In the beginning, there was the word.
Language is an important thing as words change over time. Their meanings move, ebb and flow with modernity. What something meant at the level of words and deeper thousands of years ago may not mean the same thing as now. We see constantly that differences between interpretations of the same thing can lead to disputes on a number of scales.
Sound like the perfect thing to make a game about, right?
Crest asks the question ‘What if there was only the word?’ Can one guide a civilisation with only the word, a limited number of them at that? Part experiment, part God Sim, Crest makes for an interesting experience in how words are interpreted, even if doing so means this will be a very hands-off experience.
Your input in Crest is resolved down to around 2 nouns and a verb. You have all of your verbs to begin with, but over time you will gain more nouns, allowing you to extend the repertoire of commands to your followers. You want your jungle-dwelling believers to harvest more berries? Tell them. You want your desert dwellers to travel nicer places? Tell them as well. You want your young people to eat babies? For some reason, you can tell them that too, but don’t expect them to follow blindly.
Your words are merely influenced upon your people, and only your believers. It makes them more likely to do something rather than a solid command. Interpretation occurs as well, so some areas may take your words a little differently and you can support or condemn these decisions as you please.
Your overall goal is to not plunge your civilisation into a hole, and to guide them to greatness using your words. This is a very hands-off experience, your word is pretty much all you can do. The people, the ecosystem and pretty much the entire world works on its own system. You kill all the animals, you will probably starve; you eat all the babies, you will probably fail. It’s fairly sensible, but it means that a lot of your time you will be doing nothing.
That is probably the big issue with this game: Because you have such a small input, a lot more of your time is spent simply observing, managing resources and planning until you have enough faith to make your next move. An hour of time playing this game is probably closer to 40 minutes of watching and 20 minutes of actual input. You’ll have to get used to the tedium.
A few other niggles plagued my time with the game. While graphically the game is beautiful the framerate was atrocious, sitting around 20-30 for most of the time at 1080p. A few drops in graphics managed to push it up, but I have a 1070 and should be capable of hitting high graphics. It seems the amount of objects on the screen is to blame, and unless I want to raze my earth flat I will have to deal with it. The game also crashed sometimes when I tried to save, losing my world, and I cannot figure out why.
Crest is an experiment in words, and a well-working experiment. It can either be enjoyed as a fun God Sim with an interesting twist, or as a fun attempt to try and twist your godly words, which I did try. The single input means that you will be waiting to hit the marker to take the next step, but you get plenty of time to see the consequences of your actions. So choose your words carefully.