Classic western RPGs have made a triumphant comeback this decade. Beamdog helped kickstart it with its remasters of Infinity Engine classics like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment, while the ever-reliable Obsidian Entertainment went back to its roots with Pillars of Eternity. We also got new entries in classic franchises like Larian Studios with Divinity: Original Sin (Larian is also working on Baldur’s Gate 3) and inXile Entertainment with Wasteland 2.
Given the wealth of new classics on offer, it’s been all-too easy to neglect Spiderweb Software, a prolific developer of CRPGs since before the genre earned the C. Since 1995, the indie developer has almost released a CRPG every year, including the Exile, Avernum, Geneforge, Avadon, and Nethergate franchises. Most of these were released on PC, but mobile has been graced with the Avernum trilogy, the Avadon saga, and, as of this week, Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror.
Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror is the first in a planned new series of releases for Spiderweb Software. It doesn’t stray far from the Spiderweb template in many different areas, including the visual style, grid and turn-based combat, and an almost intense amount of reading required, which does a terrific job of activating your imagination, filling in the blanks in the rich tapestry of the unique game world and its characters.
However, the entire gameplay structure is a complete departure for Spiderweb. You play as the child of the eponymous queen, who’s lived a life of sheltered luxury due to being the thirdborn. The queen decides it’s time for you to earn your place though, so sends you off to the colony of Sacramentum, which has fallen to neglect and rebellion. Your role as ambassador is to reclaim the colony through diplomacy or force for Haven and the queen, or for your own gains.
Queens Wish: The Conqueror is a Departure for Spiderweb
Sacramentum is made up of three different kingdoms, which you’ll bring back into Haven rule (or not) one at a time. There’s a central hub, which serves as your home fortress. Here you can build a blacksmith, alchemist, weaver, and other useful buildings that can provide you with the equipment you’ll need on your adventure. You’ll have to explore the surrounding world and reclaim mines, farms, and more to earn the resources to build everything you need though.
You can also recruit party members while at your home base and spend any skill points you’ve earned from levelling up. We particularly appreciate that you can re-spend any earned skill points at any point, allowing you to change your build on the fly. You don’t even have to commit to a particular class, as that’s only determined by where you place your points. You can create a hybrid or commit to a certain archetype.
You can further customise your party with equipment you gather as you explore the world. There’s armour, weapons, and accessories and you can augment all of them further by placing runes on them. Just like with skill points, you can change your runes at any moment. It’s a highly customisable system that allows you to change up everything on the fly, and we really appreciate it coming from RPGs that arbitrarily force you to commit to a certain path even though you’re still learning.
If we have any complaints regarding the party system, it’s that your supporting cast don’t have any personalities of their own. You can’t communicate with them or learn their backstory. They’re just there to help you fight. It’s a shame but it’s easy to see why Spiderweb has ignored that side of the experience in favour of producing an insane amount of content elsewhere.
Our Only Complaint is Your Party’s Lack of Personality
Your adventure will take you across the entire continent of Sacramentum, which is made up of four separate kingdoms. There’s Haven, which is where your base camp is located, the Ukat, who dwell in the swamp, Ahriel, which is made up of forests and grasslands, and The Vol, which is all scorching deserts. Each kingdom is made up of fortresses, mines, farms, and cities to claim for your own, as well as its own group of citizens to please or force to submit to the cause.
There’s a real sense of adventure in Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror. The actual in-game map isn’t huge but it’s so densely populated that you won’t notice. There are loads of quests to complete, people to meet, and resources to gather. You’ll also get a real sense of accomplishment from conquering the various different locations, and you’ll witness it whenever you glance at the map and see loads of locations to fast travel to. You unlock fast travel whenever you visit a location for the first time.
Then there are the number of different options in terms of how you conquer. You can be diplomatic and talk to your people, learning their problems and dealing with them to gain trust. Or, you can simply force them to submit using force. You won’t be popular using this method, and you will need to ensure you have the resources necessary to win, but having the options is welcome.
What you do with your power is also your choice. You can win it back for the queen or rebel and claim the power for your own. It’s your choice, though you’ll have to deal with the consequences of your actions.
Overall, We’re Thoroughly Impressed
Overall, we’re thoroughly impressed with Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror. Spiderweb has clearly poured a lot of love into the project and it’s heartening to see such a genuine effort to innovate 25 years into the developer’s career. If there are any shortcomings, it’s more due to a lack of budget than ambition. We’d love to recruit party members with more personality next time but that’s our sole complaint. If you’re a fan of CRPGs, pick this up right away.