Expedition: Conquistador is a wonderfully historic take on the tactical role-playing genre. Developed by Logic Artists, Conquistador places players in the role of a young explorer, tasked with leading troops across the uncharted and foreign New World. Whether the journey is one of discover, or conquest, the choice is in your hands.
Featuring some of the deepest writing and white knuckled strategic battles in recent memory, Conquistador is an engaging role-playing experience from start to finish.
Expedition: Conquistadors transports players to 1520. Players create their own Conquistador, choosing their background and special traits, as well as the crew that will come with you. Each crew member has their own unique backstory and personality traits. Having a convicted murderer that is a known racist working as your expedition’s doctor goes a long way to add flavor to a playthrough and expertly sets the ragtag nature of the period’s many would-be Conquistadors.
Upon landing on an island just off the coast of Hispaniola, your Conquistador and troops are immediately put to work by the local Governor. Through his dialogue, the game’s initial quests open up. The dialogue and writing of the game are paramount in moving the game’s narrative along, as each character – be it your troops or an important NPC – has a personality that is fully realized and refined. Conquistadors is not a game of simple black and white choices, without careful thought, choosing the wrong dialogue option can be the difference between finding buried treasure or your entire crew buried six feet under.
As you spend more time on the island, helping the Governor quell a rebel uprising, your Conquistador is sure to encounter some of the game’s amazing contextual events. Be they surprise assaults by rouge Spaniards or as simple as one of your crew members making a confessions about their own past, each and every one of these events is capable of being addressed in a number one ways.
The story progresses through both main quests and contextual events. After the events on the game’s starting island, your journey truly begins. Exploring the mainland is as exciting as it is dangerous. With an entirely uncharted land before you, the New World is your oyster. Full of real-world locations and hundreds of points of interest, finding quests and shaping your path across Hispaniola is the crux of the game’s story.
Conquistadors’ gameplay is deep and multifaceted. The game features traditional tactical battles (taking place on varied hex-based stages), fully realized trading systems, and various troop interaction menus.
Combat comes first and foremost in Conquistadors. Upon entering a battle, you are given the option to select with of your crew will fight. Choosing from the different classes – Scout, Hunter, Soldier, Doctor, Scholar – and making sure they are properly equipped for the upcoming fight is the key to success, as each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Scouts can move the furthest on the battlefield but have no ranged attack and Doctors can heal and remove negative status effects in combat but are weak fighters. Mixing and matching your units and picking talents upon leveling them up requires careful consideration, because the consequences of losing a battle are steep.
Battles take a fair amount of time, but are insanely fun to take part in. Setting your troops positioning, as well as various traps and barricades, and leading the crew to victory is rewarding. Most battles will find you outnumbered, making each and every successful fight a true triumph, earning your rewards and advancing quests and plot points. When combat begins, players may move their units across the hex-grid as they see fit, finding the best position to take advantage of their unit’s strengths. As they meet enemy units, positioning is everything. Flanking enemies allows your troops to inflict extra damage, making for some seriously in-depth strategy as fights progress.
Outside of combat, exploring the New World calls for just as much strategy. The game world is based off of actual topographical maps and is filled with mountains and lush forests. Secret locations are scattered throughout, and those familiar with history will certainly be entertained by some of the places they can visit. Aside from exploring famous locales, your crew will also find various resources, such as herbs and rope, which will make setting up camp for the night even easier.
All of the exploration works wonderfully in conjunction with the game’s contextual events. As your progress through the game, these events become ever more varied and interesting. Choosing your actions wisely is paramount, because your crew scrutinizes every action. Work them too hard and you risk mutiny, be too lenient and they will simply take advantage of your kindness.
Managing your crew is another key component to survival. Upon using up your moves for the day on the world map, your Conquistador is tasked with assigning each crew member their duty for the night. Each unit has various specialties that allow them do certain duties better. Soldiers are the best at guarding your camp’s perimeter, Hunters are the best at finding meat for food, and Scouts make expert patrol teams and so on. Learning how to best utilize your team, as well as managing how to best spend your precious rations makes every night an entertaining challenge.
The New World feels very alive in Conquistadors. While it is not the most beautiful game on the market, the team at Logic Artists has done an excellent job at creating a world that feels untouched and alien, all while being very natural. The thick forests and sprawling mountains look good, and the foliage on trees is clean and even serves to block your vision upon scanning the map.
The portraits for each character in the game fit the time period perfectly. Each and every one looks like an oil painting taken right from a museum. Character models, however, aren’t quite as lovely. With the camera pulled out in combat they are more than passable, but should you choose to zoom everything in, everything looks fairly bland. This is understandable, however, as tactical games like this are traditionally played from a distance.
Conquistadors comes alive with the sounds of the New World. Entering a market area allows you to hear the bustle of foot traffic and in combat each sword swing has a satisfying sound with it. Perhaps the best sound in the entire game is the THWUNK of an enemy blow dart gun. It’s hard not to be entertained by it every time, even if it leads to your soldier on the opposite end of the attack getting poisoned.
During the game’s plot-heavy moments, the score adds to the game’s tension. Before important battles, the music serves as a call to arms, making it easy to get pumped up as you fight for survival.
Expedition: Conquistadors is an entertaining and immersive experience from start to finish. With the amount of customization offered, from selecting who will make the journey to the New World with you to the brilliant branching dialogue paths of each conversation, everything in Conquistadors feels highly detailed. While it isn’t the prettiest game you will ever play, it is one of the deepest, especially for its bargain price. Historical buffs, tactical fans, and role-players alike will find countless hours of entertainment in Conquistadors making it a must buy.
*The Author recieved a review copy of Expeditions: Conquistadors. Expeditions: Conquistadors is available for PC, Mac, and Linux. The PC version was used for review purposes.