Almost 20 years after the first Spellforce game, Spellforce: Conquest of Eo was released. I initially expected a pretty standard 4x strategy game, but this was not the case. It is similar to games like Age of Wonders, but it has strong elements of event-driven RPGs as well. Does it hold up against the other games in this series? Continue reading our Spellforce: Conquest of Eo review to find out!
A new direction
SpellForce: Conquest of Eo offers a unique and engaging gameplay experience by combining elements of 4X strategy games, RPGs, and turn-based tactical combat. Your mobile base of operations – your mage’s tower – and depleting resources keep players constantly moving, preventing the stagnation that can occur in the late-game of other 4X games. Instead, the game focuses on the thrill of discovery and danger of early gameplay, while also allowing for research and experimentation to improve units as they level up and acquire new equipment and abilities. With a wealth of procedurally generated adventures and RPG elements, SpellForce: Conquest of Eo transforms the classic RTS-RPG mix into a turn-based 4X RPG experience.
For people that come in expecting a similar playstyle to Age of Wonders 4, or even the previous entries in the Spellforce series, they may be quite surprised to find that this entry is quite different. You start by picking one of three Archetype characters (Alchemist, Necromancer, Artificer) or by creating a custom mage. You are then given an introduction to the story based on your archetype. After that you’ll be placed on the world map. The beginning of the game’s story is also used as the tutorial.
Without spoiling too much about it, I can say that the main story is not actually that interesting. I will say that the side quests are quite well written and were, at times, interesting enough to play. However the main story never really gripped me and it became more about spreading my influence around the world than it ever did about avenging my master.
Research & Destroy
In my first playthrough, I opted for the necromancer Archetype. Being a necromancer does not equate to being evil in this game. It does mean that most of your powers will be used to raise the dead to fight for you. You will lose some reputation with the local authorities when you start drawing manpower from their graveyards. You use research to get new technologies and spells which takes multiple turns. So it is advised to have your research going at all times. As your units are exploring the world, you take quite a few turns. That means that each time you are not researching, you are wasting time that may prove valuable near the end of your game.
As your merry band of warriors spread throughout the map, they are met with cutthroats, hostile guards, monsters and mages that wish to destroy you. When entering combat, you can choose to retreat, auto-resolve the combat or start the battle. When fights were easy enough, I would choose to auto-resolve after the first few battles. But it was always a fun moment when I managed to turn a decisive defeat into my favor by actually fighting and using the required tactics to win the fight. Especially for my combat units where this happened more often, I would grow to appreciate that group a bit more and keep a closer eye on their progress as they moved throughout the lands.
The combat itself is enjoyable enough, although I did feel like most of my minions were exposable and lacked the feeling of a vast army. Only the ones that had proven themselves in battle before actually held my interest. I found that they were eventually strong enough to do well in most of the battles without me having to interfere too much. I liked the turn-based fighting and I liked proving how powerful I had become over time. Perhaps the game intended me to care for some units more than others. As they leveled up, so too was my influence growing over the lands of Eo. And with influence, came apprentices that would follow me on my journey. Apprentices are powerful additions to your armies, each with unique abilities and stats.
The overall story of the game, the map and its major locations are fixed. This means that the game is not infinitely replayable for most people. There are slight changes in your playstyle depending on the Archetype you choose, so I can definitely see you playing the game in a few different ways. But overall this does mean that unless you want to optimize your build, or wish to reach the victory conditions as soon as possible, you may find yourself done with the game after one or two playthroughs. Does that mean that the game is not worth its price? That is for you to decide. But with the price point of 30 euros, I think you can get quite a few hours of game time back even if you finish the game in one playthrough or if you’re going back for seconds (or thirds).
The game’s graphics are fine, with both the overarching map and combat having enough details.The UI is functional enough. It’s simple, especially the over-world, but it gets the job done. The graphics are never flashy and I can’t say that it looks great. However I can’t really dock it any points for the presentation as it is. It’s adequate. And I think this can be said for most of this game.
The main story is not that interesting but the side-quests are pretty good for the most part. The combat is tight and works well and the game has quite some depth to it but there is not a lot of replayability. Each strong point has a weakness to counteract it. Each time I found myself wanting to play one more turn, some part of me was also disappointed in the things that it could have improved upon. For the current price, I can recommend the game, but more so if you managed to get it at a discount.
- Tight combat with quite a bit of depth to the gameplay
- RPG elements and decent quests
- Main story not that interesting
- Graphics are OK at best
- Replayability questionable