Confrontation Review (PC)
Tabletop war games are law unto themselves. Despite almost every home sporting a gaming device of some description these expensive hobbies remain profitable for the companies producing them. It takes a certain dedication, patience and mental eccentricity to dedicate yourself to these tabletop games. Confrontation’s transition from tabletop game to PC is faithful to its roots in that it requires exactly the same traits from the player.
Confrontation by Cyanide Studio is a tactical squad based game where the player controls teams of human characters in a faction known as The Griffin. They are very much the fantasy equivalent of Warhammer 40k’s Imperials including their focus on Inquisitorial zeal. Their story unfurls as you battle across the world of Aarklash against other less savoury factions. These include The Scorpion: undead mechanical monsters, The Wolfen: nature loving werewolves and The Jackals: orcs to you and me.
The game play, and in particular the combat and design aesthetic, is very similar to Bioware’s Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights series of games. You control squads of four champions, guiding them through quests to complete various objectives and further the story. Combat is handled through a rudimentary command system that can have a series of commands queued up for each champion at any one time. Thankfully you have the choice to carefully plan ahead and queue commands with the battle around you paused. This adds greatly to the tactical aspect of the game imbuing it with a more cerebral lilt than a simple blast, hack and slash.
The fact that the game can be paused allows you much more time to focus on Confrontations strongest feature. Each character you gain can be customized by accessing various talents as your champion levels up. Weapons and armour can also be customized and upgraded by finding specific loot along your travels. Anyone who is a fan of classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and enjoys the min/maxing of games like World of Warcraft will find enjoyment in tailoring soldiers to fit their style of play. Confrontations fun stems from eking out the most from each champion and nursing them through the game to see them become stronger and more reliable.
It is a good thing that there is such a strong aspect to focus on while playing as Confrontations other features are far from complimentary. The most disappointing let down of all was the games story. This could have been the essential glue that held the game together creating a salve for the other annoyances and frustrations you encounter while playing. However the story is almost impenetrable. Dense text and a narrator who sounds like an enthusiastically constipated walrus fail miserably to add much needed depth to the world around you. It wrongly assumes that players are comfortable with Confrontations world and bombards them relentlessly with an endless salvo of indistinguishable names and places. Each step of your journey packs your journal with more and more detailed text. There is however no requirement or reward for crawling through that information and without context it remains dry reading material.
While pausing the game to plan your next attack is a strong aspect of the game the actions that often play out once you un-pause are anything but strong. Your champions will often find it incredibly difficult to navigate basic terrain. What seems like a simple command to move forward can often have your character moving of in random directions as it attempts to find a path to the desired location. What’s worse is that your own characters seemingly interrupt one another’s paths creating confusion in the ranks as they move.
The visuals cannot hope to salvage the game either with graphics that sit somewhere between Bioware’s aforementioned Neverwinter Nights and the first Dragon Age. Animations and visual effects seem muted and lack impact. There is never that moment where you want to “do that move again” as visually its rather pedestrian and forgettable.
It is a shame as the game basic premise and character building system are enjoyable. If more time had been spent on the experience of progressing through this world I would have been more forgiving of the issues that I had. As it stands though enjoyment can be found while playing Confrontation though it requires a certain patience, dedication and eccentricity from its players.
5 badly painted miniatures out of 10