Conquest: Divide and Conquer Review
6.4our score

Conquest is a turn-based strategy game with fast, simultaneous gameplay focused on troop movement developed by Proxy Studios, a small independent games developer. So have Proxy Studios done something special with their debut title? Let’s see!

Gameplay

Conquest is based on an incredibly simple concept which could just as easily have been a board game: players fight over a map divided by hexagons, where ‘city’ tiles are spaced roughly 2-3 hexes apart. Maps are randomly generated and include arctic, desert, and tropical worlds – each with a very distinct feeling. The player interacts with the map by giving his troops movement orders, and by deploying operations.

Conquest ReviewOperations come in three forms:

  • Pods, which spawn 4 troops and 2 tanks on the hex you drop them in.
  • Missiles, which obliterate everything in the hex you launch them at.
  • Satellites, which reveal the contents of the hex you drag them into.

Units come in three forms as well:

  • Troops
  • Tanks
  • Bombers

The units have a very futuristic look and feel and follow the basic rock, paper & scissors concept. Bombers are great against tanks, tanks are great against troops and troops in turn are great against bombers. On top of this, troops gain a bonus on hills with tanks receiving a penalty and these elements add some depth to the tactical decisions the player has to make. Units cannot be constructed directly, but each city the player controls (by having at least 1 unit present in the city) automatically adds to the player’s construction pool. Units are built and distributed automatically, which streamlines the gameplay significantly but can hugely frustrate strategy fanatics, such as myself. I felt extremely out of control of the tactical side of the game as a result.

Conquest ReviewPlayers all give their orders simultaneously, with the results being handled afterwards all in 1 go. This makes it something of a challenge to keep up with the entire battlefield, which even on a 1920*1080 resolution doesn’t really fit properly into view. I found it a little frustrating that you couldn’t zoom out further – the amount of hexes in view was really too limiting for my liking. The ‘events’ window lets you see everything that happened that turn which involved your troops, but I would rather have seen each battle resolve one by one, with your screen warping to each in succession. It wouldn’t take that much longer than going through the events window does currently, but it’s a matter of taste. Again, it made me feel too ‘distanced’ from the game. The game resolves the commands of each turn either after each player has pressed ‘end turn’ OR after a time limit, which on standard settings is around 4 minutes I believe.

The goal is to control 75% of the cities on the map, after which you are declared victor immediately. If nobody reaches 75%, the game ends after 20 turns, which takes roughly 30 minutes per game. There’s certainly some merit in this game for people who feel like playing a quick multiplayer game with a decent pace, but really don’t expect a ton of tactical depth here. There is only 1 winning strategy, and once you find out what this is, you wont really lose a game to the AI anymore. This game should really be played against other players and the AI should only really be considered as a tool to do some practice rather than an actual game mode. Multiplayer is really what this game is for.

UI & Controls

Conquest ReviewThe game has the thinnest tutorial you will ever see, but there isn’t all that much to explain either. It would have been nice if the tutorial explained the core mechanics a little bit more clearly though; personally I don’t want to learn a game by reading a ‘tips’ window on the side – just tell me what is going on before I start and I’ll get right on it. I missed the abilitity to replay what happens in a hex simply by clicking on the hex itself for example – I had to discover that through sheer luck. I was actually getting irritated that this kept happening without me trying to get a replay, until I figured out why it was happening. All other controls happen through drag & drop and the UI has a clear, simple layout.

Graphics & Sound

The graphics in the game are very decent. The three unit types are very easy to recognise and have a nice futuristic look and feel. The various colours used are distinctive as well, I’ve never been in any doubt about who is who. The map looks lovely as well – I really have nothing bad to say about the any of it. It’s not brilliant, but it more than does the intended job.

The sound effects are surprisingly good and I loved the music. Honestly, the person who has been involved on this side of the development of Conquest should be applauded.

Conclusion

I really have mixed feelings about Conquest. There’s a fairly interesting idea here, and it certainly works when you take it for what it is: A fast-paced multiplayer game, intended for 30 minute sessions. However, for my personal taste the game lacked the tactical depth I need to truly enjoy myself and I felt too much out of control to really play Conquest for a great length of time. This game must be played in a competitive environment, which Proxy Studios is certainly trying to provide: Tournaments, permanent ranks and achievements are all available. Yet, I don’t think that Conquest is going to be Proxy Studios ‘big break’, but more the basis for a sequel with a lot more substance. The artwork and sound certainly scream to be used again, and their team definitely has some talent.

Conquest Review Conquest Review

So our advice really comes in two parts, depending on what you’re looking for in a game;

If you’re looking for a fast, fun multiplayer game which offers the ability to surprise enemies anywhere on the map – but doesn’t allow for strategic build up of forces, resources or unit building, Conquest might be something that could appeal to you. No turtling or creating a huge horde of units here – the missiles make short work of those and the pods allow the battlefield situation to change very quickly. If you need more depth in your turn-based strategy games, with more control over individual units/battles, decisions on what and where to build, and be a lot more involved in the micro-management side of things, Conquest probably isn’t going to be your type of game.

The real problem though, is with the price of the game. As regular readers will know we really enjoy and support the Indie scene here, but $15 for Conquest is just far too steep for what it is. The current discount price of $7.50 is lot more fair, but I’d still struggle to put down this sort of money for a game where you’ve seen all gameplay the game has to offer in the first few minutes of playing it. I am not sure how Proxy Studios can enhance the value of Conquest, but it would certainly be beneficial to have some sort of campaign – which could double as a training tool for new players.

So before buying Conquest, I would strongly recommend you watch the embedded video, and download the free demo from the official website. Conquest is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and both paying and demo customers are able to play with and against each other with certain restrictions.

the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.