By Adam Smith on September 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 pm.
Expeditions: Conquistador has an exemplary Kickstarter page: frequent updates, plenty of detail about the actual game as well as the people behind it and a decently explained pitch. Added to that, healthy development progress has already been made. The only thing that’s missing is a playable portion of the game to share with the community and, wouldn’t you know it, the fellows at Logic Artists sent me just such at thing. So, a little late with only nine days left to raise a further $15,000, I can comfortably say that Conquistador is an exciting project. It’d be easy to describe it as HOMM or King’s Bounty set during the conquest of The New World, but that sells the game a little short. I’ll try to explain why.
Although it’s a fairly attractive turn-based tactical game already, the polish is all in the writing. I was genuinely surprised by how much I became invested in the characters and plotlines and it’s not just because the setting is impressively captured and less well-trodden than elven forests and dwarven mines. There’s a willingness to engage with the conflicts of the time and place, particularly the struggle between the strictures of faith and culture, and the freedom of being far from the watching eye of court and crown. This plays out in branching dialogues and missions that allow the player to define their own character as well as that of their followers.
An open-minded doctor might not be particularly happy if you gleefully massacre every native you meet, while a hunter with a belief in the superiority of his race and creed might be annoyed by your lead if you decide that all those who are different aren’t necessarily fit to be slaughtered. That said, the dialogue isn’t heavy-handed and moral choices don’t flash onto the screen. There’s no bar fluctuating between Cortes and ConquistaDora The Explorer. There are loads of well-written characters though and decisions made in conversation and elsewhere that have an impact on the flow of the campaign.
As for the actual combat and exploration, it’s as might be expected. It’s all turn-based, and flanking makes positioning almost as important as preparation. I haven’t played a great deal yet but the simplicity of the early fights is already fading, with new unit types and map layouts forcing tactical rethinks. There isn’t a great deal of variety in troops – essentially they excel in either ranged, melee or healing – but the need to balance movement and attacks provides plenty to think about.
Clearly, that I’ve played and enjoyed the game doesn’t mean I’m recommending everyone throw money at the developers so that I can have more of the same, but when an interesting project (and turn-based tactical historical hexing is interesting) shows the walk behind the talk, it’s a noteworthy occurrence.
All the reward tiers and whatnot are at the Kickstarter page, along with videos and plenty of wordy updates.