Scott Watson reviews Planar Conquest…
Planar Conquest is definitely one for the purists of this genre. I’ll get that one out there right now. This turn-based fantasy strategy apparently let’s you “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate” it announces from its site. Trouble is, before you’ve even started the game you feel weighed down by the burden of a hefty tutorial on how to play it that you’ve forgotten it all by the time you actually start the game. Even starting the game involves setting up all manner of parameters, including how many planes you wish to be able to travel through, their land mass and more (although granted this can all be left alone).
Once started, you’re pretty much left to your own devices. With a small troop out in the world, not far from my central city, I decided to see what I could uncover on my travels. Around the game board and your travels, you’ll find various points of interest or locales. a simple long hold on the location lets you see if it’s worthwhile fighting for as you’re shown the potential enemies and rewards that place holds. Sadly, anywhere near me at the start was shown to be far too dangerous to enter, so a quick jump back to my citadel was in order to create a larger force to take out into the world.
Your home city brings an element of resource management into the game, where you can create new troops, buildings and the like while managing taxes and monitoring citizen unrest. It’s all very uninspiring and once again an overload of information. Creating new troops or buildings takes time and turns, so once that was done it was back to my troops in the field.
This is pretty much the ebb and flow of the game. It’s a dance between troop movement, discovery and battles and the resource management of your city and production of new units and buildings each turn. The trouble is that it all feels so bland. It’s fantasy 101, aside perhaps from the ability to move between planes (hence said title of game). Even then, this is nothing more than a palette switch and some different looking vegetation.
If you’re going to bring a turn-based game to a platform such as iOS, where gaming tends to be of the casual variety, you need it to grip you from the beginning. You need it to be uncomplicated and straight to the point. It needs to have some form of instant gratification that makes you want to continue. Sadly Planar Conquest has none of this and feels like it would be far more at home on PC than on tablet.
Planar Conquest is available now on iOS from the app store.