Eufloria is a real-time strategy game unlike any other I’ve played. At its core, the objectives are the same as any other – build units and deploy them to fight the enemy – but that’s where Eufloria’s similarity to traditional RTSs ends.
At the beginning of each level you have control over one or more asteroids. On these grow ‘Dyson trees’ that spawn ‘seedlings’ which are both your army and your resource in Eufloria. In general, the aim of each level is to conquer other asteroids grow your empire. You do this by planting more Dyson trees, creating ever more powerful seedlings and sending them to invade and capture rival asteroids.
At first, players who enjoy the micro-management available is many RTSs may be a little taken aback by the lack of such finite control in Eufloria but I soon found that it was more liberating that it was restrictive. Early-on in the game you can only issue commands on which asteroid to go to and how many seedlings to send but the gameplay soon gets much deeper. Later on you can choose to deploy either faster seedlings to get past a heavily-defended asteroids, stronger seedlings to destroy enemies more easily or seedlings with more energy which can burrow into and capture rival asteroids more quickly. A seedling’s ability is determined by the asteroid which spawned it so you must strategically place your trees if you want to ensure you have the most efficient colony.
Aside from Dyson trees, there are a variety if other defensive and strategic plants available which you’ll need to make good use of if you want to keep hold of your ever-growing chain of asteroids. As plants and trees grow they consume an asteroid’s core energy but also become stronger and more productive. Some plants can also have power-ups applied to them in the form of flowers which enable special abilities.
Eufloria looks beautiful and in terms of atmosphere, feels more akin to Pixeljunk Eden or Flower than it does to the likes of Command & Conquer. It’s all to easy to simply forget about conquering planets and I often found myself just staring gormlessly at the game’s visuals. It’s hypnotic to watch as you issue a command and see thousands of your seedlings depart from your asteroid and invade an enemy’s, overwhelming it. Eufloria’s pastel palette and vector-style artwork scale seamlessly as you zoom from a wide view where colonies of seedlings appear to swarm like tiny insects, right down to individual units engaged in dogfights.
Eufloria’s story is simple and while it’s enjoyable enough it doesn’t really add much to this wholly gameplay-based title and is easy to ignore. What’s not so easy to ignore are the controls. Eufloria started life as a PC title and it’s clear that the transition from mouse to DualShock hasn’t been entirely successful. Targeting asteroids can be less than intuitive and I occasionally found it difficult to get the camera pointed at what I wanted to see, particularly when zoomed-in a long way. Fortunately, the game’s laid-back pace never calls for lightening-fast reactions so these minor frustrations did little to detract from my enjoyment of it.
Fans of real-time strategy will find this PlayStation Network title a refreshing change from the bloody, grittynees they’re used to while those unfamiliar with the genre may well find it to be their RTS ‘gateway drug’. Eufloria is an at-times stunning looking game which gives a much need shot of innovation to an age-old genre.
Disclosure: Eufloria was provided to me for review by SCEE who had no influence over the review’s content.