Qvadriga Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Qvadriga Review



Variations on a genre or a concept can be extremely different, especially given time and creative thinkers. For example, top down, or an eagle eye view, has always been a popular view for strategic games due to the nature of the genre and the availability of information from such a sight. Some developers may capitalize on this trend by making you, the player, a god-like entity, given the ability to control everything. As I gain most of my early video game knowledge from the nineties, I was introduced to the concept of top down with franchises like Command and Conquer, offering an experience other games couldn’t. With a rise in popularity, other developers have decided to continue with this view in order to capture their vision of a strategy. Qvadriga is a recent example.

Qvadriga is a top down sports racing simulation with strategy elements by developers Turnopia and published by Slitherine Ltd. The game appears to be a fan made project and is the first title of the development team, which appears to be comprised of one person. On the website, Daniel Lopez Soria, the creator, declares his love board games and his passion to produce fun, tabletop games for an electronic game audience.

The game, if you hadn’t guessed already, is a chariot-racing simulator that relies on turn-based strategy in order to make informed decisions regarding progression using the choices of the other racers around you. The goal in the campaign, putting aside gaining fame and favor with the gods, is to race at the Circus Maximus and to win three times. In order to do this, you have to gain popularity amongst crowds by racing at smaller venues around ancient Rome. As you progress, you race at bigger stadiums until you are invited to the main event in the chariot-racing calendar.

The tutorial is lengthy and in some cases lazy. The player is presented with nine pages of text introducing new racers to aspects like factions, game modes, upgrades and advice, all of which can be rather lengthy. Everything is explained within these menus, which makes me question the level of progression throughout the game. If I already know everything, there can’t be much depth to the game. I feel the title would have benefited from a playable tutorial as it would be more engaging and could teach a variety of aspects indirectly. It is understandable, that perhaps the developer tried to reflect upon board games instructions but unfortunately video game audiences expect to learn a title without hassle, something board game players may not be used to.

As you may imagine, gameplay, like many strategy turn based games, involves clicking user interfaces to achieve the desired effect. Throughout the race you have a grid of options, all represented by symbols. Some are self explanatory like changing lanes, which are represented by arrows, where as some can be obscure like whip. This can mean wasted time and a lose of out-game momentum. As you move around the track, every ten seconds the game will stop and present the available options, which is long enough to become immersed in the simulation. If you fail consistently, or do enough damage to certain parts of your chariot you may find horses getting injured or dying or your cart collapsing leaving your racer clinging onto the reigns for dear life.

Whilst turned based works well for the majority, you are given the option of dynamic turns, which offer the action without stopping the gameplay. Choices can be made at any time allowing players to become immersed throughout the whole race. It is not advisable to use dynamic turns if you are new due to the number of obscure symbology regarding the options and may require a more experienced player to navigate it with relative ease.

Upon beginning the campaign, you are given the choice of six factions including Russata, Albata, Veneta, Praesina, Aurata and Purpura. All grant three fixed upgrades spread between Auriga, chariot and horses where, arguably, the race is either won or lost. Smart choices of upgrades may prevent certain hazards that often crush any chance of victory you have. The upgrades are relatively similar offering little definition between classes but due to the simplicity of the gameplay, this is most likely justified.

With every win, whether it’s first, second or third, you earn Denarius, which is the in game currency. This can be used in the shop to buy goods or services like chariots, horses and people to ride on your behalf but there are stalls located towards the bottom of the shop that I cannot identify. Due to my limited success with the title I have not been able to earn enough to use on of these stall, which leaves their uses up to speculation. From my best guess, I imagine they are healers for people and horses alike and crafters that help fix the chariots. There were no tool tips like with the races, which make it difficult to establish certain uses for equipment. This is an oversight by the developer. The shop layout is messy at best, which leads me graciously onto my next point.

Outside of the main menu, the following look unprofessional and messy, with selected text being hard to read due to its colour and striking resemblance to the background. There doesn’t seem to be any status quo amongst the text with the exception of coloured bars separating certain statistics. This achieves an unpleasing aesthetic amongst the writing in the menus, which cannot go unnoticed.

The game is challenging depending on certain situations you find yourself in. You can be sandwiched between racers making acceleration hard or even impossible, which can prevent any sufficient lead being gained. This can also be worsened by the appalling sportsmanship of the A.I that was so commonplace back in ancient Rome. You can be knocked about and deliberately bumped into to slow you down, which is as frustrating as it sounds.

The graphics look dated but the title manages to elude criticism due to the top down nature of the game, making texture quality ineffective due to the size of the racers and audience. Arenas look similar with no outstanding features to differentiate themselves, which is disappointing, as I believe the developer could have capitalized on this. I have already established the unprofessional graphics within the menus and the lazy attempt to correct them.

The sound design is good, achieving an immersive audience sound. Their reactions to crashes or wins are matched with modern day stadium crowds, which is appealing. Music in the menus appears to follow a strict Roman theme, filling the sound with brass instruments, reflecting the period the game is set. Additionally, sounds from the racers themselves sound realistic with a combination of horse and carts battling against each other.

Qvadriga is an interesting concept with very little competition. The game is competent at what it does but has complications like some graphical issues in the menus that let the game down. Certainly, the game is fun but it doesn’t offer players a memorable experience due to its lack of progression. Within the first hour the game becomes dull and repetitive making the title hard to continue, however, the game will have an audience and dare I point my finger towards fathers? This sort of game, with heavy historical basis would suit a father figure like my own offering a generic experience but includes educational history experiences. Replayability is unfortunately non-existent, limiting the games shelf life.

Games like Qvadriga will have a target audience, those who may be fond of board games so with a little work I can see the developer finding a niche in the gaming industry, one that may currently undervalue its audience. The developers website hints to future games including Napoleonic naval warfare, WWI land battles or even motor races leading me to believe this developer may have potential amongst a certain audience.