Spellforce: Conquest of Eo review | Welcome, dear wizard, to my domain. You are not with the Circle, are you? Good, you may come into the tower. I was in the middle of deciphering my master’s grimoire, crafting some potions, hiring new soldiers, building a new workshop… This is but a regular day in the life of the mage student in SpellForce: Conquest of Eo. This latest entry in the SpellForce franchise takes place even before the events of the first game. Don’t let the grand strategy guise fool you, however; this is a more subdued affair, a mix of turn-based hex strategy and RPG events/choices based adventuring. The setting is incredibly rich lore-wise, but surprisingly simple to follow for someone with no intimate knowledge of the franchise. This is partially due to many things following fantasy trope conventions or having pretty self explanatory names ─or simply being explained the first time they appear.
|Developer||Owned by Gravity|
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Integrated tutorial | The first time you launch a campaign, tutorial boxes will guide you through your first steps in Eo. These can be disabled (and restarted) any time, as well as reviewed whenever possible. There is some overlap between the tutorials and the first few story missions. At the same time, you can discover new systems at your own pace: the game doesn’t push you to learn everything in the first five minutes, instead letting the player click on the new icons that popped up when they feel ready to tackle them. In a way, the game rewards curiosity and willingness to learn.
- Beautiful artwork and music | The land of Eo is a feast for the eyes and ears. Both the in-game maps and, especially, the hand-painted-looking artwork that accompanies the RPG beats are stunning. Both work very well to set the mood. The music doesn’t lag behind either, an orchestral score that accentuates (but doesn’t drown out) the calm, meditative pace of turns in the overworld. Furthermore, it appropriately sets the tone during the confrontations between troops.
- Great reminders | Two simple and elegant features help guide players throughout the many systems of the game. The first one prompts you to take certain actions during your turn, before you go to end it. For example, if you have units awaiting orders or you aren’t performing any research, the game will remind you when you go to the ‘end turn’ button or when you press the hotkey to do so. Another useful feature is the important events summary. Discoveries and events that took place last turn (those important enough) will be listed at the bottom right of the screen, in the general area of the next turn button. These help massively when learning the game and when loading a save.
- Tutorial review is text only | If you are in need of a reminder, all of the game’s tutorial boxes are available to the player at any point. However, these boxes are text-only explanations, as they appear during the story mission when first discovered. But where these are contextualised in the story by virtue of showing up when they’re relevant, no such thing happens in a menu. Just a couple of images would go a long way in explaining certain concepts in a much more concise way or making certain complex ideas much easier to digest ─for example, the concept of flanking can be explained fairly easily in just two pictures.
- Tech woes (No spell for tech hell) | Spellforce: Conquest of Eo is an amazing “On-the-go” game, the kind you can easily resume, play a few turns and put away when you need to go out. That is a luxury I wasn’t privy to as my 2018 laptop is already too underpowered to play a turn-based strategy game. For how beautiful this game looks, it is quite demanding for the genre; plus some players have reported several crashing issues and problems loading saved games. On the flip side, there has already been a patch addressing some of these merely a week into the game’s lifespan, so I remain optimistic that the situation will improve in terms of stability. Only time will tell.
What we Disliked
- No undo button | I understand the appeal of commitment, of not having the option of playing it safe and mashing ctrl + Z the second something goes wrong. But all that goes out the window the second unlimited saves and a quicksave button are introduced: Anyone willing to save scum can still play their perfect games, whereas making a legitimate misclick means having to reload a save if one wishes to undo their blunder. I am even willing to have a system where only a certain amount of undo’s are allowed per turn, but I would love to not lose a unit because of a legit accident that left them out in the open.
- Lack of impact | This game oozes detail and care. I saw a ghost cow walking through a battlefield once! When the bar is set so high, it’s easy for something small to bring it down. The animations are varied and serviceable, but the characters getting hit have very mild reactions: the screen never shakes, the sound effects for the hits lack impact or even a bassy thump. I keep wishing for those really impactful hits that make me grit my teeth and loudly breathe in through them, followed by that ever satisfying “Oohhh.”
How long to beat the story | 15-25 hours (varies greatly)
How long to get all achievements | 125 hours (at the very minimum, 3 full runs in the hardest difficulty are needed)
You’ll love this game if you like these | Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Overall, I’m quite satisfied with SpellForce: Conquest of Eo in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but I’m so glad that I gave it a chance. The writing for the RPG events is poignant, witty, goes into precisely as much detail as is needed; the gameplay itself makes me wish I could continue my turn going forever. Besides, it has that “Just one more turn” quality all good turn-based games should have. While there are some things that need some work, the developer team has shown a lot of commitment to their craft. I am quite happy to be enrolled as a wizard apprentice in this universi- Sorry, to be a wizard apprentice in this world.
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