I went into Eufloria HD not really knowing what to expect. I knew very little about the game, hell I didn’t even know which genre it came under; I wrongly assumed it was a minimalistic puzzle game, so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was a reasonably complex RTS.
Your task on the majority of the 25 levels is to colonize all the asteroids or defeat all enemy civilizations. You do this by sending your seedlings to surrounding asteroids, to fight and overtake whatever may be on said asteroid. Ten seedlings can be transformed into a tree that will either periodically spawn more seedlings or will send out missiles when the asteroid is attacked. Generating the right mix of trees and tactical positioning are the keys to success.
In the early stages of the game almost any tactic will work, apart from the downright stupid, but once the game progresses it becomes a lot harder. Waiting to accumulate a huge army of seedlings can seem like the way to victory, but often small, early attacks or swift movements to avoid fights is by far the better option. Deciding on the best tactic is not always easy, and often the only way is to try one idea and see how it plays out, building from there.
Even when you decide upon a worthy tactic it can often take numerous attempts to execute it correctly. Vastly experienced RTS players will be able to rip though the game quite quickly with few failures, but others, even those with some RTS experience like myself will often struggle. Rarely does the game become frustrating, as it is usually your mistake to blame the failure on. If you really do get stuck on a level, you can simply go to the options menu and unlock the next one, but no one really wants to cheat like that, do they?
Being a port of an iOS game, Eufloria HD makes no use of the Vita’s buttons, instead making sole use of the front touch screen. Fortunately the touch controls work incredibly well: simply tap an asteroid to select it, hit an on-screen button and then tap an asteroid to send your seedlings. You can select how many seedlings to send via a wheel that you can shade in to show a percentage of that asteroid’s seedlings, almost like a good old-fashioned pie chart. Despite the Vita’s relatively small screen I never once felt like my hand was in the way, unlike many other titles.
Eufloria’s art style is minimalistic but unbelievably effective. When fully zoomed in to an asteroid you can see each of the individual seedlings in incredible detail and every branch on a tree, but the visuals are even more impressive when fully zoomed out. Seedlings are still easily identifiable – the trees even more so, obviously – but what looks truly great is when hundreds of seedlings are circling a single asteroid.
To go along with the minimalistic art there is an equally minimalistic story. It certainly isn’t in-depth, but it offers enough to give you a reason to play and to keep you intrigued about what happens next.
VERDICT: Eufloria HD may come as a pleasant surprise. The simple controls allow for an easy entry and the game does a great job of introducing the systems at a slow and manageable pace. Once it gets going it offers a real challenge, which results in an amazing sense of achievement when a level is finally beaten.
A few more levels or a more detailed story wouldn’t have gone amiss, and some may have preferred button controls, but these issues don’t stop Eufloria HD being great fun and a simple introduction to RTS games.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.