Game Reviews PC

Enshrouded Early Access Review – Clearing The Survival RPG Genre

Enshrouded is an action survival RPG from Keen Games, which is trying to make a notch in the gaming world with all the other survival MMO genres. They decided to take cues from games such as Minecraft, Valheim, and others to make their world a mesh of some of the best ideas combined. With this combination, I believe Enshrouded feels currently distinct and, in my own opinion, better than most of its predecessors.

In Enshrouded, you’re what’s called a Flameborn, a survivor who finds themselves exploring the ruined continent of Embervale. The continent is shattered, with vast ruins of lost people dotting the landscape and skyline, while the depths grow something more sinister: the viscous Shroud.

Waking up in a new world as a Flameborn

As stated by the old man in Zelda, it’s dangerous to go alone, so Enshrouded allows up to sixteen players to partake in the journey on a server. This allows for your party to take on the dangers of Embervale and The Shroud together, whether on a privately hosted server or through a rented dedicated server. Luckily if you are a person who likes time to yourself, you can indeed tackle it alone. Though in my experience, it’s much more enjoyable with a few friends.

Just like some other Survival RPGs, Enshrouded follows the typical route of awakening in a new world, that needs to be recreated by its surviving people. You’ll be directed to the perfect plot to start your base. Then from here, you can start building tools and a small shelter, all while trying to keep enemies and wildlife at bay.

A Campfire will help keep you warm, and you can cook with it.

The early moments are spent hunting down wooden twigs, and plant fiber to build humble pickaxes and stone hatchets to chop trees and mine stone and shale. As a tip, I would tell you to create a bow, wooden arrows, and a torch as quickly as you can. This will help with attacking enemies before they see you, and also when the night comes while you are gathering. Early quests also saw me search high and low for materials to build some exciting traversal items including a grappling hook and a glider.

The Legend of Zelda is a massive influence on Keen Games for Enshrouded, especially with the stamina and combat system. It has the now iconic stamina wheel we’ve seen in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, while Enshrouded’s combat reminds me a bit of the franchise as well, though more so if you decide to lean into a melee fighting build.

The world exudes its fantasy charm well, and I love the premise of a world that you’ve got to slowly uncover while also dealing with the after-effects of whatever caused its collapse. This might be one of the more unique aspects of Enshrouded that sets it apart from other survival MMOs. While others have dangers, from the abundance of enemies at night in Minecraft to the various invasions in Valheim, Enshrouded’s is its somewhat eponymous Shroud.
This mist hangs over much of the landscape, bringing a dark sense of foreboding every time I step foot within its realm. This isn’t something that can be avoided either. Many spots, especially early on, are only accessible by venturing into the Shroud. It’s a rite of passage for every Flameborn on the server, and it’s one that you’ll make time and time again, especially as higher-end resources are sometimes only available within its mists.

The Grappling Hook, lets you cross gaps you shouldn’t be able to.

When partaking in the Shroud, there are two things that you must be wary of, the monsters that dwell there and the time limit allowed to adventure there. At default, this is set to five minutes, making each trek not just a race against enemies and the objective, but also time itself. This added such a feeling of dread and foreboding each time that I ventured into the murk. Luckily there are spots in the Shroud that can reset the timer if you can find them, so you can spend longer in the shroud and find more minerals and treasures. You can also cleanse parts of the Shroud by chopping down Shroud Roots as you come across them. These usually are at the bottom of an Elixir Well and guarded by some sort of boss, making the encounter one you should prepare for ahead of time.

I first played Enshrouded solo, then I played with a group of 3 more to see the difference. I have to admit grouping made the experience more of a pleasure and more of an RPG run. Each one of us opted to fit a role within the group: we had a tank, a mage, a healer and I played a ranger with my bow and arrow.

Unlocking the various forms of crafting isn’t as simple as building a crafting station and going from there. Like the player, you’ll need to rescue five survivors throughout the world, solving Zelda-inspired dungeons along the way to do so for some of them. These survivors, such as the Blacksmith, give access to advanced crafting stations like the Smelter, Forge, and so on, while others like the Hunter give access to better arrows and armor.

With my bow and arrow, I can pick off enemies before they notice me.

Enshrouded also doesn’t let you just make an item. It goes a step further making you create the mats needed to create the mats to make the item. You’ll still be hunting for metal scrap to refine into metal plates, grabbing flax to spin into linen, or using salt and fur pelts to dry some fur to craft some armor. And then you can use the blacksmith to do weapon upgrades when you source out the materials needed.

The skill tree, which isn’t as vast as say, Path of Exile (though to be fair, nothing is as vast as that), still provides some great variety to build out and even provides some ideas based on build types like Battlemage, Tank or Healer, for example. Right now there isn’t a way to respec your skills, but just because you slot more towards magic doesn’t mean you’re excluded from picking up a mace and swinging it with wild abandon.

One of the first monsters of the Shroud, but not the last.

I believe I have barely scratched the surface of how deep Enshrouded can go game-wise. I hardly did any of the building or furniture creation myself. I am sure there are tons of bosses to remove, Shroud Roots to chop down, and quests to complete. Our four-man group is also going to check out the dedicated servers for stability and deep dive into the world and see what is coming from Keen Games.

Enshrouded is a fantastic Survival RPG that draws from other games and tries to use the best ideas of those and make it their own. I have had no issues with this game and it checks a lot of boxes for me in the survival game genre, which I am very pleased to state. Enshrouded is in early access on Steam for $29.99. I believe anyone who enjoys Survival RPGs then this game will be for them. I get lost for hours at a time playing it and it is refreshing to play a Zelda-like survival game.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This review was written based on a PC review code for Enshrouded provided by Keen Games.

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