Games are meant to be a reprieve from our daily lives. Games are meant to entertain us and give us a little break from reality. Everything from a simple puzzle game to an engrossing console game. The basic purpose is the same.
The iPad has definitely proven itself as a valid gaming device of sorts and boasts many titles that serve the exact purpose I describe above. Most do this to some degree, but you could say some games are naturally better at this than others. I was searching for that completely engrossing experience and I decided to explore a game called Eufloria hoping to find just that.
Design & Feel
Overall, Eufloria has a very airy and kind of other-worldy type sensation to it. There are lots of soft colored images and semi-transparent boxes. That combined with the sort of eerie background music and the flowing motion of components throughout do wonders for putting you in the world of the game, which is both creepy and calming at the same time. It’s strange, but true.
For any game to succeed in its ability to transplant you to another place while you’re playing, some serious thought on the design of the game and all of the encompassing menus and screens and messages needs to be put in. It’s completely obvious that just about every element in Eufloria was created under this microscope.
From the second you start the game you feel like you’re venturing off into another world.
There is a constant mysterious element in the game as well. From the beginning you’re only given bits of information. The story does evolve and start to make more sense as you progress throughout the game, but throughout most of the game you’ll have that sensation like you’re wondering what could possibly be happening next. It’s not confusing, it spurs your curiosity in continual exploration of this mythical new world.
I guess we should probably get to what type of game Eufloria is exactly. Well, it would fall into that real-time strategy category. You’re essentially controlling a population and a force (a really strange and different force) and searching out new territory while defending your own. That is an over-simplification of the game, but the general mechanics fall in line with the RTS type of game.
While I say that the mechanics are common, the actual way the game is played is different. Different from anything that I’ve played at least. I’ve played a few of the RTS games on a computer in past years and I can say that the touch element of the iPad is a really wonderful addition to this type of game. I’ll admit, my experience with other RTS games on the iPad is pretty limited, but I can’t imagine any game implementing such elegant controls as Eufloria.
It is a little difficult to describe how you manage your force, but it’s quite intuitive and you’ll be able to pick it up right away.
As you progress in the game things will get more complicated. New elements will be added and the controls will get more complicated as well. Games like this can get slightly stressful at certain times, but I have rarely felt confused in those times. I’m able to control what I need to when I need to even when there are more elements to control.
I think that is a product of both the design of the game as well as the the natural use of the iPad touch interface with a game like this.
This is the main gameplay mode of the game. It is basically as it sounds. This is the mode that gradually reveals more about this world as you pass through level after level.
Your force consists of seedlings that are in constant orbit around asteroids. They can be planted to build trees that can create more seedlings. These creatures are capable of attacking enemies as well as defending themselves.
Your missions always revolve around creating new seedlings to build your force and moving them around to new astroids to claim as your territory. There are many other weapon elements as well as different types of seedlings and they will become available as you move through the game.
Battling your enemies to either defend your territory or in an attempt to acquire new territory is a huge part of the game.
You’re able to pinch-zoom out to better see your full territory as well as pinch-zoom to view the battle happening up close.
I have to say, this is extremely cool and I found myself watching battles transpire close up when it made more sense to be managing the force elsewhere.
There will be something that you need to accomplish to pass each level and unlock the next. It might be as simple as discovering all the new asteroids in your area or defending your current territory.
As you accomplish each goal a bit more of the story will be revealed. It’s a fairly addicting element to the game. For the most part you will know enough to pass the current mission. New game elements will be released as elements of the ever evolving story. That "needing to see what’s next" feeling is a continual one.
This portion of the game separates from the Story Mode. There are eight different arenas to play from and each has its own mission or goal.
When you complete a mission your time is recorded. In this mode you can pick up the game whenever and hop into a skirmish to see if you can beat your previous time. The mission stays the same so you can attempt different strategies each time you play to better your score.
Skirmish arenas are unlocked as you progress through the story mode, but there is an option to simply unlock the skirmish mode arenas in the game menu – this is a nice element to add in. If you want to progress through the game and let things unlock as you go along, that’s fine. And if you’re the type that just wants to check everything the game has to offer right off the bat then that’s fine too.
Dark Matter Mode
There’s not a lot different with this mode but it’s something that you’ll unlock once you move far enough in story mode.
Dark matter mode allows you to play story mode levels over again with the difficulty level raised. Another added element is that you need to conquer all asteroids in the area as well as complete the mission to pass the level. That isn’t necessary in most story mode levels.
And yes, when you’re in dark matter mode the whole experience is darker. The world you play in is now darker and thus more ominous. Ok, that’s not necessarily true, but I suppose it adds a bit to this more difficult gameplay mode.
You move through levels here as well, unlocking one at a time as you complete the mission. You can go back and replay each level to try to beat your previous time to completion.
Eufloria is one of those games that will wow you. Not only is the game extremely engaging and fun to play it’s beautiful as well. It takes a common game type and makes it feel fresh again. Part of this is due to the new device that we have to build these games on but another part of it is credit to the developers for building such an interesting game.
This game will truly take you to another world. It does so so well it’s almost a problem. I actually feel like I spent too much time with the game when I first started playing it. That’s not a knock at all. Quite the opposite. When I am segmenting "Eufloria time" in my day you know you’ve got me hooked.
For the amount of time I have put into it (and completely enjoyed I might add) I will say that it is well worth the $4.99 price tag. And I still have yet to make it through the entire game. Oh, that reminds me, it’s "Eufloria time".