Confrontation: Is this tabletop-to-PC leap a success?

April 23, 2012

From the company that brought you Blood Bowl and garnered a couple of positive reviews in the process, one would figure that the company’s next game would try ride the wave of that success. Focus Home Interactive’s Confrontation, originally a tabletop warfare game, sounds like the type of game that would work very well translated to video game form. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet those expectations.

The game is set in the world of Aarklash. You take control of one of the four factions available in-game, the Griffins of Akkylannie, to fight against the Alchemists of Dirz, the Wolfen of Yllia and the Orcs of Bran-Ô-Kor. Now if any of these names sounds like gibberish to you, you’re not alone. From the moment you start playing, this is exactly what you’re bombarded with. While fans of the series might be familiar with the names, newcomers (such as myself) will find a bit of trouble trying to comprehend what’s going on. If it’s any consolation, reading any of the Codex entries available in-game didn’t help me much either.

You have a team of four individual characters who have their own unique abilities. As odd as it sounds, the game tries to play like a tactical RPG, where timing and spacing is everything, but tries to blend it in with real time elements, like Diablo.  For the most part, it all actually works, aside from a couple of qualms I had (which I’ll note in a bit). While customization doesn’t go as deep as being able to equip different armor or weapons, you can find loot throughout the game to power up your equipment. You can also level-up and customize each character’s stats and abilities to your liking.

Several things I found wrong with the gameplay boiled down to how flawed some mechanics are. Pathfinding was probably the highlight of this. For a large majority of my adventure, I found myself getting lost because of a tiny path I couldn’t see after rotating the camera, or even going in the wrong direction only to find the path was blocked off. During battles, I found several of my ranged attackers to be useless for one of two reasons: either they couldn’t shoot past the tanks on my squad (making their attack worthless), or they couldn’t even begin to attack because somehow when I commanded them to move, they figured the best path to take would be through my tanks and the enemies, rather than going around them. Instead, I find them running in place because their path is being blocked by my own team. While you can pause the game to fine-tune your strategy, I found that I had a better shot just letting the game time flow and taking my chances there due to the unremarkable AI.

From what I’ve read about game, it shines in multiplayer. Unfortunately, it’s something I’ll probably never be able to experience. I tried to search for a multiplayer game various times throughout my review period, and not once did I ever manage to successfully find a match. Kudos to you if you could actually find one!

Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do much graphically either. From a rather promising-looking trailer and the specs for a modern graphically-intensive game, it’s a disappointment to see how the game itself actually turned out. From blocky visuals to weak textures, even on the highest setting it wasn’t much of a pleasure to look at either. Musically, it was okay as well, but I found myself turning down my volume any because I didn’t want to hear “for the temple” every time I commanded my party to move forward.

Overall, I just found Confrontation to be unremarkable. With a confusing storyline, some weak game mechanics and disappointing visuals, the game’s really only recommended for fans of the tabletop series. While there were a couple of good ideas that could’ve been fleshed out a little more, most of them are easily overshadowed by the flaws of the game

Pros: Nice blend of tactical and RTS-style battles
Cons: Confusing story, poor pathfinding

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.