Let's Take a Look: "Caravaneer" Review
As promised from my last article, I wanted to present (spoiler alert) a much more favorable game review. In this case, this is one of my favorite games of all time: Caravaneer. Haven’t hear of it? That is ok; please allow me to elucidate on the wonderful game of Caravaneer.
A Cursory Introduction
Caravaneer is a free-to-play (without any in-game purchases whatsoever!) Flash PC game. The game is a sandbox economy action game. The screen takes a top-down view of the gameplay, which remains consistent throughout all various in-game screens.
In the Not-Too-Distant Future
Caravaneer takes place in a post-apocalyptic future of our world; for all that it matters (as it does not directly affect gameplay), global warning, the melting of the polar ice caps, and global flooding cause severe ecological damage and thus the apocalypse (even though this could not happen in real-life).
The Guts of the Game
You play as a caravaneer, a traveling merchant who makes money by buying commodities (such as leather or cotton) and finished products (such as shoes, textiles or clothes) from one community and selling that for a profit in another; where said commodity has a greater demand for them and will pay more for them. But as with any supply-and-demand economic system, if you flood the market too much (which you can determine in each town) with a given commodity/product, then your returns begin to diminish. While in town, you are also going to want to stock up on supplies such as food, water, forage for animals, medicines, weapons and ammo. Oh right! This is a post-apocalyptic game and you have to defend yourself against bandits.
While traveling, you are most likely going to encounter enemy robbers interesting in killing you, your hired hands, and then looting your caravan of supplies. When your personal character is killed, it is game over (not the only way, but the most common). Combat can be fairly unforgiving: characters act in an order determined by the number of action points they can perform; the more they can do the earlier in initiative they act. The faster characters are going to be able to act before the enemies most of the time and will be able to kill many of them, depending on how well armed your characters. And as you progress in the game, your characters will gain experience and improve their statistics, including getting more actions.
A Crude Comparison
I often refer to Caravaneer as a post-apocalyptic Oregon Trail, but that is somewhat of a disservice to both games. For one, Oregon Trail is a game about an arduous journey, fraught with all manner of dangers from the age of American expansion. There is little exploration and your adventure is challenged by random events and encounters (dysentery being perhaps the most memorable). In Caravaneer, there are no random encounters to fear or to be rewarded by. And where both games have you managing a crew of characters and purchasing supplies for them, Caravaneer allows more growth for those characters and has you handle more individual aspects of your caravan. Not only are you purchasing various commodities and products for later sales, but you are arming your hired help and equipping them with body armor (when available). Each characters’ experience is dependent upon how long they have survived as well as how many enemies they have killed. You unfortunately do not have control any other control over their development; you do not choose what they learn or which traits to improve. Honestly though, not a complaint but something to bear in mind when playing.
But is it Boring?
In addition to the combat and the economic gameplay, there is an interesting story; one in which you do determine its course. The campaign story can be broken down into three main paths: sell-out for the corrupt government, hero of the people, and roaming bandit. Without spoiling the individual elements, each of the stories have their advantages as well as their own endings (sort of). Playing as the hero for the people is the almost default storyline. You undergo the most missions and you explore nearly every city as you attempt to bring hope to the masses. You also get to have some rather unique battles during the campaign. When you side with the government, your story is a great deal shorter than when you work against them. Finally, you can always say, “screw it” and just be a bandit. The great advantage here is that you can attack anybody that you want; looting other caravans, the Desert Patrol (the good guys) or even government police units. However, there is no actual end to that story; perhaps the one big missed opportunity from the developers.
Can it Make Julienne Fries?
So with sandbox elements, an engaging economic system, and an interesting storyline (with multiple endings), do I recommend this game? Absolutely! It is by far, one of my favorite games of all time. Is it perfect? Far from it. It has several bugs and a few glitches. The scariest one is that I was unable to progress in my game due to interface limitations playing it strictly online. I ultimately had to download the game several years ago in order to complete the campaign. There is also a glitch where you can sell off an extraneously amount of a commodity at a given city (for a large sum) and then immediately buy it back for cheap; and then repeat as often as you please. When spotted, I personally try my best to avoid exploiting this bug; but everyone should allow themselves their own experience.
The "Inevitable" Sequel
Several years later, the developers made a sequel, Caravaneer 2. I only played it very briefly. I personally had some issue with the interface as well as the difficulty of enemies. I should be fair to it and give it another try. After all, the game expanded the weapon choices greatly and added in the ability to capture enemy combatants and sell them into slavery; in true post-apocalyptic style.
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© 2019 Kevin Debler