You got your tower defense in my open world. No, you got your open world in my tower defense. Two great genres that play great together. At least that is what developer Nvizzio Creations is hoping for with their hybrid adventure game Eden Rising. Your time in Eden Rising starts off with a familiar sci-fi trope: you have unearthed an ancient text with blueprints for a portal. Once built and activated, you are the brave guinea pig that gets to go through. When you arrive on the other side you find yourself on an inhospitable planet. So much so that the toxic air starts to eat away your skin. That’s when the Steward, an AI left behind by an ancient race, offers to transform your body so you can survive. Accepting its aid comes at a price: you must become Warden of the Crucibles scattered across the planet, restoring all of them to access the archives held within. And so begins your adventure. Welcome to our Eden Rising review.
Available on PC via Steam, Eden Rising released on May 17 with two options: the Free to Play Explorer Edition and the paid Ascendant Edition. With the Explorer Edition, you have access to the first 3 areas of the game, with an estimated 12+ hours of gameplay ahead of you. The Ascendant Edition opens up 35+ hours of gameplay, with 7 areas to explore and 67 sieges to complete. You can play solo or jump online for up to 8 player co-op fun. Even better, if the server host has the Ascendant Edition, all players who join their world will have access to all content. Without a cash shop to generate revenue, requiring just one person per server to purchase the paid version is a good compromise between cost and content available.
The concept of Eden Rising is straight forward. You will explore your surrounding area gathering resources from plants, rocks, and even the creatures you must slay. You’ll use those resources to research new tech and craft new gear for your character. You will also build up defenses at your current crucible, then survive a siege on your base, ala a tower defense game. Rinse and repeat. Once you have completed all the sieges at your current base, you will head off for a new crucible and do it all over again.
Although the tower defense portion doesn’t add anything new to that genre, it is a nice diversion to exploration and adds purpose to your actions. Another nice addition is the ability to deploy a couple of your defense towers outside of your base to help dispatch some of the more difficult baddies you come across. This adds a little strategy to handling creatures during exploration and does a good job of tying the two portions of the game together.
Speaking of exploration, this is where the game shines. The devs went for more stylized visuals over a realistic environment and, for me, this helps accentuate just how alien the world is. You will come across monoliths that impart some lore about the prior inhabitants, adding some explanation as to how the world ended up the way it did.
There are a wide variety of creatures to battle during your adventures, and needing their body parts for crafting means you can’t just take a wide berth to avoid them. The creature AI is a little simplistic and their attack patterns are learned in just one or two fights. The beasts run in packs, but some patience, a lot of kiting, and a couple of towers all but ensures victory.
All that exploration and crafting has a purpose. You have personal equipment, consumables such as healing bulbs, and base defense towers to research and build. As you advance to new areas more options become available. This is the typical carrot being dangled in front of the horse, but it never felt forced. This is partly because the research is completed at a brisk pace, but is more a testament to how beautiful the world is. I wanted to keep exploring each area for 100% completion, even if I had already met the prerequisite for advancement to the next zone.
Overall, Eden Rising is a solid offering for a casual player but may be lacking some of the depth and difficulty that a hardcore player of the genre might be looking for. Nvizzio has created a vibrant world to explore, and being able to join up with friends, or just jump into someone else’s world for a little while adds to the longevity of the game, especially for someone who isn’t ready to pony up for the Ascendant Edition right from the start.