Civilization Builder Sapiens Lets You Start Society Over From The Beginning

As I get older and more disillusioned, I find a lot more appeal in god games. Is it just me, or is the world pretty shitty these days? I’m starting to like games that let me start over from the beginning and take over before things got so out of control. I just want to watch over those early humans and help them progress through the ages my way. Y’know, the right way. Sapiens, launching in early access on Steam this summer, is one such civilization builder. After playing the demo for a few hours, there’s a good chance I’m going to sink a lot of hours into this one, at least until I figure out how to fix all the world’s problems.

Sapiens starts at the beginning of human history when the ancestors of homo sapiens spent all day just chilling out, waiting to get killed by animals, dehydration, or an especially strong breeze. You act as the force that inspires them to get up and start figuring stuff out, and you’ll guide them through thousands of years of advancement.

Sapiens has a unique perspective as far as god games go. You have a free-roaming, first-person camera that can travel quickly across the sky or slowly on the ground to get up close and personal with your tribe. Sapiens isn’t much to look at, admittedly, but it’s nice to have that level of control over what you see and where you go. It makes the world feel a lot more real, as opposed to the more top-down perspective that makes everything feel like pieces in a boardgame.

Worlds are randomly generated from seeds and you can start with any two person tribe in the world. The scale is enormous, and right from the beginning you can see how small your tribe is compared to the rest of the planet. It’s fun to imagine them someday circumnavigating the globe and settling all over, but for now, you’ve just got two half-naked cave people sitting by a river.

From here, you’ll guide them to start making discoveries. Days are roughly 20 minutes long, and in just the first two you’ll discover how to create fire, build shelter, craft tools, and plant crops. Your tribe will also expand as new people discover your camp, which in turn allows you to work and progress faster.

You have direct control over each person if you want them to do something specific, but that level of micromanagement becomes untenable pretty quickly as your tribe grows. Instead, your humans all have specialties which determine the priority with which they complete specific tasks. You can freely assign tasks to your tribe and the people will automatically start doing what they’re most proficient at. Whenever you want, you can adjust each person’s specialities so that they’ll be directed to different tasks. If you need the whole tribe to go take down a wooly mammoth, you can change everyone’s specialty to hunting and they’ll all help get the job done.

The demo only lasts for two ingame days, so I’ve yet to see how far you can actually take your civilization. At the rate my days were cycling, it would take over 300 hours to progress 1000 years, so I have to assume that time starts to compress when you reach certain milestones. I’m elated at the prospect of growing my two-person tribe into sprawling metropolitan society, and all the steps along the way through the ages. Things will work out better this time around, I’m sure of it.

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