Enshrouded may appear to be yet another forgettable survival game, but thanks to some stand-out mechanics manages to set itself apart from others in the space. The addition of RPG elements, a non-procedurally generated map, and crafting mechanics work with the tried and true survival mechanics on offer. These blend together to create a game with a strong foundation that keeps you interested.
Expanding on the basics
Enshrouded borrows the basic mechanics of the survival genre you have come to expect. At least, that’s how it presents itself early on. You have your basic crafting, base building, and exploration, however, each has a slight spin to it that helps make things a bit more interesting.
The crafting is enhanced by your ability to unlock NPCs who help you create new weapons, mobility devices like the grappling hook and glider, and enhancements. At first, I unlocked the blacksmith who granted me access to a plethora of new recipes that allowed me to craft powerful weapons and enhance what I already had. Each of these NPCs opened up a new swath of options and depth to the core experience. Each one has to be unlocked by braving dungeon-style areas — a welcome break from the standard exploration.
Base building is perhaps where this game shines the most in its crafting mechanics. Building your home is centered around upgrading your Flame Altar — a stronger altar means more room to build and more room for activities. With snap-connect walls, foundations, stairs, half walls, beams, and more, you can make just about anything your heart desires. I am not ashamed to have taken nearly five hours to craft a base that I liked with all the materials provided.
On top of all of this, there is a skill point system that allows you to upgrade aspects of your character, giving you increases in strength, dexterity, magic, and more. With this, you can unlock more capabilities such as double jumps and powerful moves. While the upgrade tree is fairly basic, it helps the game stand out from competitors by giving you a nice way to enhance your abilities as you progress beyond just getting better gear.
Exploring the Shroud
The world of Enshrouded is a visual spectacle. Since it isn’t procedurally generated or seed-based, each dungeon and tower is intentionally placed and more satisfying to explore.
My favorite part about the world is how interactive the environment is. Almost every part of the environment can be destroyed in some way. Thanks to this, you can take advantage of towns and ruins to collect more items by destroying walls, battlements, and more. I built my base near some bandit structures to have a steady supply of metal scraps early in the game by periodically going out and destroying their camp each time it would respawn.
As you explore, you can find towers filled with puzzles and dark dungeons that offer more of a physical challenge. Seeing as how I enjoy some good puzzles, I immediately was interested in tracking down the towers. The goal in these is simple: find a way to reach the top. Of course, completing this task was much more difficult than it sounds as I needed to deal with lava, climbing walls, hidden doors, and much more.
Dungeons offer a simple experience that can be just as rewarding. Before entering a dungeon, you typically hit a safe point. From there, you have a small amount of time based on your Flame Altar level to get through the dungeon and destroy the Shroud Root. Failure to do so will result in your dying from the Shroud unless you can make it out in time. This added pressure made exploring these dungeons more exciting. Knowing I had a time limit made me feel the rush of needing to track down the Shroud Root and take it out before I could explore everything else.
Combat that could use more flair
What disappointed me most during my time with Enshrouded was the combat. Throughout the game, you are given a handful of different weapons that all have similar attack patterns with the only noticeable difference being speed. None of the weapons offer different combos and some of them even feel clunky to use. For instance, the stronger axe that I had felt way too slow and impractical to use so I stuck with a fast-swinging sword. Giving these weapons special animations and combos would help set them apart and give each a unique identity and incentive to explore the breadth of options.
Most enemies in the game could be dealt with using the same strategy as each one behaves in the same way, making it simple to run up on them and take them out with little worry. The only exception to this came when I was ganged up on by multiple enemies. When this happened, it was easy to simply run away and pick them off from a distance as they chased me.
No matter what I was engaging with, it felt like everything was way too easy, including bosses. More variety and challenging enemies would go a long way in motivating me to fully explore the systems.
Enshrouded has a strong foundation with a healthy dose of RPG elements that help set it apart from the standard survival game. However, basic combat mechanics and pushover enemies make certain parts of the game that should be exciting feel more like a nuisance. At least you can fall back on the base building and exploration to keep yourself occupied.