Eufloria

Eufloria CoverOriginally known as Dyson during its prototype stage, Eufloria is self-described as a "space gardening RTS." What that means is not very clear without some description, but in essence, Eufloria is about growth and destruction. Building up your own spores of pollen to seed across the galaxy and wreack havoc on your enemies. Any tree not your color is marked for death and total domination is necessary for your own survival.

Well, that might sound cooler than it actually is, but Eufloria is our latest go-around at Indie Impressions. Developed by a trio of indie devs, Eufloria was released in 2009 for Windows and later released on Linux, OSX, iOS, Android, and PlayStation Network. Here is Steve and Greg's take on the game after playing a few hours.

Steve

I'm not entirely sure what to think about this game. On one hand, it wants to be a stressless "chill" game about populating planets and sectors with your spore kingdom. But on the other hand, the mission difficulty hugely varies and it can be somewhat difficult and stressful at times. The visuals, sound, and gameplay elements are very soothing and relieving, but this contradicts with scenarios where the player starts deep in a hole and needs to quickly and precisely expand in order to have a chance in gaining the upper hand on a map.

Gameplay for each level moves as follows: The player begins with control of some asteroids along with an army of spores. Our task is to proliferate across the region and claim each land matter for the mothertree. Some of these will be bare and ripe for conquer while others contain hostile forces that need to be forcibly removed prior to fertilization. To assume control of each land mass, the player must own a tree to claim its planetary core. On bare planets, a fresh tree must be created, and this requires a sacrifice of ten spores. On populated planets, this requires a hostile tree to be destroyed and root pathways to be accessed for infiltration. As spores bombard the core, the defending asteroids lose their energy. Once conquered, any remaining trees automatically turn over control.

Player-controlled trees create spores over time along with defensive mechanisms, forming a perpetual miniature army. After you have enough trees grown and control enough land mass, victory is but an inevitability. This part of the game is the relaxing one, where you can go about building your army and exploring nearby masses with no real threat to your outcome. But the feverish initial rush and expansion in certain scenarios seems a bit offputting towards this game's experiential goals.

The latest version, Eufloria HD, does not yet have an official release on PC, but it already seems to make strong enhancements to every aspect of its presentation. It also includes a stronger tutorial system and (I assume) some rebalancing to take out some of the difficulty spikes. Judging on a brief trial, this should be an excellent definitive version.

As for my sum impression of the base game, it's pretty, minimalist, generally relaxing, and a fun match if you're looking to play a casual title during some downtime.

Greg

Once again, Steve pretty much steals everything I was going to say, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Eufloria gives off the illusion of being a relaxing game, graphically and aurally similar to NightSky at times, but the gameplay doesn't follow suit. Since it's essentially a real-time strategy game at heart, you'll sometimes need to click and react quickly, defending your asteroids from incoming enemies, or simply build up a huge invading army of your own for an onslaught.

But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my time with it, Eufloria just seems to build up some false expectations. In a game where everything from the music to color scheme makes you want to drift off, it's somewhat bothersome that you actually have to pay close attention to beat certain levels. While the game can be fun, I feel like the developers missed the mark on what kind of game they were going for. I'm not really one to suggest what sort of changes should have been made, but I feel the game forces the player to rely heavily on watching numbers grow bigger and paying close attention to asteroid stats. If they would have translated those quantifiable numbers into something a bit more in tune with the rest of the title, I think Eufloria would mesh together a lot better as a whole.

I would wait for the HD version, as of right now.

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Developer feedback!

Hey guys,

Thanks for the comments. We always try to take on board what people say and that's how we've continued to iterate the game. Eufloria HD really is a different kettle of fish to the original so we would push for any reviews to be of the latest version. Balancing has changed but so have many other little details.

We do plan on adding a proper 'relaxed' mode and levels in our next and major update in spring/summer next year. Indeed, that and additional modding aspects are why we have held back the official PC/mac/Linux HD builds, although they were previewed for humble bundle android owners.

One thing I would say. As people find out when they play more, you can play most levels by amassing seedlings (not all) but you can also play quite differently. We have considered adding a timed mode which forces better players to play more tactically.

The reason I mention this is that it's quite deliberate. We allow players to choose how they play. It's allowed us to cover off a really wide range of gamers and many people who tell us they never play games. Check the iTunes Store reviews and you'll see a little of what we mean. The game is deeper than you may think, just not done by-the-numbers, ie endless slightly upgraded unit types.

It does have a mix of relaxing and feverishness, but that can be partially controlled by the speed and game mode. As a game, it's easy to waste time on, a curiously horrendous amount of time I've found! That said, rudolf wants a relaxed game mode in because he wants players to have the option to totally chill out and just colonise, more or less.

Anyone buying Eufloria on steam will get Eufloria HD in future incidentally.

One minor correction/additional. Eufloria is now developed by 5 people although not all at the same time by any means. Usually only 1 or 2 people, and currently usually none as some of us are doing a spin off game, Eufloria Adventures.

Finally, we just got into Apple's Best of 2012 :) Runner up best iPad game/hidden gem! Woohoo!

Unfortunately, I didn't even

Unfortunately, I didn't even know about Eufloria HD's existence until I was already finished with the impression and doing a little research. Let alone that I had a working early copy from that bundle. I think that both a relaxed mode and a timed one (or say, giving medals for fast times) would be very popular additions. As it stands, there wasn't too much motivation to move quickly aside from levels where you got into an insurmountable hole if you didn't.

The free Steam upgrade is a pleasant surprise I wouldn't have guessed :) And wow, congrats on getting on that award list. That's pretty huge.

Thanks!

Great to hear from you, I've been playing more and have been really enjoying it. Am definitely looking forward to the Eufloria HD release, and will try to provide more impressions for it upon release!

Thanks again and keep up the great work!

I have to disagree with the above.

I think one of Eufloria's greatest strengths is its perchance to juxtaposition. Too many RTS games just load you up with swords, axes, and laser rifles. Eufloria shows you a world of seeds and their trees - then it loads it with seed bombs, and flower turrets. The misdirection is sublime. And, if I may say, it's a proper good challenge the further you get into the game.

Even with its challenge, the game is still a measure of beautiful simplicity. You don't need to know a list of keyboard shortcuts, or recipes for the perfect tech-tree. Asteroids with producing trees will simply produce seedlings; all other tools come at random. A clever thought is that each asteroid will stop producing seeds after a certain number (typically 40 in my experience) are crowded around. This stops you from just building a tanking line with the best stats in seedlings, and also defence trees. You're constantly encouraged to move onwards and upwards.

Now, I do see the point about the stats and the art not quite meshing, but I don't think it's really to the title's detriment. Perhaps it diminishes the art value, but ultimately Eufloria is a simple and streamlined RTS for the person that wants to retain a modicum of difficulty, but without the complexities of typical modern game design. And at its core, it's simply gorgeous. It might not be for everyone, but Eufloria left an impression on me.

And most importantly, it makes me feel awesome at games even when I'm too tired to play anything else effectively.

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