Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike developed by Convoy Games and published by Triangle Studios is a tough, often hilarious, trek across a barren land to find the parts necessary to repair your spaceship and return home.
You and your crew have landed on Omek Prime, desperate to repair your ship after a solar flare has destroyed many of your ship’s main components. Your captain has sent you out into the barren wasteland in search of various items needed to return your ship to working order. Unfortunately for you and your crew, Omek Prime is a world rife with danger. Three factions fight for control of the planet: The Privateers, the Raiders, and the T.O.R.V.A.K.
The Privateers are former bounty hunters working for the fallen Landinar Empire. They have been given the right to enforce law on Omek prime. Obsessed by wealth, the Privateers frequently take advantage of travelers. Vehicles made by Privateers tend to be held together by pillaged parts and stolen shields from other factions. The Privateers will show up as green on your map.
The Raiders are individuals infected with a xeno micro organism after a quarantine breach at the station Diemauer. This infection enhanced their senses and abilities both physically and mentally, but leaves them erratic. Known to be harsh, they love to attack travelers and other unsuspecting victims. Raider vehicles tend to be overloaded with weapons rather than shields, causing their vehicles to be easily destroyed, but to pack a powerful punch. The Raiders will show up as Red on your map.
The T.O.R.V.A.K. is a tech based cult created after A.I. made a replicator facility. They seek to advance their technological knowledge and will destroy anybody that stands in their way. Their vehicles tend to be balanced between weapon and utilities, causing them to be harsh foes. The T.O.R.V.A.K. will show up as blue on your map.
To repair your spaceship, you must locate the Blue R998X Chip which is essential to the FluffOS which runs most of your primary spaceship systems; Compression Coil, necessary to run the main engine of the spaceship; Multicellulose Infused Ethanol, necessary for the food replicator to function properly; Self-Sealing stem bolts, necessary for repairs aboard your ship; Flux Capacitor, Hyperdrive Stabilizers, and various other items.
Despite the fancy names, the items are essentially just a list of objectives. You will fulfill various quests to receive the items and then trek back to your ship to have the items installed.
The core of the game is traversing a map, balancing your money, fighting off the various factions, fulfilling quests, keeping your Main Convoy Vehicle functioning, and managing your fuel.
You begin with two escort vehicles and a Main Convoy Vehicle (MCV). The goal of the game is to keep your MCV functioning – if it is destroyed, you will face an automatic game over. The MCV is essentially defenseless on its own. Sure, it can have various abilities added to it which helps in a fight, but rarely will those abilities be enough to take on an entire faction on their own.
This is where your escort vehicles come in. Escort vehicles start out with basic weapons, health, and armor but can be upgraded. Utilities such as shields can be added, while stronger weapons can be purchased. You can upgrade a vehicle’s health, armor, handling, range, etc. Beware though, if an escort vehicle is destroyed in combat then all progress with that vehicle is lost. Upgrades, weapons, etc. will be gone and you will have to purchase a new vehicle and begin again from scratch.
If your MCV is destroyed you will lose all progress made in your playthrough and be forced to start over. While there is the ability to save and exit if you are mid-mission and need to turn the game off – there is not the ability to reload a save after seeing a game over screen. This threat of permadeath gives Convoy a sense of urgency not present in most games. While stress can add a layer of depth to a game, sometimes it can also remove the fun of experimenting. When you are so afraid of making a mistake and losing all your progress, it is very hard justifying helping others in the game, tackling side quests, or even exploring for various random scenarios.
Speaking of scenarios – the game is essentially split into tons of various ones. You traverse the map by controlling your vehicle on the map screen. Selecting an objective will display an arrow pointing you in the right direction along with how far away you are. The map is broken down into roads, mountains, deserts, and Red/Green/Blue sections which alert you as to when you are entering an enemy’s territory.
Traveling via road may take longer, but will help you conserve fuel – which is necessary as being stranded without fuel will trigger multiple events, most of which will not end well for you. Crossing mountains and deserts will help you reach your destination quicker, but at the expense of a large amount of fuel. Camps are located throughout the map so you can refuel, heal your convoy, purchase new vehicles or weapons, and upgrade.
Unfortunately, everything done at a camp requires the use of scrap – the game’s currency. Scrap pieces are few and far between during the game, leaving players often faced with the choice of healing their team, purchasing upgrades, or purchasing fuel. This does prevent your convoy from becoming overpowered, but almost makes it feel like you are never able to get a leg up on the competition. I spent most of my scrap purchasing fuel to get back and forth between destinations while fondly staring at the vehicles and upgrades I couldn’t afford. I’ll admit this did dampen my enjoyment of the game at times – but also made the times I was able to afford a new vehicle, a special weapon, or other items much more exciting.
As you progress along the map you will encounter numerous random scenarios. Sometimes these are just funny – Convoy is full of jabs at Star Wars and various other sci-fi films – while others may pit you unprepared against a faction, ending your run long before you’ve had a chance to progress. Despite this, I found myself enjoying the randomness. Sometimes I’d meet a crazy stranger, other times I’d step into some odd desert game show, while other times I’d find various items which ultimately led me to a much appreciated stash of scrap or fuel. The fact that you can ignore most scenarios or choose whether to help or hurt those you encounter helps to keep these scenarios entertaining for multiple playthroughs if you happen to encounter the same mission again.
The missions themselves are multi-tiered and play out like a choose your own adventure story. You can choose whether to enter a building, radio those inside, greet those around you in a friendly way, or barge in with weapons drawn. Sometimes taking the nice route works out in your favor – sometimes it leads you on a 3 part quest. Sometimes being bad ruins your chances or recovering a needed item at that spot, while other times it may give you the item automatically and prevent you from having to complete a long, drawn out quest. You never quite know the consequences of your actions and many times what happens will be unexpected.
The sense of choice is one of Convoy’s greatest strengths and helps lend some much needed replayability in a game where you will be forced to start over many times before finally reaching the ending.
Aside from missions, your other main objective is to fight off the various factions. When in a fight the game switches to an overhead view of your MCV and escort vehicles. From here you can control the escort vehicles and place them at various spots around your MCV to protect it. Enemies must be within range of your escort vehicles to be attacked. You can shoot enemies or you can slam into them, which causes massive damage but hurts your vehicle as well. Slamming into enemies works best when there is a wall or other obstacle to slam them into which will immediately destroy them.
Your MCV begins with an EMP blast which can disable an enemy’s vehicle for a short period of time, but can be upgraded to include land mines, rail guns, and other deadly abilities. The best of these weapons have an incredibly long recharge rate, so – while useful during battle – they are no substitute for your escort vehicles.
While fighting off enemy factions you must remain cautious of other dangers, such as mines on the ground or deadly obstacles blocking the path. You will be warned of objects and where they are by a skull and crossbones which will occasionally pop up, anytime you see this you must be sure to get out of the path the skull and crossbones is on. It is difficult at first to master planning attacks, moving your escort vehicles to keep up with enemies, using your MCV’s weapons and dodging obstacles but after some time you will learn the basic flow of battle.
Battles can be long and stressful, but in the end you are awarded both scrap and fuel. Sometimes you may even acquire a new weapon or ability.
Convoy is a tough, although unique and enjoyable, game. While at first I was frustrated at my many deaths, I soon found my footing and began making progress with each playthrough. There is a great sense of reward found from accomplishing your objectives, fighting off the various factions, and repairing your spaceship. A reward that feels hard-earned.
If you are a fan of tough games and enjoy the freedom to make choices and view the various outcomes, you will enjoy Convoy.
Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. Thanks to Convoy Games and Triangle Studios for provided Fan Fest News with a review copy.