Eufloria is a game about spreading the beauty of nature in a real-time strategy (RTS) setting. It found success as a PC title and is now attempting to translate that same appeal to PSN. For the most part, Eufloria remains an enjoyable experience, though there are some aspects of the game that come across awkwardly in its new console iteration.
The object of Eufloria is to populate asteroids and fill them with the maximum number of seedling-reproducing trees. This is done by sending over seedlings to unpopulated asteroids, which may or may not be populated by hostile seedlings. There are several elements of RTS games that can be seen here. Trees are constantly producing new seedlings for exploration. Unexplored asteroids are covered by a "fog of war" type gray color. Hostiles are dealt with by sending out large numbers of seedlings to take them out. At times the easy to learn and simple to execute mechanics make the game seem almost like "Real-time Strategy for Dummies." The presentation is intentionally minimalistic and the game’s tutorials walk players through every step of the way, which is a breath of fresh air to those unaccustomed to RTS titles.
But for first-timers, the time it takes to play a session of Eufloria will be off-putting. Often times, success is dependent on growing a large number of seedlings and moving them forward en masse, but forming a large army is time consuming. The game offers an option to speed the flow of time while waiting for seedlings to pop up, but the process doesn’t become any less tedious. In one instance, I hit a bump in the road when I sent over all 75 of my available seedlings to an unexplored asteroid and I watched as they were summarily obliterated by enemy forces. The only thing left for me was to wait for more seedlings to reproduce. Even with the game playing out in double-time, it was an excruciatingly long wait.
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The other challenge I faced with Eufloria on the PlayStation 3 was the inherent restrictions of using a controller. As I played through the game, it became clearer to me that it is better suited to a mouse and keyboard. Charting out courses with the analog sticks often feels awkward. More awkward still is the camera control, which is controlled with the shoulder buttons. I had several instances in which I would try and look over at an asteroid where my seedlings were doing battle, but felt like I was fighting the camera controls the whole way. It becomes difficult to shake off the old console player stigma of the right analog stick as camera control. Eufloria doesn't suffer from an overall gameplay standpoint because of the console control scheme, but it does make this console iteration feel inferior to its PC brethren.
Despite a few limitations inherent in a console port, Eufloria still achieves its Zen-like goal. It offers an alternative to the frantic, stressful nature of other RTS games and, instead, offers something more relaxing. Eufloria is easy to pick up and play and perfectly suited to its simple visuals and ambient soundtrack. It's worth setting aside an hour of the day to play this game--just don’t expect much in terms of fast-paced action.
[Review is based on a download copy of the PS3 version of the game, provided by the publisher. Eufloria is also available on PC.]