A survival game with many RPG influences, Enshrouded lets you play your way, whether it’s exploring the land, building an exquisite base, or completing quests. With a seemingly endless amount of content, Enshrouded is a strong entry to the genre.
As a member of the survival games cadre, some of the usual mechanics can be found here. Food needs to be gathered, though you don’t get hungry or thirsty. It replenishes your health, stamina, spirit, or mana, and it buffs different traits.
There are enemies trying to kill you — constantly. The only nice things I’ve encountered are rabbits, other sleeping survivors, and a Walking Mushroom creature. If you die, your inventory stays where you fell, waiting to be gathered at a later time, reminiscent of a Souls-like.
One of the most unique things about Enshrouded is the Shroud itself. The story revolves around it, you must survive it, and it’s just about everywhere. You’re the last hope against it, Flameborn.
Inside the Shroud, things that worked one way before can work completely differently within. Not only that, but you’re on a timer once you set foot inside its misty embrace. There are ways to push out the clock, but that works the opposite way, as well. Take the wrong step, and you could cut a hole in your safety net.
Enemies born from the Shroud constantly attack you, dropping Shroud-specific items when slaughtered. Bosses often hide in it, making their demise a multi-stepped problem. First, survive to where the boss is, then defeat it with enough time to flee the fog.
The other unique thing about Enshrouded is how crafting works. You can start making some items yourself, whether in your inventory or through a crude workbench. However, to progress your abilities, you must rescue the game’s other survivors. You can’t access metal tools unless the Blacksmith is awake. Healing Potions remain plant parts if the Alchemist slumbers.
This puts forth an extra challenge to survival. You must leave the safety of your base to retrieve these other people and craft better things, make a better home for yourself. Enshourded‘s gameplay loop isn’t solely based on collecting different items or slaying higher-level creatures.
It doesn’t stop there, either. Once all five of Craftspersons are rescued from their different vaults, you must shelter them. Whether you stuff them all into one building or give them their own spaces, they all want a roof over their head before taking on tougher projects. Then they’ll ask you to retrieve their lost advanced tool to make more things.
I really felt the Craftperson progression brings the story of Enshrouded to life by forcing exploration and true survival. I’m Level 13 in my Early Access playthrough, but I still get my butt kicked because I haven’t found the tools for the Blacksmith to make higher-tier armor. This mechanic is easily my favorite in the whole game.
That being the case, most of the other mechanics present bring little innovation to the survival space. It feels like a typical game you find when scrolling through the Steam survival category. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re looking for a completely fresh experience, this may not scratch that itch.
Amazing Together, Stupendous Solo
In terms of things to do, there’s plenty! If you have a full party, there’s enough to go around for all four members throughout multiple hours-long sessions. From building out a base and gathering resources to exploration and questing, it feels like there’s an endless amount of stuff to do in Enshrouded.
While Enshrouded is great when playing with a group, it’s just as great when playing alone. That means there are even more hours to pour into the game. It took me 20 hours just to start venturing into the second region (there are four total).
If you’re looking for a challenge, increasing the difficulty of a world can make it almost Souls-like. I’m typically pretty good at survival games, often playing them alone without issue. But here, I feel multi-player is a step above solo play. Enshrouded makes me feel the same way I do when playing Bloodborne. Enemies everywhere, never enough healing. I run from one bade situation only to end up in another dangerous situation.
I don’t mind dying, but more than 15 death markers from graves I haven’t been able to revisit is starting to get really frustrating. Having friends with me, either as healers or ranged artillery, keeps fights impactful and fun while reducing the slog that comes from repeatedly dying and retracing my steps.
Building a Strong Foundation
I both love and hate the building system in Enshrouded. It’s easily the most original building system I’ve enjoyed struggling with. Each little building block gets placed individually, leaving you completely in control.
I love that I can build any structure how I want, from the foundation to the windows and the roof. I can create the stone foundation Dutch-style building that I adore, or I can build a brick house to withstand any wolf attack. I can hollow out the earth and make a partial underground base. There are so many options that it can be hard to decide what you want your area to look like.
While the system allows for a large range of creativity, actually building is a time-sucking process that can turn into frustration. Constructing a basic square house tall enough to fit a door with a roof would take me an hour to complete, at least.
I have no idea how often I’ve placed something in the wrong spot without realizing it threw off my design. After many attempts at a straight roof, I ended up swearing and just sitting back because I couldn’t line anything up. The learning curve for building seems to be steep, but the pay off certainly can be worth it.
This is another place where I feel multiplayer really shines. One player (who enjoys it) can build the base, while others gather resources or finish objectives.
Misty, Glitchy, Bugs
Enshrouded is in Early Access, and the amount of content available to play through is astronomical. All that comes with a caveat: bugs and glitches. While I didn’t experience many of these, there were a few things that impacted the game to a degree that I must mention.
- FPS drops, causing dizziness and motion sickness. This made it hard to focus on enemies or not roll off a cliff since the camera wouldn’t sync with my character.
- Crashes. I got kicked out of the game twice, both while playing in different areas and doing different activities. Though rare, it did put a wrench in my gaming hyperfocus.
- Key locking. At some points, I would simply stop moving. It happened most often when I was trying to run away from danger. Even though I was pressing the keys to head in a direction, I’d have to release and press again for something to happen. Others on the GS team experienced this, too.
A minor issue, but one that reared its annoying head, is floating buildings, chests, enemies, and other objects. While not game-breaking, it made me think of creative solutions to access a house or finish off a target. (#EmergentGameplay).
Enshrouded Early Access Impressions
- Creative base building.
- Plenty of content.
- Fun single- and multi-player.
- Shroud mechanic changes how things work inside it.
- FPS drops that cause motion sickness and gameplay interruptions.
- Movement keys sticking and not moving the character.
- Typical survival mechanics.
- Difficult to execute building mechanics.
While Enshrouded is a dingy, medieval survival game with endless fog, it has a bright future. From the sheer amount of things to do, to the creativity in building and the fun of surviving in single-player and multiplayer, it’s a game with something for just about everyone. Despite the hiccups I experienced and my reservations about certain elements, this is a strong start for Enshrouded‘s EA period.