Idle Worship attempts to deliver divine fun with its god simulation

Idle Worship is a massively multiplayer online god simulator launched in March after a 29-month development cycle. The game’s certainly ambitious, thanks to its social play mechanics and high-end production values, but does it have enough going for it to bring in and maintain a player base large enough to ensure its survival?

Idle Worship casts the player as a god who’s finally managed to make a race of followers out of mud, following two unsuccessful attempts using sand and water. Once these “mudlings” come into existence they begin populating tropical islands under their god’s control, building up miniature civilizations and increasing a deity’s power by worshiping at their archipelagos’ altars, which represent the player in-game as a customizable avatar. Missions are assigned via mudlings’ prayers, which show up in a task bar on the side of the screen. Player progress is tracked primarily by individual level, which unlocks new god powers, new decoration or citybuilding items and allows players to create more islands within their archipelagos on which to create more mudling cities. The altar avatars also serve as a way to track player progress as they will become rundown over time if the player isn’t taking care of the island on which the avatar sits.

Idle Worship’s city-building mechanics is similar to what we see in other Facebook games. Players need to harvest materials like gold, stone and wood, which are needed to build new structures and upgrade existing ones. Mudlings must be dragged onto construction sites in order to construct buildings. Housing is the structure on which players spend the most resources, because all mudlings on an island require a home. If a player doesn’t have enough housing, the surplus mudlings become “homeless” and sit around, doing nothing. Note that each island within a player’s archipelago has a cap to how many houses can be built, but as of press time players are not barred for creating more mudlings than their island has room for.

The key gameplay twist is multiplayer — where the game world is populated by other players that can either help or hinder each other using god powers. These powers fall into two categories: blessings and curses, each of which cost energy to use. Used on their own islands, these powers can motivate a player’s mudlings to fear or love their god — which makes them work faster when set to given tasks like collecting resources. When used on other players, these powers have a similar impact on the other players’ singleplayer experience — but additional multiplayer-specific powers allow players to compete for the faith of one another’s mudling populations. Other players’ mudlings will automatically send out prayers to neighboring gods, too, often begging for help when an island runs out of resources or for any kind of god power to be used on them when that other player hasn’t visited the game in a while,

The blessings and curses have a wide range of effects, from summoning resources out of thin air to causing harmful events like earthquakes. The powers with the most dramatic effects (like killing a mudling with a bolt of lighting) come with long “cooldown” times as a balancing mechanism. The dichotomy between blessing and curses theoretically allows a player to role-play as either a good or evil deity. The system, however, doesn’t allow for any permanent effect based on one’s alignment: An evil god’s island looks identical to that of a benevolent deity, players still receive prayers asking for good and evil results and there doesn’t seem to be any real reward for pursuing one path instead of another. There’s also no way to dismiss missions that are outside of a player’s alignment. If a “good” player doesn’t want to begin the mission that will bring forth the equivalent of the Anti-Christ, the only option one has is to simply ignore it in the task bar. It’s frustrating after a while, when a large number of missions waiting to be accomplished don’t fit in with the type of character a player wants to be.