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Enshrouded Early Access Review – Very Promising

Enshrouded is a co-op survival action RPG developed by Keen Games and launched on Steam early access on January 24, 2024. The game throws you into a vibrant fantasy world shrouded in mystery and it’s one of the smoothest and feature-rich early access games I have played. As a survivor, you must build a base, scavenge resources, and unravel the secrets of the titular Shroud, a deadly mist that consumes the land. The game blends survival, crafting, RPG elements, and exploration, offering a unique blend of gameplay experiences and the best part is you can play co-op with mates.

The realm of Embervale is lost. In their greed for magical power, your ancestors unleashed a pestilence that consumed the world. You start with nothing but the will to survive the wilds. You must scrape and scavenge through the ruined remnants of a lost kingdom and fend off the beasts that hunger for your flesh. Journey through forests, caves, dungeons, searching for secret knowledge and treasure. Build the strength to venture into the Shroud and bring the fight back to the horrors of the deep.

Players can build their characters any way they choose with the intuitive skill customisation system. On a lighter scale compared to skill trees like in Path of Exile, the Enshrouded has 12 classes on the outer perimeter of the tree that you can aim for. There’s three core categories with warrior classes (Warrior, Tank, Barbarian and Athlete), stealth/dex classes (Survivor, Beastmaster, Ranger and Assassin), and magic classes (Trickster, Wizard, Healer and Battlemage). What’s great is you can take pieces of some classes to build a specialisation to your playstyle.

The building system in Enshrouded shines with its intuitive and flexible designs, allowing you to construct sprawling castles, cozy cottages, or anything in between. Snapping mechanics and a wide variety of materials make the process easy and enjoyable, and the ability to destroy almost anything in the world fuels your creative freedom. In other survival games like Return to Moria, you can place pieces of structures like whole doors, walls and roof pieces, but their physical structure and size are often fixed. You have the same set pieces here, but then you can carve out pieces and sections to make your own windows, doorways or design any shapes you like. Your creativity can really shine here, especially when working together cooperatively. Some crafting recipes required a heap of materials and if you’re playing solo, it can be quite the task gathering it all while balancing pack space and trying to stay alive.

Explorating the impeccably detailed lands is another highlight, especially once you unlock the grappling hook and glider, and further upgrade them. The world is vast and diverse, with varied biomes, hidden secrets, and challenging dungeons. The Shroud adds a unique twist, forcing you to manage a timer while venturing into its corrupted depths. There’s always something to find, whether it be an underground cave or a back room that was walled off, the sense of discovery and mystery remains captivating. Reading books and journals will often reveal new points of interest on the map and you start to plot your next areas to investigate. My brother-in-law Juzza has been playing for 60 hours and he still hasn’t seen every location in the game yet, so the content available is huge.

Combat is challenging and feels fluid and dynamic, with a mix of melee and ranged options depending on the weapon you are wielding at the time. As you come across new enemy types, you think you can handles what’s to come and quickly find yourself resurrecting and running back to pick up your dropped items. On death, you drop random items in a bag and a waypoint is added to the map so you can retrieve them. Sometimes your loot bag is moved to a spot that’s somewhat easier to collect, rather than leaving it at the feet of the boss that just made mince-meat out of you. It’s a small thing but has a big impact, being able to re-collect your hard-earned loot.

The crafting system is deep and rewarding, allowing you to create powerful weapons, armor, and tools. However, resource gathering can feel grindy, especially in the early stages. Balancing exploration, resource gathering, and base building requires thought and planning, adding a strategic layer to the gameplay. Again, playing co-op is encouraged here as you can pool resources together much quicker, or send someone off to find the rarer stuff you need that will benefit the group, upgrading your flame or findind a new crafting npc to bring back to your base. Just remember that playing co-op scales the difficulty of monsters, but also means you could get bigger and better loot.

Despite its early access status, Enshrouded offers a compelling and immersive experience and just enough story to keep pushing you forward. With the amount of polish and content in the game already, it almost feels like a full release. The core gameplay loop of building, exploring, and crafting is solid, and the unique shroud mechanic adds a layer of tension and excitement to exploration. If you enjoy survival, crafting, exploration, and building, this is definitely worth checking out and I highly recommend getting your mates involve for some co-op shenanigans. I can’t wait to see what else gets added over the early access period and this will be a game I return to often.

This early access review utilised keys provided by Evolve PR and Enshrouded is available to play on Steam.


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