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Review: Eufloria 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the growing-on-you dept.
eldavojohn writes "Eufloria is a strategy game made by independent game company Dyson. I bought it on the Steam service this weekend for $20 and was impressed that it is a visually and aurally pleasing game. It's a real-time strategy game, but isn't a rehashed Civilization or Age of Empires — it employs a different kind of mechanic to conquer. Like a lot of games that rely on novel game mechanics (Braid & Spore come to mind), part of the game's experience relies on you learning as you progress through the 25 or so levels. They will definitely push you to utilize different strategies and tactics, so don't read this review if you're already planning to play this game, as it'll most likely be filled with spoilers about developing a strategy. I give the game an average 6 out of 10 and would like to say that with titles like Braid and Eufloria out there, 'independent' no longer equates to 'sucks.'" Read on for the rest of his thoughts.
  • Title: Eufloria
  • Developers: Alex May, Rudolf Kremers
  • Publisher: Omni Systems
  • System: Windows
  • Reviewer: eldavojohn
  • Score: 6/10

The game's graphics and soundtrack are seemingly procedurally generated. If you find things like OS X and the Wii simple and aesthetically pleasing, then this game's for you. The very first thing I noticed was zooming. This game makes you feel as if you're staring at a petri dish, and you're capable of watching from 30,000 feet with little bugs flying around asteroids or you can zoom in and observe the battles the bugs are having. The music is very ambient and strangely soothing. Not only do your seedlings grow procedurally (depending on when you click the plant button) but the music seems to react to your movements and the commands sent to your guys. It's really an enjoyable experience that can make the hours melt away as you listen and enjoy the organic movement and music.

The gameplay is reminiscent to that of Risk ... except vastly simpler. The early levels basically run themselves, and it becomes increasingly complicated and more difficult. Multiple enemies, different kinds of weapons and decreased odds of winning slowly stack more and more against you. In this respect, patience is often a virtue as you grow more seedlings or wait for two enemies to attack each other, giving you a chance to win. Several times, however, my territory served as a battle area for the AI, destroying any chance I had. The early strategies being simple, I found myself employing a scout and move strategy to stay alive in later levels.

For what this game tries to be, it succeeds. The downsides of the game are more the additional features than a shortcoming in the design or the gameplay. As levels grew larger and more complex, I found myself staying at the highest possible view of my seedlings and conquered asteroids. It became a numbers game, with the strategy focusing on where to set up defense and where to set up offense. This becomes necessary to be aware of everything going on around you, but it reduces the graphics of the procedurally-generated trees and flights of your seedlings to blurry dots on the screen. While aiding you, it removes you from the things that make this game beautiful. An unfortunate side effect, for me.

Another flaw of the game is a pretty weak storyline. With trees and seedlings as your "actors," there's not a whole lot of human emotion and therefore the storyline (while containing a twist) seems weak and tacked on. Along with that, the game is short. You could squeeze perhaps 20 hours out of this game ... depending on how much patience you have. If you start doing bad at a level, you can always just start over and wait for the computer AI to slip up. The AI is not the best in this game. Several times the computer could have wiped me off the map ... but for some unknown, humanitarian reason chose not to. While that made it much easier for me, it sure destroyed my sense of accomplishment. All too often I got away with being very poorly defended.

The last complaint is a common one: no online mode. I imagine all my strategies would be revolutionized were I pitted against other players. When you play this game, you'll realize that it has a lot of player-versus-player potential, like the majority of RTS games rely on. And yet, there is no online or even LAN capabilities. Unfortunately, multi-player is not in the plans for Dyson's future.

Eufloria is a beautiful game and is priced reasonably. If you're an RTS fan, this game's for you. If you're a gamer who'd rather be planting bullets than trees, or a gamer who needs multi-player online play then this game isn't for you ... but it might be a nice break to steal away every now and then for a few moments of ambient music and procedurally-generated beauty.

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Review: Eufloria

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  • Videos (Score:5, Informative)

    by snarfies (115214) on Monday November 23, 2009 @12:45PM (#30203228) Homepage

    The images on the official website aren't loading (probably slashdotted already), but even if they were, I don't think I'd have had a very good sense of what this game looks like without a video.

    Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBXpNpwDFzw [youtube.com]
    Gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EneQefAchHQ [youtube.com]

    Reminds me a little of another recent independent game, Osmos. Check it out at http://www.hemispheregames.com/osmos/ [hemispheregames.com]

  • by MaraDNS (1629201) on Monday November 23, 2009 @12:46PM (#30203244) Homepage Journal
    For people who like abstract open-source games, Cultivation [sourceforge.net] is a very interesting tiny (400k, 300k 7-zip compressed) game. You need to grow a garden, mate, and have children to win the game.
  • Other games. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tei (520358) on Monday November 23, 2009 @01:20PM (#30203614) Journal

    Go get your googles:
      - Galcon, better version of the Stars! idea.
      - Gratitous Space Battles. strategic shop design
      - Mount & Blade. Medieval sandbox withouth termination date (infinite gameplay) with a awesome community (YES, there are a LOTR and German and Star Wars mods)
      - Plants and Zombies (there are zombies on your lawn)
      - Puzzle Quest

    And If you want FPS arcade:
      - Tremulous (gloom like gameplay)
      - OpenArena (quake3 like gameplay)

  • Re:Dyson. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Monday November 23, 2009 @01:44PM (#30203866) Homepage

    That's why they changed the name. :) It's based on the Dyson Tree [wikipedia.org] concept, but they didn't want confusion with the vacuum cleaners.

    Looking over how gameplay works, it kind of makes me think of "Masters of Orion", but, realtime, and with trees. Now they just need to make the enemies demand a tribute of negative money and create fleets of MAXINT or negative numbers of seedlings, then they'll be all set! ;)

  • Re:For the record... (Score:3, Informative)

    by IQgryn (1081397) on Monday November 23, 2009 @01:55PM (#30203994)
    Large shell scripts, on the other hand are perfectly acceptable.
  • Re:Other games. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2009 @02:46PM (#30204550)

    Googles gotten:

    Galcon [galcon.com]
    Gratuitous Space Battles [positech.co.uk]
    Mount & Blade [taleworlds.com]
    Plants [wikipedia.org] vs. Zombies [popcap.com]
    Puzzle Quest [wikipedia.org]

    Tremulous [tremulous.net]
    OpenArena [openarena.ws]

  • by Brian Feldman (350) <<gro.DSBeerF> <ta> <neerg>> on Monday November 23, 2009 @08:28PM (#30208654)

    The game's standard campaign (contrasted with user-generated levels which I have not played around with yet, though there is a community of mission makers on the official forums) generally picks one of two criteria for winning. Depending on the mission, you must either:
    1. Colonize every asteroid in the map.
    2. Eradicate those species that are not your own.

    You start off each level owning a particular asteroid, and you may have some seedling-generating trees and/or some seedlings with which to spread your colony, and perhaps you will have some defense trees as well. You start off with a fog of war that prevents viewing the particular objects on other asteroids as well as asteroids that are too far from territory you own. Up to an asteroid's total capacity of trees, you may spend ten seedlings and either sprout a tree to generate more seedlings or a tree that protects that one asteroid with homing missiles.

    Given a single seedling, you may scout any other asteroid within range (one of the planet's attributes) of one of your owned asteroids in order to lift the fog of war, displaying all activity that occurs near the previously-undiscovered asteroid. Any number of seedlings may be commanded to take a journey through your claimed territory, and if they happen upon an empty asteroid, you can plant ten of them on it and one of either kind of tree that you may create is sufficient to claim the asteroid. If the asteroid is already inhabited, a battle will ensue. Your seedlings will now attack their trees and their seedlings! You may not use this asteroid to jump to another directly because you do not own it, but you may retreat, recalling your seedlings to an asteroid you own. If you succeed in destroying an enemy tree, your seedlings start infiltrating the root system of the planet, attacking its gradually-replenishing core energy. If enough seedlings are allowed to infiltrate to reduce the core energy to zero, you immediately gain ownership of the asteroid; the destroyed tree is now a seedling of a seedling-generator tree and all of the remaining trees change ownership to you.

    The rest of the gameplay mechanics are smaller details: old seedling-generator trees will eventually produce a flower which can be used to upgrade any tree you own to make it produce super-seedlings or an exploding battleship of sorts, depending on which type of tree you upgraded. There is a cap to how many seedlings an asteroid will generate if left ignored. Attributes of the asteroid confer better speed or strength or infiltration efficiency to the seedlings generated by that asteroid. That's mostly it, though. I hope this is a good summary; the user manual is huge but I feel playing the demo and reading this summary should be enough to understand the game!

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