There are a large number of simulation games available on the market. For each, they contain their own quirk to make them different from their rivals. Crest, however, has a very interesting premise. What if you were God, and what if you could only interact through suggestions?
That’s the basic gameplay of Crest. You start off with one village and given a brief tutorial. This tutorial will teach you what each widget does, and how to make commandments. There are two main commandments I was tasked with making: For followers living in the Savannah: produce food, and for followers living in the Savannah: reproduce. After that, the tutorial ended and I was thrown out on my own.
There are a modest variety of commandments available at the start of each game. There are several different areas to choose from, should a follower live in the area, and you can make a commandment to have a follower migrate in that direction. However, you cannot make commandments willy-nilly.
Making a commandment requires three influence points, which are given halfway through a cycle, which is a certain amount of days, and the amount you recover depends on the percentage of followers that believe in you. This makes the experience incredibly hands off. If your goal is to micromanage your followers, you’re going to have a bad time.
Since you cannot make commandments often, you have to be very selective with what you declare. Even when you finally have the points back to tell young followers to migrate to the desert, they can have the free will to not listen, which happens extremely often. In this world, what little power you have are mere suggestions and you’re just watching a play performed the world below go off script. The followers that I asked to migrate to the desert decided that the coast was a more fun place to hang out instead. This decision appeared to be completely random, because I still had 100% belief from followers.
Those followers that did listen to me, however, had a different kind of power. They could interpret my words as something else and create an association. As God, I can either approve these associations to increase their longevity, or denounce them, which will cause them to disappear more quickly. These associations, of course, can be dangerous.
In my first game, I had a serious gazelle problem. My followers were hungry, and through my love for them I decided that they should have a delicious gazelle. I gave the commandment for followers near gazelle to hunt and eat the gazelle. A few minutes later, there was a new association: followers near gazelle, hunt and eat followers. Within minutes, almost all of my followers were eaten by these heathens until I was left with one final follower, put in a constant loop of reproduction, dying of old age, and having their offspring reproduce. This situation was more hilarious than it was frustrating.
In subsequent games, I avoided commanding any of my followers to eat anything, and that seemed to help the cannibal situation. However, they still didn’t listen to my commands of migrating to certain areas. Instead, each time a new city was opened, it was because of a follower acting on their own free will.
In most of the games of this genre, there are a batch of advisors that give you advice on what to do to make the game run more smoothly. The advisors you are given in Crest, however, feel particularly useless. They give advice based on their beliefs, and they don’t seem to have a large variety of things to say. Even when they something, such as that it’s more prosperous to have fewer children, there’s hardly anything you can do about it.
Like I said before, this game isn’t the best for people who want to micromanage. I found that the best way to enjoy it was to turn the speed to its highest setting and watch your followers passively. But, even when I finally found the right groove to the game, I felt like I ran out of things to do fairly quickly.
Since this game is all about setting your own goals for what kind of world you want, your incentive is your curiosity. When I finally unlocked the ability to send my followers to war, I felt like I reached the peak of my experience. And so began the war of the unhappy followers vs happy followers. With 6 moderately populated cities with different beliefs, I had a new goal: kill everyone.
I gave commandments to have my followers attack each other. Unhappy people slaughtered happy people, hungry followers ate old followers, followers with children… wouldn’t stop making children. For the most part, it became a bloodbath and the villages shrunk in population, and soon, existence. When there was only a single village left, I wasn’t sure how to make them kill each other. There were dozens of lions nearby (ever populating, since the animals have a never-ending mating season apparently) and I figured these measly followers could not take on a den of lions. I was correct. With that, my legacy finally ended.
Crest is a fun, if brief, distraction from Eat Create Sleep. There are several ways you can experiment with the different commandments to have your followers react in different ways, but it definitely needs more. The game is also difficult to get into until you realize that you have to be as hands off as possible, but once you do get into it, it’s a brief sensation before you run out of ways to make your followers grow. For now, it’s fun to play God, but Crest has several steps to go before it becomes truly legendary.