Eufloria (PSN [Reviewed], PC)
Genre(s): Real Time Strategy
Released: October 4, 2011 (PSN), November 30, 2009 (PC)
ESRB Rating: E – Everyone
If you’re a PS3 gamer who has been longing for a satisfying, addictive, and simple real time strategy game to sink many hours into then you are in luck; Eufloria is available as of today on Playstation Network, and it’s the RTS game that you’ve been looking for.
Strategy games haven’t translated all that well to consoles, mostly due to poor controls stemming from the fact that the games are traditionally PC games that benefit from having a keyboard. Console strategy ports tend to feature overcomplicated controls, a messy user interface, and generally get too bogged down in micromanaging. Eufloria strips all that away to deliver a simple, fun, addicting, and relaxing console strategy experience; that’s especially nice considering the game has been available on PC for almost two years now.
The premise of the game, much like its visuals, is quite simple. You have an asteroid, and you have seedlings. The seedlings are your currency and your army. It takes ten seedlings to grow a tree on an asteroid, and that tree will produce more seedlings. Your objective is to conquer all the asteroids in a belt to win the map and move on to the next mission.
To accomplish that mission is sometimes easier said than done. The PSN version has numerous tweaks and new additions, and one of those tweaks is better AI making for an even more difficult challenge. As you progress through the campaign, you’ll encounter multiple rival seedling empires and the diseased greys, and you’ll all be battling one another for control of the asteroids. Whoever raises the biggest army will win, but its acquiring a big army that takes time, patience, and strategy.
You have to sacrifice seedlings to plant trees to acquire a steady stream of new seedlings, but doing so carelessly and quickly can leave you vulnerable to an attack where you don’t have the seed-power to defend against. This can get especially tricky in the later levels where there are more enemies with larger armies and are generally more aggressive. The key is to scout every asteroid you are able too. You’ll probably lose that seedling in the process, but knowing if an area is safe or quite, or if it is an enemy stronghold goes a long way in helping you plan your next move. It’s always helpful to be able to see the enemy control asteroids so that you can keep an eye on their seedlings and pick up where/when they’re moving troops too and when they’re moving in for an attack.
Seedlings are the only units you get, but the asteroids have different characteristics that will help define and diversify your army. You can get small seedlings, or big seedlings; fast, slow, strong, or weak are all determined by the asteroid. Later in the game, at the sacrifice of a certain number of new seedlings, you’ll be able to terraform an asteroid to change the physical attributes of the seedlings produced from its trees. This addition becomes a necessity in the later levels. The good news with seedlings and trees is that you never have to micromanage them. New seedlings are automatically produced leaving you free to work on other areas of the map. A new addition for the PSN version is the beacon plant, which will send all newly created seeds from one asteroid to another, which is a time saver once you start getting into the bigger maps.
Another time saving addition, and a really a godsend, for the PSN version is the fast forward button. This speeds up the game a little. Eufloria can be challenging, but not overwhelming, but its biggest issue is speed. It takes a time to build up an army, and on the larger maps with many asteroids and enemies controlling those asteroids, it can take a good chunk of time to raise up an enemy to feel comfortable attacking that asteroid with two or three defense trees, a mine floating around it, and 20 or so enemies. Be prepared to have fast forward going with the control sitting in your lap as you browse the Internet while waiting to build up a bigger army so that you actually a chance of conquering the next asteroid.
Thankfully that isn’t a huge issue to me, mainly because it’s really only a problem in the beginning of each match. Once you acquire more and more asteroids, and thus trees, you’ll find that you’re producing huge numbers of seedlings. At that point, you can find yourself waiting not out of necessity, but out of enjoyment. And by enjoyment I mean there’s a strong satisfaction in watching an enemy controlled asteroid be completely taken over by a massive swarm of seedlings. I liken it to a quote from Agamemnon in Troy, “I’ll attack them with the greatest force the world has ever seen.” In the game, that’s called attacking 80 enemies with a 1200 seedling army. The good news is that the further you get in the big maps where you control lots of asteroids it doesn’t even take long to acquire that many seedlings.
Eufloria works tremendously well on the Playstation Network not just because of its minimalist simplicity and ambient gameplay, but also because of a great control scheme. It’s the most pick-up-and-play user friendly control scheme that a strategy can have on a controller. Moving units from one asteroid to another is as simple as selecting an asteroid, pressing X, selecting the asteroid to move to, and then selecting how many seedlings to move before pressing X again. It doesn’t get any simpler than the Eufloria control scheme.
Another great aspect of Eufloria is the custom ambient soundtrack by Brian Grainger. The music really sets the tone for the game as a relaxing experience that you can sink several hours into at a time.
With all that said, the game isn’t perfect. It does have issues; there is too much time spent doing nothing but waiting, it’s all ultimately repetitive (and honestly that goes for every RTS game and the majority of games in general), and for some reason the game would go black for about three seconds once per session.
Luckily, these issues don’t hurt the game too much. Eufloria was developed by two men, Alex May and Rudolf Kremers, and is a perfect example of how great small, indie games can be. Eufloria is absolutely packed with content. From finding ancient artifacts (new to the PSN version), unlocking trophies, to a vast campaign that will take the average player well over 10 hours to complete (there’s a trophy for beating it in under 10 hours), additional skirmish maps, and a Dark Matter mode that allows you to play a darker and more challenging version of the campaign, Eufloria will provide many hours of satisfying real time strategy on a console. For $10 you’re getting a stunning amount of single player content (there is no multiplayer, and understandably so, although it would be pretty cool).
There’s a trial available on the PSN store right now, allowing you to try before you buy. If you like RTS games at all, you’re going to want to pick this game up or at the very least try it out. It’s a stunning game that really is worth your money and your support, even if you already have played it on PC (the PSN version is the developers preferred version).
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.