If I'm going to die, I'm going to die historic, many times over.
Like a common meme on Twitter, it’s easy to become numb to the word “roguelite” in the description of a game on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Hundreds of variations on the genre are available, so standing out from the crowd is basically required. One way to get the attention of a Nintendo console owner is to use retro 8-bit style graphics; another is to base the gameplay on a Mad Max movie. Convoy does both reasonably well, and although it may not be as exciting as Fury Road, it’s still a decent addition to the roguelite cavalcade.
The premise of Convoy is that the spaceship you’re currently travelling on has flown into the path of a solar flare and needs to make emergency repairs on the nearby planet of Omek Prime. Unfortunately for the crew, they don’t have the necessary parts to make the repairs and are forced to explore the planet in the hopes of finding suitable replacements. Thankfully, Omek Prime is a post-apocalyptic hellscape with parts littered across its landscape, just waiting to be scavenged. Somehow, the captain has some inside knowledge on the location of the parts and with the assistance of a map, sets you off in search of the parts needed to escape the planet.
This kicks off the first phase of gameplay: exploring an overworld from a bird’s-eye view of the map. Points of interest are labelled with a yellow marker, and the general direction and distance to each of the four mechanical parts is provided. Once an area has been reached, a text-based exchange explains the situation and provides options for responses with consequences based on those answers. The text exchange feels much like a choose-your-own adventure novel with some humorous scenarios to work through.
The speed at which you travel is dependent upon the terrain, roads are the quickest way to travel but sometimes it can be worth scaling up a steep hill a little slowly for a more direct route. Strategic exploration is required as three competing factions are all vying for control of Omek Prime and are a constant nuisance. Traversing into their territories is a required risk, and often you’ll find yourself in the middle of their conflicts.
When it does come time to defend yourself, the battles take place Fury Road style. Souped up cars with weapons attached go head-to-head as you attempt to defend your convoy from enemies looking for new scrap to pillage. The main vehicle with the supplies remains in the center of the screen while the smaller cars and enemies jostle back and forth in an attempt to either blow each other away or push an enemy into an obstacle. Control of the cars is swapped with the L and R buttons and positioning of allies or the targeting of opponents is selected by moving the cursor with the left stick. The use of the stick as a replacement for a mouse isn’t as cumbersome as it could be thanks to a grid system that makes it quick to move around the screen. However, it's still not a great implementation as controls feel loose and responses seem delayed. The lack of touch screen controls is unfortunate since the gameplay of Convoy seems perfectly suited to take advantage of the Switch touch screen.
Lack of touch controls aside, Convoy is still a title that feels at home on the Switch. The retro era style of graphics and gameplay that’s best enjoyed in short bursts is a good fit for the mobile platform. It may not be as exciting as a flamethrowing guitarist chasing down folks escaping from a post-apocalyptic dictator, but it's still a refreshing take on a genre looking for a new lease on life.