by Alex Hempel
Every now and then, you have to tackle a game that you either just can’t warm up to, or don’t know what to make of. Confrontation became such a case for me. While the genre and setting are entirely in my wheelhouse, the implementation just leaves a lot to be desired.
Cyanide Studios, having previously worked on Blood Bowl and the less than stellar Game Of Thrones: Genesis, again release a game based on a licensed property. This one modelled after a table-top war game created by French company Rackham. Confrontation, a fellow games writer explained to me, is basically the French version of Warhammer. Which explains why, from the first mission onwards, Warhammer was on my mind. From the setting – a fantasy world with a touch of technomancy – to the characters, their weapons and skills – the trappings felt very familiar.
Confrontation gives you command over a squad of four characters, and direct control over their skills and combat attitude. In a lengthy campaign, it pits you against three enemy factions. Move through the maps, go from encounter to encounter, fight the occasional boss – that’s pretty much the bread and butter of this game. And it gets old very quickly.
This is mainly because the AI, though occasionally tough, is very predictable. For example, a Dasyatis will always attack the same way: by pouncing. On the one hand, this makes it easier to strategize – on the other hand, it turns into routine and busywork. The gameplay relies fairly heavily on micromanagement, and wants you to use the pause mechanic to issue commands and use skills. It’s too bad you can’t queue up orders in pause mode. In a typical trial and error approach, the game often requires you to fail an encounter in order to learn the methods and weaknesses of the opponents.
Another annoyance I found was the map design. One thing all the levels have in common is that they’re labyrinthine to a certain degree. It’s especially bad with the underground laboratories, which are veritable mazes and more often than not require a decent amount of backtracking. You can clearly tell that these levels were built to play for time. Fun doesn’t really factor into that equation.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any interesting elements to be found. The character skills and skill trees, as well as the weapon and armour tech trees, have a certain charm about them. It’s a pity that the game suffers from the same interface deficiency as the recent ‘Game of Thrones: Genesis’. Dear Cyanide, please employ one or two good UI designers, because this game is really not up to snuff. There is very little explanation of what does what, the interface is convoluted, and the tech trees still keep me guessing as to their purpose and functionality.
I kind of like the music, although it gets somewhat repetitive, and I am not sure if the occasional denoted bow to Ennio Morricone is a joke or really has a place in the universe. On the other hand, the voicework is terribly one-dimensional, each character packs about three phrases and the narrator annoys the crap out of me.
When you’re done with the campaign, you have the option to go Multiplayer. This is a simple ladder mode in which you choose four units for your squad and enter a series of duels with an opponent. Like the rest of the game, it’s absolutely nothing inspired, but it might keep you more entertained than the campaign AI.
Terribly formulaic, repetitive and uninspired; A poor man’s Dawn of War. This game is run-of-the-mill, stock-standard RPG fare, with nothing to stand out or make it unique. Fun? I’m still looking for it. Your mileage may vary.
Mediocre graphics, wooden animations and a convoluted interface really don’t get my juices flowing.
They’re asking $40 for this on Steam. I hope this works out for them, because I don’t think that too many people will be willing to shell out that amount, unless they’re hardcore fans of the universe.
The entire game reeks of an underfunded and understaffed studio. How Cyanide keep getting these fairly high-profile licenses is beyond me. It’s tempting to stomp this mediocrity into the ground; the setting is hard to conceive for people who aren’t familiar with the universe, as the whole technomancy aspect has a rather constructed feel about it. There’s just so much competition out there that I fail to see how this game could be anyone’s first choice for the given price tag.