Fresh from the review of The Path, I'mgoing to review another somewhat artsy indie game called Eufloria. Unlike The Path, however, Eufloria doesn't sacrifice (as much) gameplay for art.
From the Steam website:
The game allows the player to explore a beautifully realized universe rendered in a style that is both unique and compelling. Eufloria's aesthetics are reminiscent of children's books like "the little prince" and the gameplay is supported by an original ambient soundtrack by Brian Grainger.
Gameplay revolves around conquering asteroids in space and using their resources to literally grow and nurture new semi-organic plants and creatures to do the player's bidding.
The player is pitched again several teams of AI opponents that all vie for the same resources and can offer fierce opposition.
In short, it's a minimalist real time strategy game in which you send sperm seeds to impregnate planets, which will then create more sperm seeds to impregnate other planets until you win the game. And the sperm seeds fight.
Gameplay in Eufloria starts you offsimple enough. The game starts you off with a few seeds and usually aplanet. From there, you plant dyson trees by sacrificing seeds, with each planet usually able to support up to 4 trees (there are defensive trees also). Strangely, if your planet is occupied by 40 seeds already, then it'll stop producing seeds, so you'll need to move your sperm seeds off to another planet to produce more.
*wink wink nudge nudge thrust thrust*
The main objective through the game is to more or less colonize all other planets like this. Combat is simplified in that your seeds will automatically engage enemy seeds, and like a Civilization game, the winner is determined by numbers and other factors like energy and strength that I really didn't quite understand. All the while, the game is set in a pretty stylistic and minimalist fashion, and you can watch as your sperm colonizes egg planets and watch as your trees grow and mature (at least I think that's the analogy). But realistically, you're going to be zoomed out managing your colonies, so the game just looks like the screenshot below:
Minimalist is just another word for low budget...or lazy
Eufloria's hit or miss gameplay depends on how the player approaches the game. After your seedsbecome trees (either offensive or defensive), you start to play the waiting game. Your trees start off small and take time to reach full maturity; but while seeds can be produced before maturity, they produce at a pretty slow rate. And because Eufloria is a game that emphasizes zerg rushing, you're going to want a lot of seeds thatproduce at a pretty slow rate. If you play RTS games, you'll know this is the slow, boring waiting process to produce that super-awesome unit. For gamers expecting adrenaline, this game is definitely not for you, as you will be staring at the screen waiting for paint to dry as you ready your troops, unless you for some reasonenjoy watching trees grow. For players who approach the game more lightly, this pace is probably more for you. If you're doing something else, ie, taking a dump, doing homework, or watching TV,this is the game for you, as it doesn't demand constant attention. If you alt-tab the game, the game will still keep running, allowing you to do other stuff.
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
Another element of possible frustrationis the AI in Eufloria. I've read in a review that in Eufloria, the enemies don't attack. That's simply not the case. There are two modes in Eufloria, original and dynamic, and in both modes the enemy will attack your planets. The frustration is not in their aggressiveness, but on their unpredictability. If you attack an enemy planet, will they reinforce that planet? Will they surrender it? Will they attack a different planet of yours? This probably would have been moderated by a quicksave button, but that's leftout of the game. And, ironically, this really kills the zen-like nature of the game by giving you a heavy dose of anxiety. In one level, for example, I was told of an incoming invasion at the beginning, so I had to flee; but when I did, the enemy still found me and annihilated my forces. I had to play the same level a number of times, and when I did win, it's because the enemy AI was merciful and decided not to zerg rush me for some reason, or you had to follow some path the developer came up with or be wiped out. Apparently getting zerg rushed over and over again is mentally therapeutic? Did I mention that the alt-tab thing doesn't work when the enemy suddenly decides to stop pussying around and zerg rushes your base?
$hit! fu-k! c_nt KNOCKER! @$! *slams keyboard and headbutts monitor*
And finally, the last area of complaint is the control and management of your troops. Eufloria is designed to be simplistic and easy to control, and it shows; you can only tell your troops to seed or move, and you can only move them when they're on a planet. Problems arise when combined with the above mentioned unpredictable AI. I've had troops invade a neighboring planet, and the AI responded by invading the planet from which my seeds launched. I actually had to wait for ALL of my troops to finish landing to recall my troops back to defend my planet. I've encountered numerous times in which I've sent troops to defend against an attacker, only for the attacker to attack a different planet while my troops moved right past them, and then shake my fists at the heavens. We've been able to get troops to cancel movement orders since before Warcraft, so this isn't exactly a breakthrough idea here. In addition, troops don't have the same attack ability, which is needlessly divided between strength and energy (not sure what the difference is). So some troops are born stronger than others, but there's no real way to differentiate them when you eventually mix them together, either to overcome the 40 troop count limit or because you need to gather your troops on the same planet to launch at an enemy. The result is a clusterfu-k of what-the-hell-is-this motley group of strong sperm and weak sperm. In one of the most lawl battles I've had, I've sent over 500 weak sperm seeds to their death against a hundred aryan ones. Outstanding.
The game's system requirements are:
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP SP2; Windows Vista
Graphics: Currently not compatible with Intel's onboard integrated mobile graphics chipsets.
Processor: 1 GHz
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 50 MB
The game will obviously run well on most modern desktops and notebooks, but I had trouble setting the resolution on my netbook. There's a demo available on steam for the game, so try that before you purchase the game for systems that only support unconventional resolutions.
I didn't notice any particular bugs, unless that 40 sperm seed unit cap counts. The game has a robust 25 level single player campaign, with a number of additional modes, multiplayer, and map editor, so there's plenty of replay value. It usually cost about $15, which is pretty steep for a game where the maps just randomize white balls and the troops are all one colored. I, however, got this in a bundle, so I pretty much got it for $1, which is noteworthy considering that I spent about a week (a kind of lackluster one) at the game. Unless you get your rocks off watching sperm seeds zerg rush eggs, I'd wait for the game to be on sale.
Eufloria is an all right game, but its oversimplicity really does hurt the game. The above negative points I mention really make the game feel either repetitive, overly simple, or frustrating, but it is rewarding at times when you finally amass your massive army and skeet all over the enemy forces. Overall, it's a pretty satisfactory game; you can do better, but you can do worse. Try the demo to see if you like it, and maybe pick it up when it's on sale or when you want a relaxing zen-like zerg-rushing experience.
- The game should use a quicksave/quickload button, especially considering the erratic behavior of the AI
- How about a way to better control your forces? A stop button, or a way to organize your forces better could go a long way
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