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Of all the games you’d want to play that could spawn from a playstyle where you command a starship crew to explore a randomly generated world like Subset Games’ brilliant FTL: Faster Than Light, one from a Mad Max: Fury Road setting would probably be at the bottom of the list.
Yet after a couple of hours of playing, that’s exactly what Convoy felt like. It’s real shiny too, compared to the passable Mad Max: The Video Game released a little after this fall.
Convoy, a rogue-like game funded through Kickstarter and released on April 21, 2015 by developer Convoy Games, puts you in control of – you guessed it – a convoy of vehicles, as you roam a lawless desert planet littered with groups that want to kill you as you try to reclaim parts for your freighter ship. Just like any rogue-like game, Convoy’s emphasis is not as much about winning and completing the main objectives as it is enjoying each playthrough (provided that you don’t die) on its own.
Quests and encounters that come in between you reaching your objectives, and how to complete the objectives to acquire the parts themselves, are always different each time you play. For example, one chance encounter has you deciding whether to help a stranded man being harassed by raiders. If you do help him he can either try to backstab you after you’re rid of the raiders or offer to join your crew. The game always remains fresh and leaves little chance for repetitiveness with these kinds of interactions and this is where Convoy truly shines.
The unpredictability can easily get you killed but if you’re smart and learn to choose your encounters carefully by paying attention, you come off these tense moments pretty satisfied and alive with your choices, or left with one more addition to defend your main convoy vehicle – and the nearest resupply camp is probably littered with more raiders. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that makes this so satisfying.
All of this could probably describe FTL as this game draws a lot from it, but Convoy separates itself once you’re in combat. Success in combat has you factoring in the position, firing range and incoming obstacles as your vehicles careen through the desert, and the half real-time strategy with a pause feature helps plan out your attack. These combat sequences create a great sense of tension as you have to keep changing your attack and defensive formation to help you survive an unforgiving AI constantly looking for holes in your defence. Coupled with the leveling system and the ability to customize each vehicles’ weapon load out and upgrades from parts you have either scavenged, pillaged or purchased, you are sure to have a constant stream of ways to dispatch any would-be attacker.
The graphics in the game are pretty basic and could probably be mistaken for an android game (which would be pretty good if it were on android). It doesn’t take away much from the game because the menu layouts and the overworld map are uncluttered and pretty easy to understand. The fact that each weapon on the enemy vehicles are recognizable enough after a couple of plays makes the learning curve a lot easier, a trait that is missing in many games of this genre.
The sound and music are probably the weakest part. Like many indie games of this genre, it often tries to emulate older videogames and the sound effects just end up sounding low quality and dated. The music sounds like a non-stop rave and I muted it the first chance I got. To fix that, and I recommend you try it too, I played the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack along the game.
Mad Max: Fury Road the Game Convoy stands very well on its own and innovates from what FTL: Faster Than Light has already laid out. It creates enough twists from its gameplay and mechanics to separate itself and maybe even surpass such a great and innovative experience to begin with. The different stories that can be created for each random encounter gives the player an engaging world full of its own quirks and complexities. Here’s hoping for a game in the future that improves on that even further, making things even more shiny and chrome.
4 blood bags out of 5
Developer: Convoy Games
Publisher: Indietopia Games
Released: April 21 2015
Price: $12.17 US $16.99 CAD
Playthrough logged:25 hours (completed once)
Played on PC
Enrico and his cat, Oswin, are always looking for new games to play when not worrying about the Red Sox season. A former Montreal resident, he now lives in Toronto eating all their korean bbq.