Convoy for the Nintendo Switch Review – FTL On Wheels
Rogue-likes are a dime a dozen these days. You take a peek at the Steam store and you’ll find plenty of them to scratch that itch. But it’s beginning to become stale, an oversaturated market with nowhere to turn to if you’re looking for something unique. So when you get to some interesting ideas for a rogue-like, such as FTL, you wonder where else you can take this idea. And so comes in Convoy.
Convoy is a tactical rogue-like developed by Convoy Games and published by Indietopia Games. Convoy sets out to create an experience similar to FTL, but with a nice Mad Max twist.
Convoy’s premise is as such: your spaceship, after flying through an asteroid field, took so much damage that it was forced into an emergency landing on the planet of Omek Prime. Your captain has given you the objective of finding parts to bring back so they can repair their primary systems and get themselves back beyond the stratosphere.
The problem is that the planet of Omek Prime is controlled by three factions: the scavenging Privateers, the murderous Raiders, and the scientifically-advanced T.O.R.V.A.K. Each of these factions take up a sizable portion of the map and even play differently, with each of them equipped in their own special ways.
Since Convoy is a rogue-like, things have to change between runs. The parts you look for, the terrain, the choices you make and the consequences of said actions all change per playthrough, giving you a unique experience every time you press start.
At the start of each playthrough, you get to choose the MCV, or the Main Convoy Vehicle, and the units that protect your MCV. You are given the parts you must look for, then you are thrown out into the world. The way you move around the world is bringing up the map and directing it around, which uses fuel that you can purchase at camps.
Camps are what will keep you going, both literally and figuratively. Through the use of bolts they give you fuel, increase your stats, and allow you the ability to not only buy more items for your units, like weapons or utilities, but even buy more units themselves. Camps only serve to help improve yourself so you can be better prepared in the next battle.
The battle system in Convoy is a lot more involved and fast-paced than FTL. In battle, you, your units, and your enemies are driving at high speeds, shooting at each other with a multitude of weapons. The MCV cannot change course; it moves only in one direction the entire time, but your units can move all around you in their attempts to take out the opposition. Enemies are taken out by dropping their health to zero, but this may be impeded with armor, which can make things difficult if you don’t have the proper weapons.
But that’s not the only danger, as, since you’re continuously moving, you’re bound to come across obstacles, which you are warned about before they appear. If a unit runs into an obstacle, that’s it for them, however, you can also maneuver or bash other cars in the way of these obstacles to take them out at the expense of their own health. So every battle is a balancing act and provides plenty of intense experiences.
Braving The Wastes
Outside of battles, the majority of your playtime will be spent exploring the world and encountering scenarios. Scenarios are your basic affairs: checks, choices, and consequences. Through these you can either gain resources, lose them, get attacked… or nothing will happen at all. The encounters in the game were nothing special, just your basic run of events from these types of games. The choices can be pretty fun, depending on your tastes, but the writing is a few steps above basic.
But that isn’t what matters, as your ship is still in shambles, needing the very parts that will get everything up and running. Each part of the ship will require you to jump through several hoops in order to retrieve them. Some will be in the possession of enemies, while others will require you to investigate rumors, meeting wacky, but otherwise generic, characters that will help you with your task.
And that’s about it for your basic run; it doesn’t get more complex than that. You either succeed or fail, and then you’re brought to the next part: starting over. Each run will change, sure, but you can also customize your experience through challenges to make things easier.
Throughout each run, you might complete a challenge, like completing twenty scenarios, or beating a specific mini-boss. These challenges will unlock units and MCVs you can use in your next run, potentially increasing your odds of survival so you can eventually make it back to the stars above. These help provide goals that give Convoy a decent gameplay loop.
Although, there’s something that makes Convoy feel less fun than FTL. It’s hard to explain, but I found the moment-to-moment gameplay of FTL more engaging than driving through the deserts of a Mad Max-inspired wasteland searching for the next. In FTL, you have a straightforward goal, while in Convoy, the main goal is to explore, and you can only do so through the bare bones map. The major appeal of exploring is seeing cool sights, and you don’t get any of that here.
However, that doesn’t make this a bad game at all. Convoy is still fun in its own way, just not an improvement over FTL, more like an alternative. And with it coming to Switch, I would at least recommend it as a good on-the-go game, sure enough not to bore you on a long trip.
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Reviewed by Freelance7 on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Triangle Studios.