Turn-based strategy games always fill me with an incredible sense of empowerment. Commanding an entire army and bringing them to the front-lines is coupled with the fate of countless lives sitting on my shoulder, all while I display my military prowess. When done right, it can be one of the most engrossing experiences in gaming. Suffice it to say, I absolutely adore strategy games. Imagine my excitement when I was tasked to review Lonely Troop’s game, War on Folvos. From a first glance, this game seemed to have everything I love, such as turn-based gameplay, interesting story, and big set-piece battles. But, upon further inspection, War on Folvos shows itself as a rather generic turn-based strategy game.
Originally released in 2006, War on Folvos centers around the titular planet of Folvos. The citizens of the small planet are accustomed to living their lives in peace, until the Vasgalan Empire discovers an extraordinary raw material on the surface of Folvos. The Empire stakes its claim on the planet, essentially colonizing the small civilization in pursuit of the new resource. The citizens of Folvos are outraged, and force a resistance group to fight off the Vasgalan Empire. With Folvos’ freedom at stake, the player must pick a side and lead his or her army to victory over the barren landscape.
Interestingly, War on Folvos offers two campaigns, allowing players to play through the perspective of the Vasgalan Empire or the Folvos resistance group. It affords the narrative the ability explore some interesting themes not normally seen in video games, including perspectives in conflict and colonialism. The potential for thematic exploration is made all the more sad when the narrative falls flat. War of Folvos’ story is lighthearted and safe. It never strays into the moral ambiguity of the situation and seems to serve solely as a backdrop to the action.
The lack of a substantial story in War on Folvos could be forgiven if the gameplay shined. Unfortunately, War on Folvos is a pretty generic take on the turn-based strategy genre. Players are tasked with standard objectives: attack this point, defend this point, protect this convey, etc.. There was nothing really unique about the mission structure. To make matters worse, instead of building your armies from scratch, like in Civilization, War on Folvos players are given a set number of troops from the start of each level, with reinforcements added at certain points. This is not inherently a bad thing, as it forces players to use each unit at their disposal in an effective manner. But, once you learn which troop beats which, the game loses almost all sense of challenge. An entire other layer of strategy could have been added if players were allowed to either build their own troops or choose their troops at the beginning of the level.
The majority of my gripes with this game were minor, the first being with its graphics. War on Folvos originally released in 2006, and it shows. I’m not normally one to complain about graphics, but there were times when I could not see my troops because of how they blended into the environment. While playing the first level, for example, I completely missed one of my units because of how it meshed with my army base. This problem was further exacerbated by my second gripe with this game. Instead of selecting the hex, players need to select the troop’s avatar, and this sometimes makes selecting units a more frustrating experience than it need be. The selection difficulties, coupled with the poor graphical design, seems like a lazy user interface.
Although it might seem the opposite, I do not dislike War on Folvos. The game has a lot of potential, it just doesn’t fully live up to what it could be. The premise is interesting, the split campaigns affords the narrative potential to become something special, and the wartime turn-based strategy can fully engross the player in the conflict on Folvos. If you are a newcomer to the turn-based strategy genre, War on Folvos is not a bad place to start. The game is intuitive and accessible. But, if you are a veteran of the genre looking for something new, challenging, and substantial, this is a game you might want to avoid.