Released in 2019, Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror was developed and published by Jeff Vogel, the one man wonder behind Spiderweb Software. This is a brand new franchise for Spiderweb, a whole new world, story-line, and a modified engine from the Avadon games.
The same strengths that were mentioned in the Geneforge Saga review are present here, as are the same weaknesses. However, some changes have been made and mechanics added, both for good and ill. It seems to be an extension of what was done to simplify the Avadon games.
Lets start at the beginning though. Queen’s Wish is a turn based tactical combat game, an isometric RPG with pseudo-base building mechanics. The main draw is the story, the world, and your choices within both. This is a game where your choices do matter, and the dialogue choices you pick at the very start can have an impact at the very end.
You are the third child of Queen Sharyn The Third of Haven. Haven is a vast empire that controls most of the known world, but not always through force. What Haven does is it solves political problems, uses economic pressure, worms it’s way into governments, and pits foreign powers against each other in order to take control of different lands.
Haven is a small power in terms of actual territory, but through the vassals it controls is has become a massive power. So far none have been able to stand before the might of Haven, except for the lands of Sacrementum. That is where you, the player, comes in.
Sacrementum was once under Haven’s control, and the nations there turned into vassals, but a great Calamity took place. Haven was forced out as crops failed, mines collapsed, diseases spread, and the vassals turned hostile. You, as the third child of the royal family with nothing to do, have been put in charge of reclaiming Sacrementum.
You will conquer the Ukatish, the Ahriel, and the Vol. You will rebuild the lost forts and colonies, and bring even more prosperity and power to Haven. You will succeed where your mother failed in making the nations of Sacrementum permanent vassals.
How you go about doing that however, is the main draw of the game.
You have a multitude of ways to complete your goal. Some are easy, like re-opening diplomacy with the existing rulers and fixing their problems. There are also harder ways, like supporting political underdogs and rebels.
Speaking of rebels, you can even rebel against the powers that be, your family that sent you to do this dirty job, and forge something new. You don’t need to do their bidding. There are also forces and powers out there beyond your comprehension, working against you. There is all of this and more.
And all of it will require a lot of killing.
The combat in Queen’s Wish is quite good. Unfortunately, the mechanics have been streamlined and even somewhat dumbed down. In older Spiderweb games, all of the characters in your party would have their own classes, their own levels, stats, spells, abilities, etc.
Queen’s Wish removes classes, and removes stat points. Spells and abilities are combined. When your party as a whole levels up, each character gets 1 point to put into either the Combat, Support, or Magic trees. Calling them trees is being generous, they are lists.
You will get a total of 20 points over the game. As you level up your characters will gain health, mana, strength, agility, etc, all on their own. The points are to be spent on these new ability lists, with each ability able to be upgraded twice. The second upgrade can give new and powerful effects… or just give an extra 10% to hit, damage, or duration.
There are no mages, no archers, no fighters. What makes one character different from another is the armor they wear, and the gear they use.
These abilities, especially in the Support and Magic categories, can drastically change combat. While all of this is very easy to understand and then implement in combat, it is rather lacking. There is a lot of combat, so if you don’t enjoy this simplified system, you may not like the game.
In previous games from the developer, such as Geneforge, there were 29 spells (battle, mental, and blessing); and this doesn’t include the healing spells. In Avernum, the number of spells reaches 40. In Queens Wish (if you want to call them spells) you only get 18.
This change in choice based character creation, and the removal of a fleshed out spell system, takes a lot away from the game. However, with how streamlined it is, it can make combat quick and efficient, allowing you to get back to the story, world, and characters much faster. So, there is a sort of give and take here.
One of the main improvements for this game is a vastly superior graphics system. Older Spiderweb games are hard to look at, and almost impossible to play, but with Queen’s Wish being released in 2019, it looks really, really good.
Obviously, for some people even these graphical improvements will not be enough. Spiderweb games have always been a bit rough looking, relying on the top down, isometric viewpoint to help mitigate the visual limitations. But there is so much more to Spiderweb games than how they look.
New to Queen’s Wish and Spiderweb games is a sort of base building mechanic, implemented for the first time. As you go through the continent of Sacrementum and the lands of the different nations there, you will reclaim lost forts and colonies.
In these forts you can build several different kinds of buildings. Blacksmiths, carpenters, weavers, apothecaries, and more will provide you with weapons, armour, shields, potions, and all of the combat equipment you will need.
