Black & White has been in development for three years. The hype built up over that time had many, including myself, fearing the game wouldn’t be able to live up to it. Well, I’m happy to report that not only does Black & White meet all expectations, it actually exceeds them.
The premise of the game is simple: you’re a god in a land that has no concept of good and evil. The game takes place in four lands, each of which represents one chapter in the story. You have to complete Land 1 before moving on to Land 2 and so forth.
The first land is a tutorial, and it’s important to really pay attention. While Black & White is simple to get into, it’s tough to get the hang of it. Dealing with the camera is especially tough at first, so that’s the first thing you learn. After that, you’re taught the basics of interacting with the world and people and get your first quest, or Challenge.
Completing this Challenge requires the completion of some mini-Challenges, and eventually you obtain your Creature, who is essentially your avatar in the world. The creature is important, and proper care of it is required. The rest of Land 1 teaches you basic Creature care, and you can spend that time teaching it all sorts of tricks and miracles.
Miracles are important to providing your people with necessities, and also increases their belief in you. Belief is important, because if nobody believes in you, you cease to exist. You creature is instrumental in maintaining belief levels, because it is representative of your power.
Casting miracles uses a unique gesture system, in which you move the mouse in a certain pattern in order to cast certain spells. However, these spells require prayer points, which requires people to worship you, which requires them to believe in you. It’s a complex, circular system in which people are key.
The exception to this is your Creature. Any miracles your Creature casts do not require prayer points. Which means that teaching your creature to cast miracles is extremely important. But, again, there’s a catch. Just teaching your creature to cast a miracle won’t cut it. You must provide a context for it to learn. So, for example, if you cast a food miracle over the village store while your creature looks on, it will learn to do the same thing, and eventually begin doing the same thing.