In the world of Aarklash, the Age of Rag’narok is almost upon us, if the Griffin forces do not take on the Alchemists of Dirz, the Path of Darkness may well see favour if the Path of the Light do not win the battle. It’s up to an elite squad of the Griffin to change the outcome for the end of times as they chase down the forces of the Scorpions through the heart of the Syhar desert, the Bran’O’Kor canyons of the Orcs and the dark forests of Diisha guarded by Yllia and the Wolfen’s packs in Cyanide Studios’ Confrontation.
The Griffin will achieve victory in battle through tactical strategy; no this is no RTS, or turn based strategy like most tabletop adaptations, but a fervent roleplaying game eager to challenge your skills in the field of combat. With four men under your control at a time, you need to balance out buffs, keep your vulnerable members behind the front lines and be bold in your strategies.
Confrontation sees the return of pause, allowing you to break mid-fight in order to re-asses your tactics if the combat is not going in your favour, or simply to queue up a teammates’ skills before you engage in a conflict. All turns are taken automatically and delay counters -which can be enhanced- dictate how often your company attack, now this game is by no means a hack-n-slash in disguise like some tactical RPGs, and the game truly comes down to the value of your tactics; go into a battle without a plan and you’ll soon see your men taken down viciously one by one.
When you begin the game you will control Darius and his squad, however as you progress through the story, your band of fighters will expand with survivors, escapees and general enemies of the Scorpion forces. With the potential twelve squad members you can swap out any characters you wish at safe points throughout a mission, so if rather than a ranged support you require a bit of a stronger magical aid you can switch your team members at the drop of a hat, but be warned, you cannot simply expect to survive the quest of the Griffin on Tanks or Magicians alone, the key to Confrontation is balancing your squad so that you are sampling the best of all worlds.
As Ron Perlman reminds us, war never changes, and it’s definitely the case in Confrontation, and you will find the odd mission gets fairly repetitive; infiltrate base, exterminate enemy, locate new base, exterminate enemy, chase enemy, destroy enemy, find more enemies. But no one ever said war would be fun, what saves Confrontation from becoming a repetitive chore is that no two battles are ever the same; sure the AI will attempt to use the same tactics when you enter into combat, but as soon as you use that first segment of your mana or stamina, you take your team into an exciting and unpredictable skirmish that will hopefully see you as the victor. However for the same reason a loss is the sign of a loss of awareness, lose your concentration, and you’ll soon find you lose the game, if you aren’t switched on, be prepared for a hell of a bumpy ride.
As your team levels up you will be able to increase their stats for the customary attributes, and increase their competence in certain skills; suddenly the simple Stun becomes a strong tactical support when facing a crowd of enemies when you’ve managed to increase it to level 4. Choice is not your enemy in Confrontation, and your tech tree contains the most decisions you will have to make when improving weapons and armour, and that is all! For once in a game your skills are predetermined by your character, and rather than unlocking them from a ridiculously long list of possibilities they are simply unlocked as you naturally level up throughout the game.
Now in Confrontation you won’t find many useless carbon copies wandering around in enemy territory, after all the game is based on a table top war game where every unit has a true purpose, whether you come head-to head with an Orc Shaman, a Scorpion Biopist, or just a simple crossbowman every unit serves a specific function, and you will be able to learn the best strategies and approaches to even the Mecasyatis of the world.
Whilst the single player campaign is the real star of the show, Confrontation also includes a multiplayer mode that is ladder based and allows 1v1 battles. The concept is quite baffling in a tactical RPG, but it does actually work, and given the choice of four squad members you can play any of the four factions; the Orcs of Bran-O-Kor, the Wolfen, the Scorpions or the Griffin, you get to experience the fight from the other side of the coin.
Because you are probably wondering how it works, the Multiplayer is actually very similar to single player, except players do not have control of pause, so it’s a frantic rush for skills and support as you try and quash your opponent with the first to two wins. Each round lasts about 2-3 minutes making a match nice and brief at around 10 minutes a pop; far more to the point than your standard 30-60 minute match on standard strategy games, the only real trouble is finding someone to play on the rather quiet servers at the moment.
Despite being based around the popular Rackham game of the same name, Confrontation is not going to lock you out for not knowing the lore, after all, Joseph Campbell taught us all that there are only so many plots, and video games are just as true. So whether you are a fan of Confrontation, or have only just heard of it thanks to Cyanide’s game, you’ll find an enjoyable tactical roleplaying title nonetheless.
It’s the little things that really help Confrontation, such as the army painter to help give your multiplayer battles a bit of individuality, or the mountains of codex entries that eager knowledge pits will love to soak in, or the great feeling of squashing a Neuromancer before they manage to immobilise your squad, as you play through the campaign you begin to pick up on points that you love, and a few other points too.
At times the game can get frustratingly difficult, and despite throwing your best strategies into a fight you’ll keep coming out with a legion of the dead, unlike similar games, there is not a strong medic class throughout the story which may well be down to the original tabletop game, but it does mean that you will often find yourself in a bit of a pickle deciding whether to attempt to revive one of your fallen characters, or continue with the fight and do your best in a doomed situation. It’s nothing a few attempts at a particularly difficult battle will not fix, but when you are learning the game and keep getting decimated by a certain group of enemies, you become a little disheartened.
Some may find fault with the visual style and graphics that the game carries with it, depending on how high your expectations are you probably need to be taken outside and shot, thankfully the tactical strategy and roleplaying involved in Confrontation outweighs any squabbles with the overall look of the game, after all why would people keep returning to the good old games if graphics really meant anything.
If you prefer to use your head rather than attack, attack, heal, then Confrontation will be right up your alley, it’s everything you would want in a roleplaying game and requires a true eye for strategy whether you are balancing up your squad, or choosing what skills to use, just makes sure that this is one game your attention will never wane.
Confrontation is available now in all good retailers and online distribution channels for the SRP of £29.99, if you want a challenging tactical roleplaying game with a rich universe, well Confrontation is your best bet, after all the world of Aarklash has been around for years!