Stargarden is an RPG mixed with a social auto-battler game created by Arrivant. Built on Unreal Engine 5, this game delivers high-quality graphics in both the RPG and auto-battler modes. With a team full of industry veterans who have experience building the first Call of Duty, there are high expectations for the game's quality.
While auto-battlers can be seen as mundane by those who prefer action games, Stargarden introduces a fun twist to this experience by allowing you to engage in and strategize battles with friends. This creates the world's first social auto-battler.
The lore is centered around broken worlds that have been lying dormant, waiting for someone to relight the fire of Eleriah. The players, known as Awakeners, are there to recreate the world and bring life back to this vast universe.
There are currently two main aspects to the gameplay: the RPG aspect and the Social Auto-battler.
In the RPG aspect, a player can choose from three different options: Mystic, Seeker, and Illuminator. Each option provides a different aesthetic without conferring any special abilities. With these characters, you can explore the currently playable Stargarden. During my playtest experience, there were generated tiles floating around the island, allowing for a fun experience of navigating the Project Eluune: StarGarden without falling.
While exploring the Stargarden in the playtest, there is a cave with a holographic image that provides information about the game's lore. There are also engravings on the wall that light up with accompanying audio, offering more insights into the lore of Eleriah.
When it comes to the Social Auto-battler aspect of the game, several things need consideration. Players have an array of creatures that can be used in battles, each determined by the objective they are facing. The creatures range from damage dealers like the Ram Rams to tanks called Jums. When playing inside an objective, players are allocated certain creatures that they must strategically place to ensure success.
In the current playtest, there are multiplayer and solo objectives where players can practice the battling mechanism. The battles also vary in difficulty from easy to unknown, with different opponents and creature compositions for the player. As it is an auto-battler, the strategy revolves around placing the player's creatures strategically against their opponents.
When playing with friends, the player can actively see the placement of their friends' creatures, allowing for collaborative strategizing. This enhances the social experience, as triumphs and defeats are more impactful. Another noteworthy feature in this game is the action mode camera. Using the action mode camera, it zooms in on player units performing attacks, providing a cinematic experience for players.
Project Eluune: StarGarden introduces a fun and inclusive twist on the auto-battler genre. In addition to offering a social auto-battler experience, it incorporates RPG elements that allow players to explore each other's lands. Currently, there is only one Stargarden available for players to experience, featuring over 20 different types of battles. However, in the future, players will be able to visit each other's Stargardens and experience the battles they've designed.
When evaluating the graphics of the game, everything is visually satisfying and aligns with expectations from a high-quality studio using Unreal Engine 5. Each battle begins with a cinematic-style introduction of one of the player's units, adding to the entertainment value of the battle mechanics. There is also a cinematic prologue video that plays before loading into the game, which cannot be skipped and is resource-intensive. This is currently a pain point for the game, as several testers have difficulty loading past this due to its high resource intensity.
The audio in the game is well-designed, with distinct sound effects for various actions, such as movement and proximity to a battle objective. In the auto-battler section of the game, each creature has its own sound effect, although sometimes their attacks do not produce any sounds during battles. Addressing this issue would significantly improve the audio experience in the game.
Regarding gameplay, Project Eluune: StarGarden presently offers a well-rounded experience of what the game has to offer. With the RPG element, there is ample opportunity to create experiences for players beyond the social auto-battler niche that Stargarden has carved out. In the current playtest, testers, like myself, set challenges, such as navigating the island without falling between the tiles. While this adds some replayability, it remains limited. The same challenge exists for the battles currently available; once a player completes them, there is no further challenge, which diminishes replay value. One positive aspect of the different difficulty levels of battles is the inclusion of tutorial instances, allowing new players to learn the game mechanics.
The score reflects the low level of replayability in the game, the high system requirements, and occasional audio issues during battles. However, Project Eluune: StarGarden has laid a solid foundation and has the potential to improve its score with a wider release, especially when considering one of its main marketed components: the AI builder that will allow landowners to generate their own Stargardens.
Stargarden is the industry's first Social Autobattler that also contains a RPG element to the game. Being built on Unreal Engine 5, the level of graphics are likely to immerse players in the world of Eleriah especially once the AI builder becomes available. Due to the social element to the Autobattler, it provides a refreshing experience to this genre. So far, Stargarden has built a sound foundation to build a standout game in the autobattler genre.
Exceptional graphics and captivating visual effects.
Unique social dimension added to the Autobattler genre.
An engaging and captivating lore.
High resource demands, which can strain system performance.
Lack of audio during battles.
Limited replay value.
About Project Eluune: Stargarden