Seething with ambiance and yet requiring much forethought and strategy, the incredibly experimental Eufloria HD attempts two graft two contrast styles to create a brand-new species of game. On the one hand you’re dropped into a pseudo-abstract world that’s visuals soothe the eyes and massage the ears, and on the other you’re asked to remain ever-present mentally; focused the real-time-strategy warfare that lurks below the surface. Though perhaps a more successful in one respect than another, this unlikely and odd amalgamation does manage to deliver an experience worthy of your attention.
In terms of narrative, Eufloria HD has strong roots in science-fiction. The set up here is that you have been transported to the far reaches of space in the near future. Playing as a race of intergalactic seedlings, the sole reason for your existence is to appease mysterious and figures by the name of the growers, whom it is suggested spawned your very presence. These creators left you long ago, and the omnipresent mother tree- who acts as sort of consciousness for your race – hopes that by accumulating more colonies, these pseudo-mythological creatures will make their return.
As you progress in the story you begin to realize that something evil lurks in the depths, and in order for your species to survive you must find come to understand its origin. Though far-reaching in concept, the story is never intrusive, typically relegated to text introductions and conclusions; with in-game events sprinkled in for good measure. The minimalistic method of delivering fiction removes all barriers, giving you the time and ability to soak in Eufloria HD’s hauntingly beautiful atmosphere.
When it comes to gameplay, Eufloria HD does a fantastic job of translating – an admittedly lighter – real-time-strategy experience to PlayStation Vita through relative simplicity. Controlling the game completely through touch, you take charge of numerous seeds begin your expansion across the galaxy. Seeds are your universal unit. Part resource, builder and soldier; a well thought out approach to their management is essential to your success. These universal units come in three different forms, strong, fast, and energetic; each serving a different purpose.
You can choose use them to create Eufloria’s take on the barracks, called Dyson trees, or you can order them to attack those of another. Each level is littered with asteroids much like yours, brimming with life a flora of their own. Expanding your microscopic empire can be a difficult task as the more establish asteroids are near impervious when faced head-on. In order to launch a fruitful assault you’ll have to bypass your units and manage a completely different resource all together; time. In order to build an army of any significance you will have to allow for your seedlings to take bloom, but as you bide your time so does your opponent, which then leads to little more than a standoff.
Nothing in the world of Eufloria exists in a vacuum however, and as such enemies you face often have enemies of their own. Taking advantage of the various offensive and defensive positions of your opponents is key to overtaking their celestial property. This lingering means of gameplay works best in the early stages where levels are more tightly designed and conflict sits comfortably at your doorstep, later in the game however the constant waiting becomes quite mundane. As the size and scope of the battlefield increases, so does your apathy.
The minimalistic method of delivering fiction removes all barriers, giving you the time and ability to soak in Eufloria HD’s hauntingly beautiful atmosphere
During the early stages of levels Eufloria retains its fluid nature due to a sense of immediacy, but by the half-way point your strategy ends up boiling down to waiting out your resourcing-starved opponent. The result of this stagnation is the transformation of the game from leisurely to tiresome, creating unnecessarily long levels in the process. It should be noted that the developers did include the ability to increase the rate in which time progresses, but even that isn’t enough to salvage Eufloria HD from the lethargic pacing during the latter-half.
Though an abundance of time ultimately works to the detriment of Eufloria HD’s gameplay, it does allow you more time to immerse yourself in its wonderful presentation. Faults aside it is electrified by vibrant neons, and cooled by its soothing pastels; leaving a visual feast for the eyes. Moreover the capacity to zoom in and out of the fray lends you a very different perspective of the world in front of you.
When completely drawn into the cluster you can see life being birthed from a clump of simple seeds. Up close everything exists with a sense of urgency, buzzing with both vitality and brutality at the same time. But if you decide to pull yourself away a sense of tranquility and silence washes over you.
The way you see, hear and subsequently experience the game dramatically shifts depending on your viewpoint. While some may argue that the allusions made by the developers are quite obvious, it doesn’t take away from the awe inspiring context the transition of scope provides. When played in the right conditions Eufloria HD’s peaceful delivery can be all-enveloping and downright soothing.
The juxtaposition that Eufloria HD attempts is nothing less than interesting, but this unique strain of game design isn’t without its faults. Final success is often accompanied by long periods of waiting which draw out many encounters and causes you to linger on the game’s faults. In those moments of sheer tedium it becomes evident that Eufloria would do better to not to incorporate a more diverse assortment of units in order to disrupt its overwhelming parity. However when the game presents itself with a sense of pace, its strange marriage of mechanics and brilliant art style will have you swooning; it’s just too bad it doesn’t do so with much consistency.