Numantia (Playstation 4 Review)
Numantia, Reco Technology’s latest release, is a historically accurate turn based strategy game set during the Celtiberian War. It tries its best to make learning fun while teasing those who are roped into games where the slightest mistake can cost you your life.
It has been a while since I last touched an RTS, but the rust quickly shifted thanks Numantia’s tutorial. It’s short and informative, but can hold your hand a little too tight. That being said, by the end of the tutorial I had an exceptionally strong grasp of the mechanics.
Each battle in Numantia gives you access to a small army composed of ranged, melee, mounted, and war machine units as well as some champions. Champions have similar base archetypes as the units with additional abilities and unique skills. Aside from their distinct design, each unit is also explained in further depth through the action wheel making it easy to identify each unit. It’s simple to understand and exceptionally easy to pick up in the first few battles after the tutorial.
All of these battles take place on battlefields composed of hexagonal tiles. Movement, attack distance, and occupied tiles are all represented by different colours that stand out from the scenery.
My initial concerns that the hexagonal grid might become complex and frustrating were quickly cast aside. After mastering the first few battles and involving myself in the narrative choices I found it hard to put my controller down.
In spite of the initial ease of access and how Numantia conveyed its battles, there were a few moments where newly introduced units didn’t quite display their abilities. In some cases I would think up a crafty strategy just to have it foiled by a far superior unit. The Roman’s clearly had an upper hand. It depicts the historical struggles of the Numantians extremely well, but there was such a steep climb in difficulty that I felt the need to switch campaigns for an easier time.
This switch only alleviated my plight temporarily. It wasn’t long until I encountered a mission within the Roman campaign that was also insurmountable. Both campaigns were ultimately felt imbalanced and that I didn’t really have control over the upgrades of my units. I often felt that the upgrade system lacked any real depth. So, when I wasn’t in battle, my time spent in each campaign’s respective home settlement was mostly focussed on diplomatic missions and scavenging whatever money I could to buy new gear from the local markets.
The impact of your decisions aren’t just a factor in diplomatic missions, Numantia also allows you to influence the story through different decisions. It’s an interesting decision that helps flesh out the story by integrating with the moral stat. What this stat influenced was not quite as clear cut as the decisions presented. Did it affect my troops or the outcome of a battle? Who knows. Personally, my choices always felt like they ended in misery, lowering moral for my Numantian troops, whereas most of the choices I made as a roman were largely positive, but it was pure guesswork that influenced these decisions. That’s not to say that I didn’t find these decisions interesting or disengaging, in fact it’s an aspect I am really excited to return to in Numantia while I wrestle with the difficulty spikes. I want to see how my choices influence the story and to what extent I can influence the ending.
While Numantia has an easy to pick up battle system, the campaign certainly demands that you master it. Even for somebody fairly out of touch with the genre, there was never a moment where I was unsure what to do (even if it didn’t end up as well as I had hoped). I did, however, struggle with long term investment in the campaign. Without a clear progression system for my troops, I often felt that I was at a disadvantage that resulted in numerous career ending game over screens. Maybe those well versed in RTS games will kick the Romans aside in their stride, but I personally struggled more than I would have liked to. Thankfully Numantia has a lot more to offer that just a difficulty spike. Its historical accuracy and decision system were more than enough to keep me coming back time and time again.
Editor’s Note: A big thanks to a good friend of the site, Charlie, for contributing his review of Numantia to the site. If you wish to know more about his thoughts on Numanita then tweet us @ReadersGambit.