Enshrouded Review | PC

Rise, Flameborn, to save Embervale from the deadly shroud and itself.

By R3GR3T, Posted 24 Jan 2024

It looks like things are becoming quite heated in the first month of the year with so many great upcoming releases; however, a few severely underrated releases don’t get the same hype as other games. One studio in particular is currently the best example of this scenario; Keen Games has been around since 2005, and they did have a bit of a messy start since they are also the successor to Neon Studio. Keen Games started their epic journey with Anno 1701: Dawn of Discovery in 2007 and carried on with releases in different genres like Dance Dance Revolution – Disney Channel Edition in 2008, TNT Racers in 2010, and even the critically acclaimed Sacred 3 in 2014.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

Now, this is all fine, but Keen Games wasn’t stopping until they hit the big leagues, and they came extremely close with their release of Portal Knights in 2016. It already gathered up a massive fandom, and everybody loved the Chibi-styled Action Survival that takes you through various portals to different lands, but all things have to come to an end, and Keen Games hit a wall with what they could add to the game. This brings us to their latest beast, Enshrouded, which was released into Early Access on 24 January, though this isn’t going to be just another survival RPG to rush through.

To give a little more background on Enshrouded – You take on the role of the Flameborn, the last ember of hope in a dying world and the only thing standing in the way of the ever-consuming Shroud. Though everything wasn’t all gloom and doom, this whole nightmare started when the Elixir and this mysterious liquid gave people what they needed, but uncovering the Elixir also released a much worse threat when the first Elixir Well was built. However, not all hope is lost, and you, as the Flameborn can rise against the Shroud and restore Embervale to its former beauty. Granted… Nobody said it would be easy, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.

Aside from humans, there were also the Ancients; these two races lived in harmony with each other. When the Wanderer came and shared the Elixir with the people, the same Elixir that started Embervale’s downfall, both races came together to create the Flameborn. Sadly, not much else is shown after the initial cutscene, but it’s a big world, and there’s a ton of lore to be found. The lore, in particular, is the biggest driving force for the story, and with how huge the world is, you’ll definitely find the answers as to what happened to the two races.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

Before your possibly never-ending quest begins in Enshrouded, you’ll need to create your shiny and new Flameborn character. Naturally, character creation is always a critical part of games like these, and it’s always a balancing act between too much and too little. It goes without saying, but Enshrouded managed to strike a good balance between the two and there are just enough customization options to keep it interesting and somewhat realistic. Sadly, this does mean you can’t go for crazy hair colours or outrageous body builds. Normally, the lack of extra options in this regard would be seen as a downside, but it’s actually what gives Enshrouded a more real feeling, especially when you consider that you’re literally about to start with nothing.

With your character created and polished, it’s time to dive into the thick of it and find your land legs in a very unforgiving world. Your very first interaction isn’t with another human or Ancient; it’s instead with the Flame in the Cinder Vault. Yes, you’ll be talking to a disembodied voice that comes in the form of a flame… That’s not even the weirdest part of Enshrouded, but it is possibly the most magical. However, this is also where you’ll learn about the most important aspect of your survival; the Rested buff. Similar to Valheim, Enshrouded also uses a Rest Buff that can affect your stamina. The higher your Rested Buff level, the longer the buff and the stamina boost will last.

The Rested buff isn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds, though; it runs on a set of criteria that need to be met for the buff to become active – Sheltered, Warmth, and Comfort Level. The first two are pretty easy; a roof and a fire will tick those two boxes along with the first level of Comfort, but higher levels of Comfort are where life becomes trickier. However, before you can start delving into that, you’ll need to make your way out of the Cinder Vault and gather up some resources to build a Flame Altar and your very first home.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

Once you’ve made your way out into the open world, you’ll need to gather up a few basic resources to start your journey to survive the harsh land of Embervale but first, you’ll need a Flame Altar. It’ll act as a fast-travel point and as your home base where you can build what you need, though your Altar will set a boundary where you can build, and it’ll keep you safe from the dangers of the Shroud. Now, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’ll take a while to get your new home ready; start simple just for the sake of the Rested Buff and work in bursts.

Sooner or later, you’ll finally get a Workbench up and some basic tools; now you’re ready to take on the world and maybe build some basic furniture, which will help raise the Comfort level as well. However, Enshrouded would be dreadfully boring if there wasn’t some action, and this is why you’ll need weapons, too, if you want any hope of exploring beyond the small clearing you start in. Luckily, you’ll have a few options between melee and ranged weapons, even magic weapons. These come in the form of swords, clubs, sickles, bows, wands, and staffs. Sadly, Bows and Staff will require their own respective forms of ammo, and they’re not exactly easy to craft or find, but everything is possible with a little time and patience.

