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iPad  header logo

Qvadriga


For: iPad   Also on: Android, Steam

Svperb amvsement

Product: Qvadriga | Publisher: Slitherine Software | Format: iPad | Genre: Racing, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Qvadriga iPad, thumbnail 1
The interface and the graphics of Qvadriga are that primitive that to begin with you might be worried you've accidentally installed a scam app.

Instead of a tutorial you're expected to wade through several pages of instructions. Instructions! Someone call Slitherine and tell it it's 2014, not 214.

After about two pages of semi-gibberish you'll give up, frustrated, and stab the "race" button in the vain hope you'll be able to just muddle along.

You won't. You'll almost certainly die a horrible, low-resolution death at the very first bend.

It doesn't matter though. You've already seen enough. Even in the short time between start-line and gory death you'll have realised there's a great game lurking beneath that archaic exterior.

Qvality

Qvadriga puts you in the open-toed sandals of a Roman chariot driver. You're racing a team of four sturdy horses and one alarmingly flimsy chariot around a dusty oval at terrifying speed.

You can play the game one of two ways. There's a traditional turn-based mode, and then there's a "dynamic" mode that sees you issuing orders in advance while the chariots keep rolling.

Both have their charms, but the core mechanics are the same in either case.

As you rumble off the starting line you'll be accelerating or whipping the horses. Soon though you'll be able to execute other manoeuvres like switching lanes, whipping other drivers, and attempting to bash their chariots off the course.

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It's a heady mix of strategy, skill, and suspense. You have to rigorously control your speed and track position to avoid rolling your chariot on the bends. Split-second timing is required to push in front of rivals jockeying to overtake, and to lash or bash them as they pass.

You'll forget about those primitive graphics in the primal thrill of the race. Good sound effects push you through the game and into the arena, as the whips crack, the crowd roars, and the horses scream.

After the first bend chariots start to crash, littering the track with bodies and debris that you'll have to navigate on your next pass.

Never has there been such a humbling lesson in how a convincing theme can be conjured from gameplay alone, without the need for expensive visuals.

Endvring

It takes a while to learn how to navigate your way round the track safely, and a little longer to get good enough to win a race. What then? Then it's time to tackle Qvadriga's campaign mode, where the real meat of the game lies.

This sees you managing a team with several charioteers, and controlling each one when they race.

Between arena appearances you can use your accumulated denarii to upgrade your chariots and horses, and recruit new team members.

You need to juggle earning skill and experience with making sure your team gets enough rest and recuperation between races.

There's a lot more to this than meets the eye. Your eventual goal is to win races in the Circus Maximus, the most glorious venue in all the ancient world.

But to get there you'll need to tour the Empire, finding, entering, and winning the more prestigious races. And all the while doing your best to literally cripple rivals with some judicious state-sanctioned violence.

It's a rich, detailed strategy counterpart to the thrilling tactics of the actual races.

Qvadriga is a compelling mix of novel ideas. It crams together racing and strategy, and manages to evoke the Roman era with mechanics rather than graphics.

And it all adds together to create something that's much greater than the sum of its parts.

If you can get past the Imperial price tag and the crumbling ancient ruin of the presentation, you'll find real gladiatorial fire burning in the pits beneath.
 
Qvadriga
Reviewer photo
Matt Thrower | 18 June 2014
A painfully archaic veneer hides an exciting, unusual, and richly detailed game of timing and strategy
 
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