Mushroots Preview – Fungal Feud (Early Access)

Mushroots Preview – Fungal Feud (Early Access)

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, LInux, Steam

Game Name: Mushroots

Publisher: Ducklings Studio

Developer: Ducklings Studio

Genre: Strategy

Release Date: May 1st, 2024

Mushroots by Ducklings Studio

Mushroots is a real-time strategy game built around a fungal theme, featuring slow-growing territory wars fought between networks of colorful mushrooms trying to outmaneuver their rivals and take their land.

With PvE and PvP modes already available and a campaign on the way, Mushroots offers an unusual mycelial management experience that feels unlike any RTS I’ve played before.

Mold Growth Mindset

The most defining feature of Mushroots is the static nature of its units; mushrooms can be placed but cannot move once deployed. Instead, they are connected by roots and can be used to place additional mushrooms nearby.

Mushrooms can also be upgraded from the standard type into either attack, bomb, or protective variants. Each of these types provides a unique benefit, and some can be further upgraded to change their function again.

Basic mushrooms provide a wide area of sight and serve as a basis for all other types. Attack mushrooms can be used to destroy nearby enemy units or the roots connecting them, planting a new friendly mushroom in the process.

The attack type can be enhanced into a rig mushroom, allowing for roots to be placed at will, strengthening the network between your units. Bomb mushrooms unsurprisingly explode and destroy everything nearby, while protective mushrooms provide resistance against enemy attacks.

Spore Wars

The trick behind Mushroots is securing and acquiring land; some territory provides extra resources for buying new mushrooms, while other areas can deplete it.

The roots connecting mushrooms can be compromised with well-targeted attacks, cutting off entire sections of the network and destroying many mushrooms instantly. It’s easy to become too focused on the frontlines whilst the enemy slips around a flank, ready to cut a key root and annihilate half of your forces.

As I played Mushroots, I came to think of it as an experiment in what the RTS could have been if it had taken a different path.

If the robust lineage of RTS games can be traced back to chess and its careful maneuvering of units into advantageous positions before trading assets, then Mushroots takes its inspiration more from the game of Go: it is focused on securing territory and positioning your units to gain a slow stranglehold on the enemy’s forces.

Fungal Funk

The visual and audio design of Mushroots is basic and mostly sufficient to convey necessary information.

There are a few issues to address here, however; the music is decent but repetitive (lacking the essential charm such a track needs to actually get away with being repetitive), and each match is launched with a somewhat aggravating horn that doesn’t seem to line up with the feel of the setting.

Finally – and most egregiously – the mushrooms, friend and foe alike – are all purple and feature only minor color differences to indicate their team. The developer has said that this will soon be remedied, and in time we can hope that Mushroot’s few rough edges will all be sanded down.

The Verdict

Mushroots is an intriguing idea, well-executed; I’m not sure what kind of mind looks at a mushroom and says “Yes! This is the theme I’ve been waiting to build my strategy game around,” but they’ve found a way to make it work.

Features are still quite bare-bones- so far there are just two maps to play PvE and PvP skirmish modes on – but with campaign and arcade options in the works, I’m sure Mushroots will be worth revisiting in the future.

Mushroots is available via Steam Early Access.

Watch the trailer for Mushroots below:

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