extremely calming game, entirely focused around building your very own garden filled with adorable Pinata creatures. Starting out you need to dig up weeds and obstacles in your garden, then plant grass and build a welcoming home for your Pinatas. Each creature has different requirements to show up and start living in your garden, which become the core gameplay of Viva Pinata.
You’ll also need to defend your inhabitants against Ruffians, masked creatures that come to your garden to make trouble. There’s something calming about just gardening and watching your creatures in Viva Pinata, making it one of the most peaceful god games around.
From Dust doesn’t have you taking control of a physical being, but rather an ethereal one known as the Breath, shaping the land to help an ancient civilization. You can move your cursor around the world and use it to manipulate different forms of matter like water, earth, and lava. Changes happen incredibly quickly, making you keep on your toes to protect your civilization from natural disasters and other dangers, and allowing you to form new landmasses in seconds.
Intuitive controls help smooth everything out, and you have access to both a story mode and challenge mode. Parts of From Dust make it feel almost like a puzzle game, giving it a unique personality in the god game genre.
Age of Mythology
Age of Mythology is a tried-and-true RTS title, in the same spirit as the classic Age of Empires. This time around, however, the game focuses on the mythological gods and civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and the Norse. In traditional RTS fashion you have to build your civilization, construct units, gather resources, and conduct research. This time, however, in order to build many of the mythological units you’ll need to use a new resource called Favor, which can be gained in different ways by each civilization. There’s also a host of God Powers at your disposal, that you can use to tip the scales in your favor.
There’s a surprisingly engaging campaign mode for Age of Mythology that focuses around the fall of Atlantis, and a general seeking to rebuild his lost civilization and take revenge. Multiplayer on the other hand has you selecting your civilization and a god from a number of options, each of which give you various bonuses and perks. There’s even an expansion for the title that adds on the Atlanteans, and powerful new Titan units. If you’re a fan of mythology, this one is a must play.
Spore is a title from the mind of Will Wright, the mind behind both SimCity and the Sims. This time around, however, you’re creating an alien race from scratch and taking them throughout their advancement into a civilization. There’s a multitude of options in the game, allowing you to really craft the kind of creature you want.
Unlike other sim games, Spore does have an end goal of reaching the suppermassive black hole at the middle of the universe. There are five stages to the game, each of which have you taking your creatures through different time periods. You start out in the cell stage, then go to creature stage, tribal stage, civilization stage, and finally space stage. Each universe you play Spore in will also be procedurally generated, making each experience different.
If you really want a unique style of god game Spore might be a good fit, as you get to take an organism through its entire evolutionary life-cycle.
ActRaiser was one of more unique titles on the SNES, combining elements of city building, god games, and sidescrolling platformers. The game follows a character only known as “The Master,” who must defeat a demonic being called “The Evil One.”
Half of the game consists of an overhead world map view, where you have to guide The Master’s civilization starting with two lone humans. You’ll need to build roads and use various miracles like rain, lightning, wind, and earthquakes to guide the development of your population. There are also monsters that spawn from different lairs around the world, forcing you to take control of an Angel to protect the people. The other half of the game plays out on sidescrolling levels, where you take control of a human statue brought to life as The Master.
ActRaiser was an early title in the god game genre, and still remains one of the most unique ones for its interesting mix of gameplay.
At its core, Patapon is a rhythm title with a bit of god game thrown into the mix. You take direct control of a warrior tribe of creatures called Patapon, assuming the role of their “god.” The different face buttons on the PSP act as commands that you have to input in time with the beat of the music. You move the Patapon along linear levels, and have to solve puzzles and defeat enemies along the way.
A striking black and white art style really fits the overall aesthetic of the game, while the cries of Patapon warriors ring out next to the music. Prior to each mission in the game you’ll even be able to recruit new warriors for your army and setup different battle formations. Patapon is certainly one of the most unique takes on the god game genre that’s ever been created.
Populous: The Beginning
The Populous series was one of the biggest factors in the creation of the term “god game,” although it’s been many years since the most recent entry. Populous: The Beginning was the first in the series to sport 3D graphics, and even introduced quite a few new gameplay elements. You played as a female shaman leading her civilization across the universe, and trying to attain godhood. You’re able to issue direct commands to your followers, unlike previous Populous games, and at times have to engage other civilization in battle.
Using a combination of warriors and spells is essential in your journey across the universe, and there’s even a multiplayer mode to partake in. Populous: The Beginning may feel like one of the most modern entries in the series, but any Populous game is an engaging experience to see where god games got their start.