Space exploration, conquests and intergalactic warfare are merged into a seemly ambient strategy game. From the first 10 minutes of the game, you’re sure as heck wouldn’t think of it that way. You’d think “Hey, this game music is making me too relaxed” or “What the heck is this game? Where do I go or what do I do?” or even “Are you serious? All I do is plant some trees on these big circles?”. But I guarantee, after 15-20 minutes (granted if you got through the first two levels and didn’t dismiss this under-appreciated game) of playing, everything will be made clear as the tutorials are preparing you for WAR!
Eufloria PSN is not like its PC port. With added content and features, this version makes for the best ambient strategic gameplay that its developers visualized. All content, new and old, can be accessed through the main menu. From the Help section, players can view tutorials needed to get through the game. Though these same tutorials and tips are present when starting any new level.
One of the newest features added is Artifacts. Artifacts are mysterious items hidden throughout the Universe of Eufloria. Players can acquire them by conquering their home asteroid. Collections can be viewed from the main menu “Artifacts”. Also from the main menu, players can look to Options section to unlock features such as campaign chapters, modes and maps (locked when in demo). Also in Options is the difficulty settings. Not a typical range of difficulty like Easy, Normal, or Hard, you can choose between only two options: Classic settings that has a slow and more sedate gameplay or new settings that has a faster and more dynamic gameplay. For this review, I chose the second option.
Eufloria is in itself a battlefield of plant-life trying to bloom on asteroids in the Universe to grow and maintain its Empire. You come across other empires doing the same thing and like Humans, you want to protect your territory by attacking and asking questions later. These cute flowers give birth to attacking seedlings. Use strategies to protect your home asteroids and attack the enemies using different plant tree types and converting seedlings by tweaking their attributes.
There are 2 game modes in addition to the main game that players can really challenge themselves with – Skirmish Arenas and Dark Matter Mode. In the main game, players conquer asteroids in space and use their resources to grow and nurture new plants and seedlings or creatures to convey the player’s instructions. This gameplay is similar to RTS games where you create or build up an army and send them to certain areas to ascertain enemy forces. You will eventually come across other lifeforms on asteroids in your plumage whom either want to just destroy your plants and creatures or take over your asteroid’s resources. Eufloria equips you with various attack- or defense-oriented plants to help with the invasions. Tutorials provide easy reference to very easy and casual controls. If you forget how to do something, the pause menu has access to controls reference, a restart level and other convenient goodies.
In Skirmish Arenas, which provides the most challenging gameplay and builds off of what techniques, tools, maps and plants you unlocked in the main game, you are faced with several AI that want to take over your Empire of home asteroids. You are given a limited number of asteroids to control as you must conquer all asteroids on the map. Most of the asteroids have enemy forces on it so strategy is top priority.
In Dark Matter mode, the colors of the main game are inverted to look as though it’s Dark Matter of the Universe. There are no changes in gameplay and still use the same gameplay as the main game but it’s visually stunning to play the maps in that mode.
In the main game, there are 5 chapters with each 5 levels for a total of 25 levels. The first two chapters are all about getting familiar with the controls such as how to plant trees and send seedlings out to another asteroid. To plant new trees on any asteroid requires 10 seedlings. Each asteroid can hold up to 3-5 trees and create up to 40 new seedlings. This does not mean you can’t have more seedlings on an asteroid. You can send your seedlings to any asteroid. In further chapters, you can explore different ways of deploying scouts to unknown asteroids to glance at the number of enemies and the asteroid’s stats.
The first enemy you are introduced to is called “the infection”. It’s a seedling that got infected with a madness disease and now threatens your Empire by deploying to the nearest asteroid under your authority and killing your seedlings. To take out enemies, you need to increase your number of seedlings by their number of enemy forces. Enemies have their own trees that need to be conquered also.
Did I mention you can zoom in and see all the action? Eufloria has a couple of nice features that allow you to not only see the action up close (due to a bird’s eye view of the asteroid maps) but can also fast forward the action too. Planting and growing trees takes a long time apparently even in video game time so the developers were kind enough to add a fast forward option that can be used anytime. It can even be used when deploying forces to far asteroids take longer than you expected.
Asteroid attribute pop-up box are very easy to understand when you scroll over it. It has Energy, Strength and Speed stats along with the name of the asteroid, it’s core energy level, number of enemies currently home on it, number of trees planted, and number of seedlings deployed to it. These stats are important to know later when you need to tweak attributes of your own seedlings so they can defend and/or attack enemy plants and forces. For example, in a chapter, you’ll come across an enemy that has a strong plant tree. To take it down fast you need to deploy high Strength seedlings. Very fast seedlings can take care of incoming asteroid attacks. Powerful Energy seedlings can take a lot of enemy hits. Having a good combination for certain techniques are very useful.
Eufloria provides one of the most enchanted game music I’ve ever heard. Though gameplay can get tough the music get puts you at ease the whole time and allows you to remain focused. The soundtrack is an original ambient score provided by Brian Grainger. Of course, there’s several tracks in the score and not just a 3-hour long track.
Along with a great smoothing soundtrack are very simple yet visually stunning 2D to 3D graphics of the plants and creatures. Using the zoom feature probably shifts between the 2D and 3D effects. Up close, the plants are very colorful and simple but they are not distinct amongst each other in the same type. The same for seedlings, however, plants and creatures are very distinct amongst different types. For example, enemy plants, seedlings and other resources look completely different then your seedlings, plants and resources. It would have to be when there’s an intergalactic battle going on. Asteroids all look the same but vary in size. They can have some color but from the plants growing inside them.
Eufloria PSN will probably be a cult hit because not too many people give it the chance it so deserves. Imagine a game like Flower with a star trek environment and enemies that need to be dealt with. It can easily be a top ranking RTS game. Though not necessarily an issue, Eufloria’s lack of network multiplayer could be a turn off for some people. However, why not have a game that separates itself from what’s normal? Eufloria is not your average RTS. You learn how to colonize an Empire and take out the weeds.
Eufloria is available for space exploration on PSN for $9.99 USD and PC on these clients: Steam for $14.99, Direct 2 Drive for $19.95, Impulse for $19.95 and more via this link.