In this job, it’s rare that you get stuck on a game even after the testing phase. You often play several titles at the same time, the transition from one to the next is smooth and there is hardware on the table somewhere that you wanted to say a few bars about. There is rarely a lot of time to return to games that you particularly liked. If something manages to “bring me back”, I don’t want – and shouldn’t – leave it unmentioned.
I was reluctant to talk about Enshrouded’s appeal again mainly because I wasn’t prepared for the construction aspect to grab me that much. Even though it was clear in the early access test that I was very impressed, what I’m doing here now goes beyond all limits. Normally I only do what is necessary.
Of course, I also like to build a little crate in this type of game and make sure that everything I need is there. My home always has to have a certain basic coziness. For me, a believable, plausible dwelling is part of the illusion of wresting a piece of life from these hostile worlds. Without it, I’m not really “here.” But I never feel any real ambition to realize myself architecturally in virtual worlds so that it is presentable and also pleases others. I also played Minecraft primarily as a survival adventure. And now this:
I think I have a problem. Building in Enshrouded is so easy and satisfying, it almost makes you want to get lost in it. The sound with which individual blocks pop onto others is a piece of audio art alone, which is a large part of the appeal. It fits well with the simplicity of a construction mechanism that isn’t interested in annoying you with trivialities. A system that only focuses on the result that you currently imagine.
As long as the material is there, you can click together something within minutes that immediately looks quite comfortable, or at least almost automatically suggests what could be improved. A wall here a little to the right? Maybe gain some space with an offset rear wall? Ceiling higher? Basement deeper? A pillar in the middle? No problem! Oh, a new material for the walls!
You swap building materials one-for-one, while of course making small optimizations to the floor plan and suddenly you realize that you have reached floor three and that it would be nice to put the bedroom in the attic. It builds incredibly precisely and quickly, thoughts become convenient reality in minutes. Here I am now, having completed no less than one quest since the test before it occurred to me that my carpenter, blacksmith, alchemist and huntress would be much better housed in a tower connected to my estate by an elevated bridge. For some of you Lego kids this may not be a big deal, but for me it is a revelation of unimagined proportions what a desire for creative expression this game awakens in me.
Last night I was lying on the couch and caught myself trying to click away the disused chimney in the corner of the living room with an imaginary mouse cursor. In the past, only the most intense games have spilled over into real life like this for me.