PC | Confrontation Review
Carolyn uses her wits to overcome her enemies in this video review for Confrontation.
A band of foes emerges from the shadows. Taking stock of the situation, you realize you’d quickly be overpowered in a head-on clash. So you freeze the action, giving yourself a moment to think. You order Darius to charge an enemy, catching him unawares and drawing his attention, while Fera goes stealth and sneaks in for a devastating attack her target never sees coming. With Zelia using her spells to immobilize enemies and Lanwys healing the party, you gain the upper hand and thwart your opponents, for now.
There are moments of excitement in Confrontation. But they’re the exception to the rule, as you lead a ragtag band of heroes along narrow desert pathways, down confined laboratory hallways, and through other restrictive environments, on quests so dryly explained that it’s hard to muster up the energy to care about who these people are and what they’re fighting for. As its title suggests, it’s the conflicts that matter in this game. But although these battles offer moments of strategic satisfaction, tedious pacing, poor pathfinding, and dull exploration sap the adventurous spirit from your journey.
After a brief tutorial, you’re placed in control of a party of four companions. There’s Darius, the resilient warrior; Zelia, the magic user whose spells can stun and control enemies; and Lanwys and Lothaire, whose skills can heal, empower, and otherwise support the team. Though your early encounters tend to be quite easy, you soon need to make smart use of each character’s techniques if you hope to survive. As you advance, your group grows in number, and you can choose which four characters to take with you into battle. This is a strategic decision in itself. For instance, you might opt to take Fera, the stealthy swordswoman whose abilities can do tremendous damage. But her health is limited, so you want to make sure she’s accompanied by someone who can provoke enemies and absorb their assaults.
Groups of enemies are typically more than capable of wiping out your party, and only by prioritizing the most dangerous foes and using buffs, crowd control abilities, and other techniques, can you emerge from these battles victorious. You can pause the action at any time during each encounter to size up the situation and issue orders to your party, so although the action proceeds in real time, battles still typically have a thoughtful, deliberate pace. Making smart use of tactics and abilities to overcome the odds is satisfying, for a while.
Alas, though this foundation of strategic combat is solid, the game it supports is riddled with problems. In the midst of battle, you’re often told that characters can’t reach their targets even when pathways are available, forcing you to micromanage their movements. The goofy sight of characters running up against walls or other characters quickly becomes exasperating, and makes it hard to take these brutal battles seriously.
The voice acting contributes to a sense of silliness; the cast members try so hard to sound gruff or arch or sly as they respond to your commands that you can practically hear them straining their acting muscles. And sometimes, while you’re fighting with one group of enemies, another group you had no way of knowing was there emerges from the fog of war, turning a fight in which you might be able to scrape by into a truly hopeless struggle. Being forced to scrap the last few minutes of play and try a different approach not because of tactical errors but because of unpleasant surprises the game had in store for you is frustrating, and it happens on multiple occasions.
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