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I'm A Terraforming, Free-Running Iron Man: Hands-On With Eden Star

Matt Gardner
Eden Star, Flix Interactive, Free running, Games previews, Indie Games, Kickstarter, PC games, Physics


I'm A Terraforming, Free-Running Iron Man: Hands-On With Eden Star

Platforms: PC

Developers: Flix Interactive

Minecraft Meets Mirror's Edge Meets Portal Meets Red Faction

The folks at Flix Interactive are making big promises with Eden Star. Touted as an "immersive first-person, survival-creation game; blending unique physics-based combat, destructible environments, freeform construction, resource management and completely dynamic, freerunning navigation", the title is still finding its feet during the early days of a lofty Kickstarter campaign pursuing a pretty large £620,000 budget.

It's a game set against the futuristic backdrop of an Earth running out of resources and seeking new answers for humanity out among the stars. To this end, you step into the boots of a Pioneer -- a member of an advance migration team sent forth to find mineral-rich planets, investigate the potential for terraforming on these planets, and mine them for precious resources that might save mankind's home. One such Pioneer vessel is the Eden Star, which settles into orbit around the planet Pharus 7, once home to a now-lost colony. Your job is to establish a base on the planet's surface, protect your terraforming Eden Kit against aggressors, uncover the mysteries of the colony's disappearance, and retrieve the planet's valuable, rocky loot.

To help you in this task, your Pioneer is armed with a Remote Manipulation Device, which looks awfully like the Powerglove to us. It's so bad.

The RMD is a useful little thing, as I found out in the game's pre-alpha combat demo, which teaches players the basics before heading down onto Pharus 7 and pitting them and their Eden Kits against waves of Matrix-esque flying mechanical squids. As well as basically turning Pioneers into a grounded Iron Man -- there are repulsors in the palm of the Powerglove RMD, and you can hold down the left mouse button for a sustained, laser-like beam -- the RMD also allows players to whip crates and enemies about via an energy lasso, and you can deform certain parts of the landscape with a clench of the fist to get to the treasures below.

So yeah: Iron Man meets an intergalactic Indiana Jones, then. With free-running. And crafting.

As someone who swooned a bit over Titanfall, who enjoyed Mirror's Edge enormously in both 2D and 3D versions, I love a bit of free-running in games. Dynamic mantling is something that's gradually been creeping into the vocabulary of every FPS game's development team of late, and it's fully evidenced here in Eden Star. But wait, there's more. As well as the usual leaping over ledges, jumping up to reachable platforms, and a spot of light wall-running, being able to craft new platforms and slow down time makes traversal something of a delight when you wrap your head around it (I hadn't quite fully embraced the intricacies of the systems in my initial impressions video above). Jump off of a high ceiling, slow down your descent, switch to creation mode at the push of a button, plop down a shiny new ledge, and hey presto! Platforming awesomeness complete!

We don't know how deep all of these systems will run in the final game, though. The pre-alpha build I tested out was rather limited in scope and really only served as a tech demo and curiosity piece. It's a shame that Flix haven't made the pre-alpha demo freely available already, to be honest; I can't help but feel that having something like that would help drive interest in the Kickstarter campagin. There are bugs in there, obviously, and I found the energy whip to be a little sticky when it came to smashing enemies into surfaces multiple times, but it's a really nice proof of concept slice of gameplay. Of course, you only put these things out in the public sphere if you know that people will allow for the fact that the product in question is in very early stages of development. The combat demo has been built in Unreal Engine 3, whereas the game itself is being shopped as an Unreal Engine 4 product, for one thing. But on a conceptual level as well, it's difficult to get a feel for the ambitions laid out in the written brief from a wave-based combat tech demo.

I'm intrigued, however. I want to know what form the main game will take, how the hints at multiplayer will tie into proceedings, and how expansive the crafting options will eventually become. There's no world grid for Cornerstone pieces when it comes to construction, but tools were limited in the combat demo, so the only things we could really build took the form of barricades and defensive structures. The energy you gain from resources can be used to power the Eden Kit, which can then dispense building materials, or kept to power your sustained beam, creating a need to balance offensive capabilities as well as the levels in your Eden Kit. Fleeing from some foes at one point, I took to the higher levels in the hopes of then leaping off, creating a landing platform, and shielding myself off with some hastily-assembled blockades. But I hadn't been keeping an eye on my gauges, and so I just fell off the roof and went splat.

Lofty ambitions, then, from the folks at Flix. Eden Star has an uncertain future, but it's done enough to pique my curiosity. In many ways, it reminds me of Singularity: a game that combined lots of my favourite gameplay mechanisms and weapons and chucked them into one Best Of title. Eden Star has a number of things that I crave from plenty of games: systemic, user-driven gameplay; upgradeable, free-form creation systems; physics-based combat that allows me to fling robots into rocks; dynamic traversal and the ability to slow down time. The proof is there in the combat demo: the systems all work (even if some of them need fine tuning). All we need now is a structure, a setting, and a purpose to make this magnificent mashup of mechanics more than a tantalising possibility.

And money. Flix are going to need some money. You can help them out with that by heading over to their Kickstarter page here.

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