Eufloria (PS3): This one’s not just pretty to look at

October 17, 2011

PSN is second only to Steam in terms of providing us with great indie games at great prices. Eufloria is the latest in a long line of PSN games that are not only beautiful to look at, but challenging to play as well. The minimalist aesthetic betrays just how hectic and challenging things can get in later levels,so don’t write Eufloria off as a piece of art with some light RTS elements: it’s a real RTS whose simple gameplay concepts get cranked up to 11, and serves as proof that you don’t need hundreds of units to make a compelling skirmish.

There is no real story to speak of in Eufloria. Sure, there is a driving force telling you to spread your seedlings to every planet, but you never find out why it is imperative to do so. In Warcraft, you know that, regardless of which side you fall on, you’re fighting for your people. In StarCraft, it’s easy to see which race is the bad guy. Here, your only option is to use your seedlings to wipe out the grey seedlings that, aside from color, look just like you do. It could just be nature being nature (survival of the fittest), or, as with so many other indie games, it could be a statement about blindly following orders without pausing to think about the ramifications. If (yes, if, the campaign gets very challenging) you complete the campaign, there will be no more grey seedlings left. And it will have been you who did that. The minimalist approach to storytelling really gives the player room to think about things and draw their own interpretation, instead of having the story handed to them and fighting for whichever side is written as the good guys.

Mechanically, Eufloria is simple. Build trees on planets. Use those trees to create seedlings. Send those seedlings to create trees on other planets or to fight grey trees and seedlings. That’s it – trees and seedlings. Seedlings’ stats are affected by the type of planet they’re spawned from, but you’ll never move up the tech tree and eventually build carriers to lay waste to your opponents. You’ll build fast seedlings on energetic planets and tough seedlings on dense planets. The AI is persistent and will be doing the same thing. so each battle boils down to taking the best planets early on to spread your influence across the map. Some of the later maps are most definitely set up to put you at a disadvantage. The lack of mid-level save can be frustrating, as levels can take a long time to complete ,and you’ll lose all of your work if you accidentally send a batch of seedlings to their doom instead of to colonize a new planet (an eventuality that pops up all too often, thanks to trying to clumsily select planets with the PS3 controller). Like most other RTS games, Eufloria feels most at home on the PC, because you can use the mouse to easily select and manipulate units.

There is fun and challenge to be had here, and Eufloria excels just as much as work of art as it does as a competent RTS, but if you have the option you’ll be better served by playing on the PC. You’ll miss the fast forward option, but you’ll have an easier time sending seedlings where they belong, and I’d gladly trade usability for convenience any day.

Pros: Elegant, artistic game with interesting strategies
Cons: We still recommend the PC version

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.