Eufloria is a game that defines some of my earliest days with indie games, and it’s far from showing its age. There are those who would have you believe that indie is a style that can be encapsulated in a game with a whacky storyline or super-artsy hand-painted backgrounds, but I call bullshit on that. You don’t have to put girls in cakes to make an indie game: what you need is balls. Eufloria shows a lot of that brazen attitude in the way it took a bizarre concept, ran with it, made it work and did the whole fucking job well. That is how you indie.
Eufloria is a game where you take control of an army of flying seedlings, and then impregnate various ‘asteroids’ with them. The key to this army is their flexibility. depending on the characteristics of the asteroid that spawns them, they will have a mix of 3 traits: energy, speed and strength. Depending on their combination of these traits, they will look different. If they have a higher strength, they will have a longer tail, of they have higher speed they will have wider tails and if they are energetic they will have longer beaks. Each of these traits translates into something completely different in game.
Each of those little flying things is a seedling, and they serve any number of functions from soldiers to colonization. When you send a collection of these little guys at an enemy, they will start zapping them with a little laser. No fucking clue how that works, I will get back to you on that. When you hit that button down there, they kamikaze into the asteroid and a tree starts to grow. Logical in a sort of odd way. As far as I have progressed, there are two trees: a dyson tree, which generates more seedlings, and defensive trees, which lob explosive pods. Planting a dyson tree will generate seedlings with traits mimicking those of the asteroid. Some important things to keep in mind on this point: speed seedlings are fast as fuck and are great for rapid reinforcements, strength seedlings are great for taking out enemies and defensive trees, energetic seedlings are great for taking over enemy asteroids.
Eventually, you will start dealing with enemies, and a fucking lot of them. They swoop in low and start zapping fucking everything, and you have to counter. Now, the way you direct your seedlings is by clicking and dragging. This will launch all the seedlings circling an asteroid at the target in an awesome attack formation that makes me want to turn on Flight of the Valkyries every time I do it. If you want to send only your fastest seedlings (in case you have to contact the Dread Pirate Roberts), you double-click and select the fastest seedlings. This will turn your cursor blue, for speed, and then you drag from origin to target. This can be done with any of the types.
Reading the placement of the asteroids is important, too, because where you can go depends on which asteroids you control. Each asteroid has a range that you can fly from it to reach other asteroids. Once you get there, you’ll have to lay waste to the enemies like a swarm of genocidal gnats. The best part comes when you take the asteroid. To achieve this, the seedlings zap a tree until it explodes. They then fly down into the remaining roots to attack the core, where they fucking explode. If you have a fear of bugs flying into your ears and laying eggs in your head, this is not an okay game for you. I fucking love it, though.
The older your trees, the more seedlings or explosive pods they will generate, so size matters. Watching an old asteroid take hits is a bit gut-wrenching, but the respawn rate for seedlings is pretty good; I still recommend filling up the max tree level as best you can, though. Once you strike an enemy, they will ALWAYS try the fucking dick move and strike at the asteroid you vacated to attack theirs. That’s ok though, you can always pull a few from another location to clean those guys up.
As you can see, the art takes a minimalist style, utilizing color to make the world feel warm and alive. Every time you start a level you will have a different color and each level has its own challenges to overcome. The way the colors seem to vibrate with life takes on a role of its own in the game though, and it really starts to feel more like a full region than just empty space. As you conquer and cultivate each asteroid, you can zoom further and further out to see all of what you’ve created, and the later levels get pretty expansive. The music combines with this warm sensation to create an ambient space of wonder and interest. This is like playing an RTS painting and each factor is shaped specially for the task. Despite feeling like you are a swarm of dust mites conquering the equivalent space of someone’s nostril, the game itself really has a life and style of its own. I would like to see some major fucking publisher with the balls to release this one. It’s available on Steam right now for 14.99$ and I recommend it highly. It is a magnificent game that really draws you in and challenges you, but in a soothing and enjoyable way that isn’t like every fucking RTS Blizzard made since Warcraft 3. It’s wonderful. Fucking play it.