I really wanted to like this game. So many things about it were done in a way that seemed amazing through videos and screenshots. When we spoke to Geoff Keene, it was an honor and a privilege – it still is – regardless of how this title turned out in my own opinion, I believe that there is a market for it, and the reviews out there will be mixed.
By design, Detour is a race against time. When the round starts, you have immediate competition with 1-3 other players who may be real or AI, depending on your choices. You have a base of operations, and your ultimate goal is to get a road established so that you can send a number of trucks to the opposite end of the map. As time ticks on, this becomes complicated by existing obstacles as well as the choices made by opposition. Your roads may not cross, so immediately there are bridges and tunnels that begin to form.
On top of that, there are weapons and tools at your disposal. Everything from dynamite to bombs and EMP blasts can be used to destroy roads and disable trucks. Establish turrets and lay down beds of nails to set traps for your enemy’s point-scoring ability.
Not only is the premise and concept of this game original, but on the surface it does sound like an amazing title. For me tough, it felt like it was more about acting quickly than it was developing strategy. A round could be over in mere moments unless you acted first, and this was one of the major reasons I couldn’t truly “get into” the game.
Strategy games, in my opinion, should be a bit longer term. It almost felt like if this exact same game was more turn-based than live action, it would have been a totally different experience. It was unfortunately also released with fairly difficult controls as well (like no hardware mouse support) which got in the way of moving as quickly as was needed (this was corrected in an update a few days after release, thankfully). The menu for tools and items left a lot to be desired, and scrolling through your available options and reading descriptions could prove difficult for brand new players.
The tutorial for single-player mode was very helpful for introducing people to the existing tools, but the AI opponent presented no challenge at all. Once the “real game” started, you felt out-classed and unpracticed. Losses would cause you to simply move faster than to institute different strategies.
Now, while I personally don’t see myself continuing to play this game competitively, as I said before I do believe there is a market for something like this. Sandswept should be applauded for their originality and quick actions to update problems immediately after release. As far as indie games go, this title isn’t “bad” by any means, and I would recommend it to anyone who really enjoys fast-paced strategy. As time goes on, I have no doubt that Sandswept will continue to improve on all aspects of this very new release.
My overall score of this title is a 5.5/10 – though I’m sure that other publications might react differently based upon their own playstyles. For me, it was simply a question of genre – and if they were ever to remove the “live action” from the game as an option, I’m sure they would be able to hit a much larger audience. I do very much look forward to seeing the next thing to come from this new studio. Originality is risky, but so very rare anymore that any new experience is a refreshing one.
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A copy of this game was provided for review purposes.