Developer: Sidereal Studio
Release date: April 7th, 2021
Price: $14.99 via digital download, $12.74 launch discount price
Expected Full Release: 2022
The best Early Access titles feel virtually complete. Built on seemly solid foundations, these games might need just a bit of additional substance before making the leap toward a final retail build. Then, there’s a second tier of game which offer fleeting glimpses of achievement. There’s just not enough completed development to ensure successful results. Quinterra is undoubtedly one of the latter Early Access releases.
After completion of the 1.92GB download, Quinterra currently provides players with two options: a tutorial and campaign. Select the former and you’ll likely question your comprehension skills. But it’s not, it’s developer Sidereal Studio who should shoulder the blame. Much of the problem is that the instructions don’t provide much context. You’ll learn how to summon Minions and Elites before knowing what the purpose of each unit is. Other traits, like why the hexagonal tile beneath a drafted Elite disappears but may appear later.
There are probably metaphorical elements that might explain the motives of Quinterra’s mechanics, but they’re not articulated yet. While the game bills itself as a “roguelike turn-based tactics game”, the descriptor must have already been too long to add another quality: card-based. Yes, those Elites you’re summoning are all represented with visuals that look like collectible cards, complete with health, offensive and defensive stats. If you’ve even dabbled with deck-builders like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, or the Pokémon Trading Card Game you’ll be familiar with how combat plays out or how units can be augmented.
Despite the lack of explanations across the tutorial, you’ll eventually want to delve into the game’s campaign. Many of Quinterra’s mechanics will feel familiar but you won’t find the kind of connective tissue that makes for a cohesive experience. Elemental traits limit which hexes can be used for summoning, but there’s little explanation why. At least the win conditions are clear, which players attempting to cultivate an army before fighting a boss.
The game’s overworld map sends players between nodes. Across some of these, you’ll collect crystal resources. These provide either active or passive traits, with the emerald colored Diopside increasing the attack power of a unit while spiky Danburite rewards players with health every time an enemy is adjacently summoned. Other node points are guilds and ports when you can recruit new members.
But before gaining new resources, you’ll often have to confront enemies first. Quinterra has a few types of mission that revolve outmaneuvering an opponent. Occasionally that means securing more hexes on the battlefield, other times you’ll be forced to defeat a specific number of opponents. Despite the requirements for different outcomes, moment-to-moment play feels similar. And given that much of Quinterra is randomized, there’s little expositional motivation for your field battles.
Currently, there are some balancing issues as well. While the game is attempting to establish a rising level of difficulty across campaigns, sporadically you’re face practically unbeatable situations which reduces much of the goodwill Quinterra has marshalled. Facing off against an opponent who can one-hit any summoned unit and repeatedly heals itself is not going to spark joy in most players.
Yet underneath it all are signs of a game that could mature into something worthwhile. The art, even in an Early Access state is impressive, with the playable Lycan faction showing some attractive illustrations of wolf-warriors. Building an army is enjoyable, and with some balance injected into the game, could produce gratification. Once the developers add some narrative, missions might not feel so homogenous. As it stands, Quinterra shows a bit of potential for fans of turn-based strategy, but I’d advise waiting until Sidereal Studio demonstrates tangible progress.