Review: Eufloria HD

Eufloria takes a strong influence from the “Dyson Tree Hypothesis” by Freeman Dyson. A genetically engineered plant (in Eufloria’s case a tree) may have the potential to grow inside a comet, producing its own liveable atmosphere on a comet for sustenance, as well as photosynthesizing energy from the sun. Whilst this is the premise and underlying inspiration for the game, there is much more to discover.

At the beginning, you are in control of one lonely seed orbiting an asteroid, guided by the Mother Tree’s wisdom. She instructs you and educates you on the intricate details of your journey to bring back the creators of the universe which are known as Growers. Quite quickly you discover the greys, an opposing colony which is eventually revealed to be driven mad by a form of disease. Later you find another colony infected the greys at the risk of destroying themselves and now  they must over power all opposing colonies.

Upon booting up Eufloria you are exposed to an audio and visual sensation. Instantly taking in the brilliantly used watercolour aesthetic of the game, which, according to the developers, was mixed with inspirations from nature and Japanese art. They couldn’t have nailed this statement any more accurately. Even though the created world consisting of round asteroids, sticks, and dots circling around them doesn’t appear like much when you are zoomed out, zooming in reveals a world of wonders. The different sized asteroids become balls of an amazing colour, filled with life right from their very core. Reaching out are the Dyson trees, with deep roots borrowed to the base of the earth, a strong trunk emerging from the ground and branches stretching outward.  Seedlings swarm the asteroids you occupy until commanded otherwise. To me they look like insects, yet they resemble spaceships, especially when in battle. Shooting a beam of some sort to decimate the Grey or other opposition that populate your next conquest only further supports my claim. The art style behind Eufloria is remarkably unique and needs to be seen to gauge a complete concept of it.

The music is a soothing, pleasurable experience. Calming the soul and suitably accompanying the idea of growth and exploration. Just like the visuals, the music is unique for its own reasons. These two great aspects mould together very well and, complete the overall formula for the appropriate mood of the game. It makes it difficult to remember that Eufloria is actually a real time strategy that requires your utmost attention, because in some instances, I found myself charmed and enchanted by this wonderful display of aesthetics.

Utilizing the Vitas touchscreen functionality is perhaps the most brilliant feature of this port. You, the player, are introduced to each level, controlling a small asteroid with one tree. You then build stores of seedlings through the naturally occurring germination cycle, then choose to better your current asteroid by planting more Dyson trees (which requires 10 seedlings) or to move on. Moving on to the next asteroid can prove to be quite easy or disastrous depending on what lurks on the next asteroid, sending out a single seedling scout to discover the potential dangers the uncharted asteroid may contain is always the safest bet.

Whenever an asteroid gets populated with enemies, you must ensure you have the sufficient numbers to eradicate the enemy from that area. Once the seedlings have defeated the opposition they burrow to the core and sap the energy from the asteroid claiming it for your own. It is then up to you to either grow more Dyson trees, Defence trees or a combination of both (both requiring 10 seedlings for each growth). Building your force of seedlings to conquer asteroids and achieving the required task will see the level complete.

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As you progress you can eventually add flowers to either tree which provides its own unique benefits, attack flowers and defense flowers for the appropriate tree. As each asteroid you plant a Dyson tree on produces seedlings, it can become quite tedious, continually sending seedlings to your most recently captured asteroid to advance, thankfully, there is a beacon that can send all your seedlings to a desired location; making that long trek across the space of a level so much easier.

If you feel the pacing is too slow or too frantic for you at any one time, there is a speed selection in the upper left hand of the screen. Simply tap for a more comfortable speed and there you go. I found this particularly useful when I was building up my stock of seedlings, then proceeded to slow it down again as I watched the zoomed in battles for the asteroids (which is explained in presentation).

There can be sudden bumps in the A.I which keep the levels interesting and quite challenging. At times I had to restart a few levels after realizing the ideal tactic to success, which is the trademark of a great strategy game. For the players who aren’t quite up to the challenge, there is the excellent option of selecting a more relaxed play style. Given the charming beauty of this game I found the “relaxed” setting to be much more enjoyable and provided me with a greater opportunity to fully immerse myself and enjoy the beauty and wonder that is Eufloria.

Each level is randomly generated to a certain extent; this mainly includes aspects of the surrounding asteroids, like their size, layout and growing/producing abilities. There are other values such as speed, strength and energy which influence how fast the seedlings can produce and their abilities.

The story modes’ 25 levels serve as a good introduction to the game, preparing the player for the unlockable skirmish and dark matter modes. Skirmish mode is a standalone mission set, utilizing your previously acquired skills, While Dark Matter mode is basically the story with much harder enemies.

I went into Eufloria considerably blind, not knowing a great deal about it other than it had seen a few releases in its history. Getting a hold of it has been nothing but a sheer pleasure. Whilst the concept is the same and can be said of all real time strategy games. There is something much more intriguing to behold in this game, right from the moment you pick it up. The organic and deeply inspired visuals to the soothing sounds of the music accompanying your gameplay are unique and charming. This new release introduces Eufloria to the PS Vita and the touchscreen use of the Vita couldn’t come more natural, perfectly fusing the already natural aesthetics and soundtrack. A great opportunity for hardcore or casual players with the appropriate play settings (challenged and relaxed respectively) is to be had. Unfortunately, there was no multiplayer option available, a feature which I feel this game could have great success in. Apart from that, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Eufloria for anyone to play. It is a delightful experience that should not be missed.