First Impressions on Confrontation

I was recently given the chance to take a quick look at the upcoming tactical fantasy RPG Confrontation, developed by Cyanide Studios. Set in the mystical world of Aarklash just before the world-ending age of Rag’narok, players take the role of a small-but-elite squad of Griffin soldiers, out to solve the mystery of the coming end of the world and, if possible, prevent it.

Confrontation has its roots in a tabletop miniature war game, and as such there’s already plenty of lore in place. Unfortunately, most of it has the throw-an-apostrophe-in-it-and-call-it-fantasy taste to it, which might send more experienced or haughty fantasy RPG players packing. Once you get past the number of apostrophes and ellipses, however, the lore is actually quite deep.

The map is, as you’d expect from a game calling itself “epic”: expansive and detailed, and the racial and cultural identities are wide-ranging and distinct. They do align themselves along familiar lines, with clannish orcs and arrogant wizards making their inevitable appearances, but so far the campaign seems oriented toward delving deeply into the established world.

So, what can expect from the gameplay itself? With it being labeled as “tactical,” it probably means it’s predominantly turn-based, though whether that’s going to manifest with all the dice rolls and turn clocks occurring somewhat behind the scenes is yet to be seen. The video features many shots of warriors running – mostly through trees, caves and at other warriors – but there’s not a lot of actual fighting to be observed. What we do know is Confrontation is all about squad management, and the squad looks like it can range in size from a few elite troops to a sprawling army. Crowd control abilities and area-of-effect spells are also promised to be prominently featured.

The campaign is geared toward leading a small, reckless band of fighters from the Griffin; the “banners” or each “faction” also seem to be what they’re referred to, rather than the country they hail from (with names like Akkylannie and Syharhalna, that’s probably for the best). The player leads them into the dangerous desert lands of the Scorpion to learn the truth about the coming of Rag’narok. Rag’narok – not to be confused with the non-fantasy, non-apostrophized Ragnarok of Norse mythology – is a mystery; aside from being prophesied as a time in which the gods will choose champions and put the world to the sword, not much is known about its effects or aftermath.

Nevertheless, the prospect is terrifying enough for the leaders of the Griffin to send a group to explore and, if possible, stop Rag’narok before it begins. With the situation – epoch-defining conflict with a possible end of the known world – being so familiar, the idea of not playing as an avatar of virtue or a farmboy-turned-hero character seems refreshing enough to give it a go.

With a promising single player, Confrontation also set its sights on a multiplayer portion. You can choose any one of the five factions to play from, build a squad from the ground up, and challenge other players and their squads for battlefield dominance. If the action is as fast-paced as it looks, and the squad management as deep as they promise, the multiplayer should be fun at the very least, and a splendid opportunity to allow players to further delve into the game’s lore.

Confrontation, developed by Cyanide Studios and distributed by Focus Home Interactive, releases April 5, 2012.

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March 21, 2012 - 8:30 am