Convoy Review- Not Mediocre, but Not Witnessed Either
Developed by Convoy Games
Published by Indietopia Games, Triangle Studios
Available on Steam, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
The inspirations for Convoy are more than obvious. For the premise, Mad Max, and for the gameplay, FTL: Faster Than Light. In my opinion, two really good inspirational materials. FTL is hands down one of the greatest indie games ever. I probably put 300 hours into it, and still play it every once in a while. And I’m definitely going to compare Convoy to it 1000 times in this review. Mad Max: Fury Road is less a movie and more a full body and mind experience. It is a film of historic proportions. So good was Fury Road that my friend and I, in an inebriated stupor, bought some $1 Hotwheels and glued spikes to them one evening. So in theory, a tactical roguelike game where instead of managing one ship you get five cars is a concept that should get my serotonin synapses firing on all cylinders. In practice, I’m not sure Convoy entirely lives up to my hopes. But it certainly gets close.
Convoy takes place on a lawless planet filled with nothing but sandy desert, empty roads, and murderous psychos. Your city-sized spacecraft had some space birds fly into the jet intake or something and you’re forced to make an emergency landing. The goal of Convoy is to recover the four replacement parts you need to get the ship up and running again. You’ll guide a big armored war rig and a few backup combat vehicles around the planet to hopefully get those parts back without riding eternal on the highways of Valhalla.
The gameplay for Convoy is a little bit lacking. For the most part, it’s about what I would expect from a game inspired by FTL. There is a large overworld of which you traverse, scouring the desert for various interactable points. Large yellow markers show either a quest location or random event, more on those later. Travelling obviously requires fuel, you consume fuel faster and travel slower while off roading, and vice versa on pavement. Fairly self explanatory.
Unlike FTL, which had you on a strict time limit for exploring during your travels, Convoy lets you go at your own pace. If you want to go back to a rest stop in between every encounter, go hog wild. If you want to drive in circles to farm parts from raiders, well hey, slow and steady wins the deathrace. But slow and steady isn’t the best for this genre. In FTL if you missed a quest point, you’d have to go back and play through it again. Convoy lets you finish every quest, get every upgrade, and find every preferred bit of gear at your leisure. This kind of removes some of the urgency that FTL had, and with it, replayability.
Events in Convoy have some minor RPG elements, in the exact same style as FTL. Choices in most random encounters were simply fight or try and run. Quests and some encounters gave you some minor decision making moments; do you do a chore for a quest item or do you attack them and take it, do you attack head on or try an ambush, stuff of that nature. It’s all done through dialogue, so either it’s resolved through the text box or you do some combat. Sometimes you may gain some advantage or even get a cool item. Most of these are inconsequential, but they bring more life into the game’s world.
Then comes the combat. It’s a similar setup as FTL in that you have real time action going on, but you can pause the game and coordinate your units. The goal is to protect you MCV (main combat vehicle?) from attackers. Losing the MCV is a game over. This is where my disappointment in Convoy began. There is one strategy, and that’s having your guns target vehicles. While you do that, you need to do a lot of micromanaging. Making sure vehicles are in range, making sure vehicles don’t run into a wall, basically just that. Occasionally you can ram a vehicle and make them hit a wall, but I rarely had my cars in place at the right time for that to happen. Combat feels less like strategy and more like a Dutch boy and the dyke situation. This gets repetitive eventually, but for a while I still had some fun.
The worst part is that your MCV cannot move from the center of the screen. Every single fight it would take a massive amount of damage, and there’s really no way to prevent it. Its function in combat is to hold some special weapons—emp blaster for instance—but other than that it was a massive sitting duck. Because there is so little strategy in Convoy, there are no tactics other than pure attrition. All you can do is coordinate fire and hope that their health bar runs out before yours.
You can take what I’m saying with a grain of salt because I only used the starting MCV, but unlike FTL where each ship had wildly different playstyle, I can’t imagine Convoy has much variation between war rigs. I found probably 10 different escort vehicles throughout the game, and they all functioned basically the same; just a car with various turrets and attachments. Success in Convoy seems to rely much more on luck of the draw than strategy. Then again, I am a massive dumb dumb and might just be tactically inept.
Overall, Convoy is not a terrible game. Despite its inadequacies, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time. I mean it’s a Mad Max strategy game, how fucking cool is that. Even the strategy in Mad Max boiled down to shoot gun and ram car, so in a way, Convoy stayed faithful to the inspirational material. In my opinion this is a game that should be bought on Steam. PS4 controls are awkward, and on PC you have access to whatever mods people are working on. If it goes on sale and you’re a fan of FTL, I say try it out. Who knows, maybe you’re just a better road warrior than I am.
Conceptually awesome, the gameplay gets a little repetitive. Definitely keeping an eye out for a sequel or overhaul mods. Recommend you play with a mouse and keyboard rather than on console.