The survival game genre tends to produce lots of surprise hits. Whether it’s how fun they are to play with friends, the high stakes of their gameplay, or the creativity they unleash, games like Minecraft, Rust, and Valheim are some of the most popular titles of the past several years. It’s clear that Enshrouded, an upcoming Steam early-access survival title from Keen Games, wants to be next in line.
It’s impossible to predict if Enshrouded will be the game that follows BattleBit Remastered and Dave the Diver in its virality on Steam, but that might be in the cards. An early hands-on look did indicate that the game is adopting elements of all the genre’s greatest hits, which could make it appealing enough to become a massive success. It’s essentially a melting pot of ideas from the industry’s best games with survival elements, but one that’s still able to maintain a distinct identity in the process.
My hands-off demo of Enshrouded was bookended developer showing off a homestead they had built with the game’s creation tools. The more realistic look of the game is reminiscent of Valheim or Rust, but its building plays out more like Minecraft. It’s voxel-based, which essentially means every voxel can be added or removed from a building like Minecraft. It doesn’t rely on realistic physics systems, so players don’t have to worry about their builds toppling over while building.
That voxel-based object modification has implications elsewhere in the game, too, as most of the environment is completely terraformable. Need to get through a wall? You can break through it with a strong enough pickaxe. Need to climb a cliff? Carve out some stairs and walk up. Enshrouded’s building and terraforming are taking all the right cues from Minecraft but don’t look like a direct copy with its more realistic aesthetic. While those gameplay elements hue more toward Minecraft, the adventuring and survival aspects of the game look a bit more like Valheim.
Players won’t have to deal with a constantly draining health meter; like Valheim, food’s primary purpose is to give timed buffs to enhance the player’s stats and abilities. To gain resources, players will have to venture out into the world, sometimes guided by quests. Combat against regular enemies and bosses is frequent. Enshrouded prioritizes dodging and parrying enemy attacks over all-out offense and often rewards successful encounters with a new, more powerful weapon or piece of armor. Players will have to watch how long they spend in these enemy-filled areas, though, as they are sometimes filled with a thick fog that will kill players if they stay in it for too long.
Overall, Valheim players will likely appreciate the more hardcore sense of exploration and combat elements of Enshrouded, while Minecraft players will like the building and terraforming. The inspirations from other games don’t stop there. Players can find specialists and build rooms for them back at their base, like Terraria. There’s even a glider, dungeon-crawling, and a climbing-and-running stamina meter like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.
What I’ve yet to see is how multiplayer works, which seems like it will have hues of Valheim or Rust. Players choose to play together or independently and have to deal with the impact others leave on parts of Enshrouded’s world. It even features expanded versions of the skill system and multiplayer features from Portal Knights, the previous title developed by Keen Games.
In a lot of ways, this makes Enshrouded sound a bit derivative. It kind of is, so don’t come to this game if you’re looking for a wholly original idea. Still, by serving as a melting pot of the survival crafting genre’s best mechanics, Keen Games seems like it was able to blend everything together to create a game that feels distinct as an amalgamation of ideas. Because it looks to be pulling the best elements from the genre’s greatest games, it might actually pull off being the next survival crafting game hit.
Enshrouded will launch in early access later in 2023, in which Keen Games plans to keep it for about a year.
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