Convoy Review – FTL and Mad Max-Inspired, All Original
Convoy Games might have just made some people’s dreams come true, especially for anyone waiting excitedly for the Mad Max game that E3 teased us with last year. But I’m here to tell you, there’s something to sink your teeth into that’s fun, and in my opinion better because of its originality and inspiration drawn from well made indie games, specifically FTL. Convoy is a squad-based roguelike that uses a unique take on tactical combat to allow for high speed chases featuring suped-up cars and other armored vehicles, with players moving around the screen, swerving to doge obstacles, and eventually blasting away at the scum trying to take them down. All the while, players travel across a strange world in order to seek out four important pieces of equipment for a capital ship that crash-landed, the Mercury.
Starting with the gameplay, Convoy is split into two different perspectives, switching between traveling along the wide world and experiencing combat encounters within a limited, albeit constantly moving, space. Players must travel the world on vehicles, utilizing the convoy in order to survive the badlands, which is mostly made up of other humans or humanoids with vehicles and charging weapons that pose a threat. The player also has a mobile command vehicle (MCV) that represents the main priority of the convoy, needing to be protected at all costs in any combat encounter.
Combat encounters very uniquely portray a high speed car chase with well-equipped and haphazardly-armored vehicles vying for tactical placement and firing at each other when in range. Players must navigate between moving and somewhat stationary vehicles in order to block pathways or move somewhere ideal to protect the MCV. Cars also need to avoid approaching obstacles that would spell instant doom and permanent destruction for the vehicle, and a severe loss for the convoy. Destroyed vehicles can be replaced, but only with a decent supply of earned scrap. On the other hand, the obstacles provide an early warning which allows players to move quickly and perhaps even force another car or two to slam into the side of a rock or part of a bridge.
Tactics aside, players also need to find encampments spread throughout the world, either in cities or by returning to their home base on the ship. At these locations, players can spend hard-earned scrap to upgrade vehicles, buy and attach weapons or upgrades, or simply purchase fuel that is rarely found anywhere but the dead husks of recently destroyed vehicles. Finally, the world view allows players to come across radio signals and other important events that allow for dialogue choices that can either hinder or benefit the player, forcing them to make tough decisions quickly, either with trusting the word of a stranded Raider, or by avoiding another fight occurring between rival gangs of Privateers.
The Convoy uses sprite art and colorful 2D graphics to portray the game. The world view looks similar to a zoomed-in satellite image, avoiding minor details but showing the overall landscape of the area, split into hexagonal spaces that represent new chances for a combat encounters. The actual combat is surprisingly graceful for such a difficult concept to portray, and showcases the overall mayhem of combat with explosions, rockets, lasers, EMP blasts, and more. The sprite art allows for the game to remain colorful and vibrant, while allowing for smooth gameplay and portraying a gritty setting.
The story follows the crew of the ship after they’ve crash landed on this strange, post-apocalyptic planet, filled with ruined cities, half-maintained roadways, and people simply trying to survive. There are also three main factions that are vying for power in an ever increasing struggle: Raiders, Privateers, and a powerful Corporation with resources, power, and several technological upgrades. Players are then tasked with seeking out four integral pieces of equipment for the ship in hopes of leaving the planet, each spread throughout the dangerous areas.
The soundtrack for Convoy is more minimal than other features of the game, but not without reason. For one thing, it feels similar to the FTL soundtrack, in that it isn’t there to overpower the senses or tell the story, but instead to simply set the mood, subtly reminding the player that the game might be quiet for now, but there could be danger around any corner. The game itself focuses on the sound effects and radio chatter to speak for the setting. Even thought the music does change, fitting with the pace of combat for example, it does tend to get lost under the flurry of fighting.
Even though it only takes four objectives to win the game, players will have to travel long distances and journeys in order to reach the starting point of the entire quest. On top of this, there are several side quests possible along the path the player takes, from trekking sluggishly through mountains to blazing past them by staying on the main roadways. There’s also a lot of replay value within the game as each planet is randomly generated, including the placement of each main and side objective. These four objectives tend to begin the same way, but they can easily branch off into almost entirely different plots, forcing players to keep on their toes as they go through a unique experience they may not have expected.
The game is a lot of fun, and certainly a challenge in some areas; the inspiration from FTL is certainly not lost here. Surviving the long journeys, and making sure to save up enough scrap to purchase fuel or to improve the survivability of the convoy itself is key, and dependent on how quickly players get used to the encounters. It’s important to expect the first few playthroughs to go roughly, even on the easy difficulty, since there are a lot of unique features on display. However, the combat is fresh and easy to get into, especially when it allows players to pause and think their moves over carefully. Can that vehicle speed up and squeeze between the car and the oncoming rock, or should it back off and go at it the long way around? Where will the next mine come from? This brings the game to a level of intense thought and strategy that is new, making the process of mastering it that much more fun.
The game stands apart from other roguelikes with its innovative combat system and the depth that comes with the many different quests and dialogue choices available for players. It improves on inspirations like FTL by creating more dynamic combat, moving vehicles almost like chess pieces on a moving board.
Convoy is available today for $14.99 on Steam, and supports Mac, Linux, and PC. In my opinion, with all of the features and replayability, it is well worth the price, and is great for those gamers who haven’t yet found something that fits with their need for a Mad Max game. With several potential hours of gameplay, unlockable vehicles, and hopefully some future content, the game will probably last a long time, too. For more information about Convoy Games and any of their upcoming projects, follow them on Twitter or visit their Facebook page.
- Fresh new form of tactical combat
- Vibrant colors in well-crafted sprite art
- Dynamic storytelling and quest lines
- High replay value
- The initial challenge will frustrate players to a certain degree
- Requires a certain degree of multitasking during combat