Now, with a weapon in hand, you’re ready to brave the Shroud. It’s not as scary as it sounds at first, but the real danger comes in when you see that timer showing how long you can spend in the Shroud before it claims you. The Flame can only protect you from the Shroud for a set time, but this time can be extended with potions and Flame Altar upgrades. However, as dangerous as the Shroud is, it’s also home to some of the best loot you’ll find and some of the more difficult-to-find resources like Metal Scrap early in the game.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

There is one more danger about the Shroud to keep in mind, and this is likely the biggest one. You can try to avoid going through the Shroud, but it is inevitable, and you’ll be forced at one point or another to run through it to reach your objective. Sadly, that same rush to get through it is also what will kill you a few times. The Shroud on its own is somewhat harmless, but there is the ever-present risk of running into Dense Shroud. Typically, it is very visible and very red; it won’t kill you instantly, though… It’ll drain that timer faster than you can say “Enshrouded” and then it’ll kill you. Leaving you in the oh-so-fun predicament of having to run back and reclaim your lost items that drop close to where you die.

With all that out of the way, you’ll probably start noticing the severe lack of people since everything else is either long dead or wants you dead in Enshrouded. Sadly, this is Embervale for you, and you’d be lucky to find someone that isn’t insane or hostile towards you, but you won’t be entirely alone. The Flame will eventually send you on your way to retrieve the spirit of a blacksmith, whom you can then summon at your home base to unlock new crafting options and quests. Worry not, he’s not the only one you’ll have to find, but it’s a fun start to breathing some life into a very dead land.

Finding spirits to summon at your home base is just a start; they’ll have their own requirements, such as comfort or extra crafting stations to give you access to the more advanced option. Sadly, this is where the real grind in Enshrouded begins, as each new quest will send you further away from home and deeper into the danger zones. Going deeper into those dangerous areas will naturally require you to find or craft better weapons; you’ll likely end up in a catch-22. It goes without saying that Enshrouded isn’t exactly a game you should play alone, and lucky for you, multiplayer is highly encouraged if you want to make progression a little easier.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

The alternative to finding friends if you’re hellbent on going at your adventure solo is to abuse the levelling system and skill tree as much as possible. Naturally, gaining EXP is easy enough by cutting down hostile creatures and completing quests, but you’ll also gain some through mundane actions like mining or chopping down trees. Levelling up comes with the reward of Skill Points that you can spend in your Skill Tree, though this is where Enshrouded really shines as there are several different paths around the tree you can follow for sub-classes like Wizard, Tank, Warrior, etc.

Alongside levelling and exploration, you’ll have one more major perk to work with, glorious food. Similar to Valheim, cooking and or eating certain foods will give you buffs and perks that range from more HP, Mana, Health Regeneration, temporary stat boosts, etc. Finding food out in the wild is one thing, but once you’ve retrieved the Farmer, life becomes a lot easier. The Farmer allows you to grow the various plants you’ll find in Enshrouded in the comfort of your home base without having to venture out, though you might get stuck when it comes to finding water to grow your plants, at least until you can build a well.

To save the best for last, Enshrouded won’t have you running around on foot the whole time. Quite early on, you’ll have to build the Grappling Hook and Glider, both of which are essential to making your way around the vast land around you. The Grappling hook will allow you to swing your way between platforms or pull yourself up, while the Glider is where the real fun comes in. Naturally, fall damage is a very real threat in Enshrouded, but the Glider will save you in this regard, and it becomes a lot more fun when you can casually jump off a mountain and glide your way to where you want to be while getting to enjoy the great scenery.


Enshrouded, Review, Screenshots, Survival, Fantasy, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

On the visual front for Enshrouded, the Embervale might not have much in terms of living people, but nature has definitely flourished and taken over. It might be slightly unnerving to some when having to explore ruins or abandoned homes, but this is where Enshrouded’s beauty really shines because nature still carried on, between the lush forests and valleys and the desolate and eerie parts taken over by the Shroud, there’s always something new to see and never really a dull moment if you’re looking to stop and smell the roses. The various enemies you’ll encounter all have their own strange and unique designs that tie in with everything else, too.

Visuals aside, there is a completely different side to Enshrouded that shines just as brightly. Seeing the world in a state of abandonment with nature taking over again is great, but the sound design did just as much with building a great atmosphere. Between the slight shifts in background music and the different types of ambient sound, it all comes together with a scary level of immersion that will keep you trapped and wanting to explore more of Embervale. Sadly, there isn’t any voice acting aside from the odd vocal rambling when talking to the NPC spirits you’ll rescue. The rest of your interactions are written dialogues. However, with most Early Access games, anything can change, and we might still get voice acting.



 

Overall, Enshrouded is one of the greater Early Access games to release, with how much there is to do and see. The story might not be as linear as you’d expect at first, but everything slowly unfolds and becomes clear as you explore Embervale, and that’s also what drives the plot forward. You’re not just trying to survive; there’s a driving force through the story that gets better as you go, and the same can be said for the crafting side, as well as, this also expands as you progress. Enshrouded might not be as hyped as it could be, but it is definitely a must-play for gamers who like a good survival game.


Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

Enshrouded

95/100

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): Keen Games
Developer(s): Keen Games
Genres: Survival
Themes: Survival, Adventure
Release Date: 2024-01-24

View All

Popular Articles