Expeditions: Conquistador – game review
For few years now turn based games had all gone out of style but thankfully these tactical and deeper strategy games are making a come back into style. Expeditions: Conquistador being one such title. The game is set in 15th~16th century of new world discovery with you playing as a Spanish Conquistador who has just sailed on to American soil to make his mark in history with discovery of new world but his ship, supplies and crew gets taken away at the town he reaches. From there on you start the quest to help out the towns people with certain quests and issues they have to gain back your crew and ship.
The gameplay is distributed into two parts: Exploration and Combat. First lets get in details of exploration: City exploration mode allows free movement where you go to different town structures or people to either discuss problems, quests or diplomatically resolve issues. These discussions consist of long narratives presented by rather daunting walls of text. Without any voice overs to churn out the info to you, the interface felt rather like a 90s game. The dialogue panels come with 2 to 4 replies for you to choose from, each having its own consequences or moral implications.
Each of your crew member is unique with his or her own back-story and own values. Your decisions will have an impact on them also. Some may approve, others may disapprove and even threat to leave your party. Each party members has their own skill too e.g. hunter, scouts, soldier, scholars, priest etc.
When you go out of town then exploration becomes turn based which is slight annoying as you will have to again and again after completion of moves lay down a camp site. The camping activity is once again controlled via dialog panels allowing you to allocate resources to each unit and duties. You should stock up on resources before you leave town, or rely on your hunters to find hunt every night to keep your expedition afloat. Secondly duties will include likes of guard duties, hunting etc. If you don’t assign guards you may end up having a theft of tools or resources in morning. The number of times or days it would take you to go from one meaningful location to other will require you to camp a lot. This can be a bit annoying but thankfully you don’t have to micromanage camping duties every night as there is an “Auto Assign duties/resources” button to do it for you, which is very welcome option.
Additional challenge of the exploration mode plays somewhat like Oregon tale in the sense that your party members can get sick or injured and will require enough resources and days to heal them to full health and rejoin their duties. These do add a layer of unseen features in games like these and give the game a more human or realistic touch of the era of great Spanish exploration.
The second mode of gameplay is the combat mode. The Aztecs which you will mostly encounter have their own classes of military men and you will fight on a hex board like King’s Bounty or Might and Magic. Your each soldier can have a number of movement options indicated by light green hex boxes. You can move within them and still be able to end move with an attack. There are far reaching dark green hexes too which indicate that your soldier can sprint to that location but will have no more action points to carry out an attack. The combat works very nicely as expected from any turn based games asking you to tactfully use your soldiers special abilities (like ranged attack, back stab, heal, buff etc.) while using the layout of map to properly use barricades and movement points. Combat mode was enjoyable and is easily one of the more quickly learn-able aspects of the game.
Graphically the game is a slight disappointment. The textures are a little muddy with lot of noise. The visuals overall give a grumpy or dull feel. It just felt like the game was trying too hard to portray a serious tone. The animations are simplistic. The game visuals in combat and exploration mode are slightly different with combat mode set in limited yet more detailed 3D environments while exploration mode is more zoomed out and yet both use the same depressing textures that can turn away many gamers. I would have more liked if visuals would have been similar to DOTA 2 or Age of Empires Online like brighter and clean visuals.
Audio was once again disappointing. Even though its an important part of every game yet behind its rather deep game engine, audio looked like an after thought. Only the most basic jabs, firing sounds are audible other than that there are no voice overs or detailed sound effects to enhance the experience. There is background music to break the silence but the missing voices make it look pretty dated game.
Overall the gameplay mechanics are pretty deep and quite impressive but the walls of text, no voice overs and dialog after dialog of interface control will disappoint and put fear in hearts of modern gamers. The developers had a well thought out game but the lack of resources or funds never let the game shine out as a AAA effort. Maybe in the sequel they can keep the same game mechanics but get rid of all the 1990s interface and visuals to make the game more appealing but as of now it will appear too daunting despite its great mechanisms in the back.