I’ll confess, I’m not great at roguelikes. But roguelites? I’m also not really good. Does it matter though? Not really. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours in roguelikes and roguelites like Hades, Dead Cells, FTL, Hoplite, Convoy, FTL, Into the Breach, Plague Inc and Loop Hero (did I mention FTL?)… and I’ve had so much fun!
When I learned about Quinterra, I was instantly interested. I did have some hesitation since I always start with a pinch (actually, a whole bucket) of “Am I smart enough for this? How long will it take for me to learn?” but I went on and tried… and I’m glad I did.
Speaking of, a disclaimer before I go on: I should note that I received a free review copy of the game. That’s also the end of it: I simply received a copy to write a review. There is no payment, no “encouragement” to write a positive review etc. Following are my genuine opinions.
Now, without further ado, let’s talk about the game!
Quinterra is a roguelite developed by Sidereal Studios, Tennessee-based indie developers. What’s a roguelite? It’s a game that’s like a roguelike. A roguelike-like. What this means for Quinterra is a procedurally generated world where you get random resources to utilize in turn-based tactical combat and risk permadeath.
Each “run” in Quinterra is an expedition. The world is broken down into parts, each of which includes a few locations to visit. Some of these locations place you in combat, others reward you with items or allow you to purchase them. Permadeath in the game comes in the shape of Morale. It’s not terribly punishing if you apply the right tactics and get enough wins but a couple of losses can easily end up in game over. Luckily, there are ports where you can get some of that morale up.
In combat, you find yourself in a hex-based map from the top. You gain resources each turn to summon Elites, Minions and Structures — which of course have different abilities. There are a few combat modes, such as defeating an enemy or holding ground on different sides of the map.
So the premise is simple, but the game has a lot of variety. You can have a deck of 10 Elites, 2 Minions and 2 Structures and I believe your starter deck is defined by your faction. On top of their differences, you also acquire items that you can attach to your elites and minions that provide passive benefits and crystals that you might attach during combat if you play your cards right (pun intended.) Last but not least, you learn talents that provide additional passive bonuses or items.
Let me provide some numbers to do more justice to devs and create realistic expectations. Apparently, there are over 100 playable units, over 400 unique abilities, over 200 obtainable items and 15 talents. Devs have confirmed that the talent system will have differences between races as well, this system is currently WIP. Overall, I assume each system will likely have more options as the game reaches the final release stage. I haven’t done the math but if we also consider maps to be procedurally generated, there are enough combinations to allow unique playthroughs each time.
Despite the number of options, Quinterra is not a scary game; at least once you understand the mechanics. Don’t get me wrong — you DO have to strategize. If you just throw minions and abilities at the enemy without reading them, you are going to fail miserably! It’s just not one of the games that make you think “I either need a cookie-cutter build or fail”, you can find solutions with the resources you have. This emergent strategy discovery is quite fun and addictive!
For me, a battle starts by checking the objective type, checking the layout and coming up with a strategy (which I probably arranged by my purchases) and counter the enemy as needed. This isn’t as simple as throwing cards— In addition to the traditional methods of attack/counter (ie choosing spell damage for enemies vulnerable, protecting your weak units with tanks etc) you also need to pay attention to layout for tactics and element types, anticipate enemy summons (since either side can summon anywhere). Even the action of harvesting mana is tactical: Since the hex you get mana from is destroyed, you can use it to isolate enemies or your own buildings for defensive purposes.
There is also potential for even more complicated tactics. There are many cards that can be used to trigger the abilities of each other. You can give your minion an ability where it damages its killer and use it for a suicide attack. This could then trigger a passive from a friendly unit and empower it. You can place units in a way that the enemy needs to summon in particular spots and just around those spots you have units that gain health from nearby summons. These are just a few examples from the top of my head!
The game does not offer detailed graphics and the UI is quite generic at times but overall I found Quinterra very pleasant to the eye with its vibrant colours and pleasant to the ear with music that I found overall relaxing (of course combat gets more intense). The game doesn’t try too hard on these aspects with 3D models and effects etc and focuses on the gameplay. Considering this is an indie company, I think they set their priorities right.
The worst part of the game right now is probably the Tutorial. The game basically dumps a lot of text without enough action and you end up staring at the screen trying to make sense of things. I actually played the tutorial, then started playing the game, then went back to the tutorial to fully understand everything (and still have a couple of small questions). Fortunately, the devs confirmed that the tutorial was going to go through major changes.
Another part that wasn’t a problem for me is the difficulty: As I mentioned, I’m not the best in deck-builders and roguelikes and while I very much enjoyed finding ways to beat things and how naturally I found myself doing it well… I also did it well most of the time. This sounds to me like more hardcore players might find it too easy. Currently, the game offers no difficulties which is unfortunate — I think the devs should consider it for multiple layers of players are to enjoy Quinterra to the fullest.
That covers my review of the game. As mentioned, I did receive a reviewer key but seeing how I’m over 10 hours in a few days, I’m definitely going to buy the game. I like Roguelites and I expect to sink many hours trying all the combinations in the cute, gorgeous colours of Quinterra. Even if you have a strict early access policy, if you like roguelikes/lites I strongly suggest that you at least take a look and wishlist if you are interested.