Eufloria is unlike any real-time-strategy (RTS) game you’ve probably played before. There is no mindless violence, no fast-paced action, no missions or standout characters, in fact, there’s not a lot of stuff to do either; yet the game has received rave reviews and critical acclaim. Set in a big galaxy, orbiting asteroids need to be conquered by implanting them with trees. The trees evolve seeds which can then be transported to adjacent asteroids to capture them. Planting trees, evolving seeds and moving them around to capture adjacent asteroids doesn’t really sound like much fun, and when you first launch the game you can be instantly put off by the slow pace of the game and the dullness of events, so why has Eufloria become a Google Play Staff Pick and enchanted so many players? A few rounds into the game, I begin to understand.
Eufloria Is A Lesson In Evolution
Deep space, in Eufloria, ain’t pretty and its definitely not inhabited by aliens. Rather, it is a dull place where grey spherical asteroids lay scattered. Your goal in the game is to capture those asteroids using seedlings sent from the Mother asteroid. The difficulty in capturing the asteroids lies in the fact that they house dark and diseased seedlings and deadly plant life. These deadly plants spawn bad seedlings that attack and destroy the good ones. Most enemy asteroids appear lifeless but get activated with the deadly seeds when you target them. To make matters difficult, the plant life on enemy asteroids constantly churn out more and more of the deadly seedlings that soon spread and wreak havoc on the asteroids you colonized. In fact, some of the seeds are so powerful that you need to use specially empowered seedlings to deal with them. Eufloria’s seedlings have three main attributes to combat stubborn enemy seedlings and plants; energy, speed and strength. Sometimes you need energetic and healthy seedlings to destroy the enemies and sometimes you need seeds with more strength and speed. At other times, a combination of one more attributes will do the job.
The Mother asteroid is the source of all good life. It contains enough number of seedlings to help you get started with your first conquest. When you have accumulated 10 or more seedlings you can plant trees that will generate more good seedlings. Trees can be of different types, each type serving a useful function. For instance, initially, you can use 10 seedlings to plant Dyson trees. These trees will spawn more seedlings until it reaches 40 in number. As you progress through the game, you come across other trees such as Defense trees that release pods that track enemy seeds; Beacon plants that allow you to automatically send newly spawned seeds to nearby asteroids; and Terraform trees that allow you to boost your seedling’s energy, strength, or speed. Another layer of complexity in Eufloria comes from the fact that each asteroid has its own attributes and spawns seedlings containing such attributes. So if you capture a larger asteroid, chances are, you will have higher quality seeds that offer more game value.
The Gaming Experience
While all this may seem like a complicated lesson in evolution, the developers of Eufloria have managed to capture the essence of the struggle of the strong over the weak masterfully. There are two game modes (Story Mode and the Skirmish Arenas ) and you will be advised to start the game in the story mode. This is indeed the best way to start playing as an unseen entity called Mother Earth introduces you to the various complex elements of the game as you play.
Most reviews of Eufloria tend to be a bit convoluted and that’s because the entire concept of invading and fighting is surreal. Yet, when you step into this bizarre world and start playing, the experience is brilliant. At no point in time, you feel overwhelmed by all the elements and objects. Eufloria makes use of of all the touch elements of a smart device expertly: you can pinch to zoom in to see the entire map of asteroids, you can double tap asteroids to get detailed information about it, its plant life and their attributes; and you can click and drag around the screen to see neighboring asteroids and galaxies.
Speed control is definitely one of the best assets of Eufloria. You can play it slow, fast, or faster anytime during the game, simply at the tap of a button. Slow speed is good when you’re just getting the hang of the game, but when you progress a few levels into the game, you will want to move a little faster and when you’re in the groove, the fastest level does not seem fast enough. Speed controls are brilliant because you simply won’t have the patience to wait for seedlings to spawn, yet when you are attacked on all sides by enemy seedlings, playing at top speed won’t help you make the right strategic decision. That’s the only ever time you’ll want to slow it down a bit.
Controlling the flow of seedlings is also quite easy. In the Quick send mode you simply need to drag a line from the mother asteroid to the target asteroid and use the green dial to decide how many seedlings you want to transport. Most of the levels in Eufloria look the same, yet have subtle differences and varying objectives. You can unlock two additional levels when you complete the 25 level story mode and also pick up several achievements to show off to your friends.
Divine Graphics, Animation, And Music
It’s really hard to imagine how tiny little seeds, trees, and orbiting entities can be conceptualized into a small screen without appearing chaotic and messy, but Eufloria manages it with aplomb. There is a method to the madness and a serene beauty in its chaos that somehow manages to suck you into this imaginary world and keep you engaged for hours. At times, it feels less like a game in outer space and more like watching cells being attacked by viruses inside a small piece of human tissue! However, when you see a zoomed in view of the plants or trees, flowers and pods, you marvel in it. The sweet lethargic music by Milieu enhances the game play manifold. Even when you turn off the music, you can hear the tiny sounds of the seeds propagating, attacking its enemies and swooshing around; it feels almost ethereal. The music amply complements the smooth animation effects and this is exemplified when colonized asteroids are attacked by enemy seedlings.
In Eufloria, the enemy has no face, yet it exists; there are no guns, weapons or bloodshed, yet there is death and destruction. It has its moments of breathtaking violence, yet at the same time, it also entrances you with the wonder of new life being created. It is surreal, it is tranquil, it is beautiful, and the fight for survival, the desire to defeat evil and the sublime manner in which this is presented to you is refreshing and enjoyable. You may put down the game for a few hours, but at the back of your mind, you’ll be eager to get back for more!
As I mentioned at the start of the game, Eufloria is not a game you will instantly like, but one you will definitely enjoy as you play along. Eufloria is available in Google Play for $4.99, a tad pricey, but if you grab it now you can get it for a happily discounted price of $2.99.