Barracks, watchtowers, and improved walls will decrease theft of the resources you need to build all of these buildings, and increase the attack and defense of your party. Mills, bakeries, and distilleries will give you a passive income every two days, allowing you to buy and bribe your way across the continent.
The more forts you reclaim, the more buildings you can build. These buildings stack, so the more blacksmiths you build, the better weapons and armor you can buy. The more apothecaries you have, the better potions and runes/augments (for upgrading weapons and armor) you can get.
Weavers are for cloth clothing for mages (and increasing your inventory size), and carpenters make shields, bows, and mage weapons.
Money making buildings and damage/defense improving buildings also stack. The only limitations you have are how many forts you can get in total, and the fact that each building has a resource upkeep.
The more allies you make, the more areas you clear of monsters and enemies, the more resources they provide you. This is a well crated game-play loop that keeps you going back for more. It is a very interesting system that helps to bulk up and add to the game what the character and combat streamlines took out.
There are some other, smaller gripes with the game however, and I will list them here.
The map of the world is much smaller, and far less believable. While the world is still fun and interesting to explore, the idea that each of these nations only has three major cities is just silly. Compared to the maps from other games, it looks lazy.
Items and the inventory have also been streamlined and simplified. Instead of finding items in chests, containers, on the ground, and sometimes hidden away, you can now exclusively only find them in chests. Chests that have a white sparkle above them, so you won’t ever miss them.
Arrows are a bit slow to fire, and with the new animations there are pauses when enemies are hit, and when you attack. This slows down the streamlined combat, making it take more time.
Enemies no longer drop experience when you kill them, you only get experience from completing quests. There are groups of enemies on the over-world map that now have no purpose, as they don’t give experience when killed, drop items, or guard anything of importance.
This means that they just take up your time and resources while exploring, forcing you to keep going back to your forts to heal and resupply.
In order to clear an area/dungeon you need to defeat the boss at the end. If you can’t complete it all in one go you need to do it all over again. This could be a massive problem, but returning to forts refills your potions, health, and mana. While this does make a bad situation better, it also wastes a huge amount of time.
The same weaknesses as other Spiderweb games are here. The music, the sound effects, they aren’t really focused on. There are some original tracks and sounds, but most are borrowed from his older games, which borrow from other games and online sources.
While this lack of music and original sound effects is a detriment, it doesn’t really take too much away from the game. It plays rather well with your own music choices in the background.
The story ends off on a cliffhanger, with many smaller cliffhangers added in depending on the choices you made. Despite the gripes I had, and the streamlined combat I would recommend it, and I am actually looking forward to the next game. I got over 40 hours of game-play out of Queen’s Wish: The Conquerer, and I haven’t yet replayed it. However, unlike other Spiderweb Software games, I won’t be replaying this one; and that used to be one of their biggest strong points.
Queens Wish: The Conqueror
Queens Wish: The Conqueror is a subpar game entry into the, thus far, stellar collection of games from Spiderweb Software.
- Improved graphics and UI to make the game easy to play compared to older titles.
- A wonderful new world to explore, both in-game and on the overworld map.
- Great character and setting writing, as per usual from Spiderweb.
- An interesting and compelling gameplay loop surrounding resources and fort building.
- About 40 hours of gameplay if you enjoy the game and play it all the way through, doing all the side-quests.
- New models and animations help the game look better and come alive.
- The game has been simplified and streamlined even more than previous titles. To a dangerous extent.
- Character classes, skills, and most spells have been removed from the game.
- Enemies no longer give XP, and dungeons need to be completed in a single run. If you play on harder difficulties, you will be replaying some places a lot.
- Enemies on the overworld map are now pointless timesinks that consume resources and stop exploration.
- Items are now found only in bright sparkly chests so that only the blind can possibly miss them.
- Despite streamlines in combat (the removal of classes, skills, and tons of spells), it goes slowly. It becomes tedious.
- Combat goes even slower due to the new animations. Wait to shoot/attack/cast, wait to see the enemy hit. Repeat.
- The 40 hours of gameplay is heavily extended and inflated by running back and forth to and from your forts, and trying dungeons over and over.
- Music and sound effects are sub-par and still aren't focused on despite all of these years making games.
- No need to replay the game, as you can save and take different sides right at the very end.
A lackluster addition to the Spiderweb Software game library, only about 5/10.