Numantia Review

By Kelly Packard, 26 days ago
Numantia is developer RECO Technology's historical, turn-based strategy game that takes place as the Romans swept through the Iberian Peninsula in 154 BC. From the press releases, videos and behind-the-scenes content RECO revealed leading up to the release, it's clear the development team is passionate about Numantia and its setting. Unfortunately, a game needs more than high hopes and grandiose dreams to succeed, and while the game has a lot of promise, it's overshadowed by a lack of polish.


Players can start a campaign as one of two groups: the Romans or the Numantians. The groups are warring factions in the conflict, and both sides of the story will be experienced. In a way, the gameplay of Numantia is as historic as the game's setting itself; turn-based strategy isn't exactly a genre brimming with new titles, especially if you're on console. Among sparring matches between the two armies that allude to a greater story line, a more detailed look is given at individual characters of the Numantia and Rome. Numantia asks players to make choices that will impact the army's economy, morale and relationships. The choices do have impacts on events as well as the battles that can be waged, which may differ or can be avoided altogether based on choices.

The turn-based combat is complex, challenging and does scratch that tactical itch. There are different aspects that play into how your turn will proceed. There are more obvious ones like which units you've selected and which units the enemy possesses, but also more advanced considerations like attacking from angles that are most devastating to a specific troop, equipping items, each unit's stamina bar, and choosing to attack or take a more defensive position. Losing non-hero units in battle will result in them being lost forever. You'll have to train new troops with your hard-earned resources to replace fallen units, which makes players look at the broader picture of their campaign instead of winning one battle.

Numantia's complexities also play a part in its downfall. Developers shouldn't have to explain everything to players, and there should always be wondrous little moments of "A-ha!" that occur when playing any quality game. However, RECO has done nothing to convey to players the more advanced tactics or even basic ones. Going into the menus and selecting "Help" only brings up a map of the controls, which are the least of your worries. Units are fairly straightforward, but a description of what their abilities do and the conditions under which they can be used would have been welcome.

I engaged in this fight solely to steal a Roman bannerI engaged in this fight solely to steal a Roman banner

Many abilities can only be used under specific circumstances, such as moving in a straight line, but this wasn't noted anywhere and brought on a lot of confusion. Some abilities remained a complete mystery until after much experimentation by chapter seven or eight. The turn and round systems were also not explained; sometimes your opponent will seem to get several turns in a row, and it's frustrating to see your enemy get so many chances to attack in a row without understanding why this happens.

Controlling the game itself isn't up to par, and in many ways Numantia feels like a PC port that wasn't optimized for consoles. Navigating the hexagonal grid with the controller's joysticks is imprecise and sometimes frustrating. The bumper and trigger buttons can be used to cycle through units on the battlefield and buildings back in the game's hub world, but the controls make one long for a mouse to select the object in question instead of cycling.

Even without the control issues, the game has an overall need for more polish. Visibility on some types of terrain is low, and you may be squinting at your TV or zooming in to be able to tell which way units are facing or what type of unit it is. If you get close to the edge of the map, a misty, white haze shows up to let you know the map ends there, but it's hard to see through this. The camera also struggles near the edges of the map. The menus and in-game controls feel sluggish and unresponsive; often you'll have to input button presses more than once for Numantia to act on your command.


There are also bugs that pop up, like units taking a long time to reposition after moving or the menus loading incorrectly and blurry. Nothing encountered was particularly game-breaking and all issues fixed themselves after a full restart of the game, but these hiccups aren't the type of thing players would expect to see in a fully released game. In the screenshots above, you can see the menu issue versus how the menu normally looks.

If you're looking to get all the achievements, there are 54 total. There are achievements for completing both the Roman and Numantian campaigns, including one playthrough on hard difficulty. There are achievements that can be earned for branching the story in different directions and selecting different options. Strategic saving and re-loading can help you avoid more playthroughs than necessary with these. There are also miscellaneous combat achievements that can be earned with each faction. No one has completed the game as of this writing.

Summary

Numantia's setting is unique, the story is interesting and allows you to make important choices, and the gameplay is challenging and strategic. However, this turn-based title is wrapped in an unpolished package that doesn't let the positive traits shine: frequent bugs and glitches are off-putting, inputting commands feels sluggish, the controls aren't well-suited for console, and there are lots of missed opportunities to guide and educate the player more. Despite the fact Numantia might not be the pinnacle of strategy games, if you're an Xbox player craving the genre, you might be willing to put up with the flaws.
2.5 / 5
Positives
  • Scratches that tactical itch
  • Interesting setting and branching story
  • Challenging and strategic
Negatives
  • Frequent bugs and blemishes
  • Controls aren't ideal for console
  • Lack of explanations or guidance
  • Feels unpolished and sluggish
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about 13 hours indulged in the conflict between Rome and Numantia, earning 16 achievements for 240 gamerscore. An Xbox One download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
In a few descriptors: college student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. I contribute to TrueAchievements as a news writer and reviewer. Usually, you can find me knee-deep in a multiplayer game while ignoring my growing backlog or on one forum or another discussing all things gaming.