The Expected Review
HIGH The AI pathing outdoes most triple-A studios.
LOW No replay value beyond achievement hunting.
WTF It just sort of ends without a climax.
Nostalgia is one hell of a drug. One of my favorites from my preteen years was Warcraft III — a legendary RTS (Real Time Strategy) with unlimited replayability and a talented community that literally invented the MOBA genre using the expansive map editor. Unfortunately, due to the success of its younger sibling World of Warcraft, it never received a proper sequel. Doubly unfortunate is that the remaster released in early 2020 retroactively made the original game worse – but that’s a full article on its own.
In light of this situation, many fans of Warcraft III (myself included) have been searching for a spiritual successor to fill the void. So, when I first saw screenshots and video of The Unexpected Quest, I was excited. The art style clearly harkened back to the RTS titles of the early ’00s, and the camera angle and unit actions seemed to indicate it emulated the genre as well.
However, appearances were slightly deceiving, as The Unexpected Quest plays like a simplified version of those titles.
Units are not directly controlled by the player. Instead, the player assigns an object to collect or interact with, and the appropriate unit will perform the task automatically. Gamers must gather resources to complete the goals of each chapter, which often coincide with sidequests that can be picked up for extra rewards. As with any strategy title, acquiring and properly allocating resources is key to victory, although The Unexpected Quest provides a baseline unlimited supply and a market to trade resources on, meaning that no mistake will mean an unfixable game over.
TUQ offers eight chapters in total, though the first two are shorter tutorials while those following expand on the mechanics and length, up to an hour or more each. Unfortunately, the expansive maps are generally approachable in only one way, making the experience incredibly linear and hampering replayability.
This simplified design is (luckily) complimented by a solid technical framework. Menu functionality is simple and concise, the control scheme works exactly as it should, and there are even four save slots and an auto-save that ensure the player is not stuck replaying a section if interrupted.
The most impressive aspect is unit AI, which always acted as expected and could find not only the best path for individual units, but the most efficient way to do multiple things at once with multiple units — farming all available resources, for instance.
Of course, there are some small issues. I encountered was trouble with an occasional lack of visibility. On a small screen (like handheld mode on the Switch) it can be tough to make out what’s going on, and the coloring and shadows can sometimes cause objects blocking units’ path to blend in with the background.
What we have here are the bones of a good — maybe even great — title that’s technically competent and delivers simple, satisfying gameplay with a consistent, nostalgic art style. However, The Unexpected Quest‘s biggest problem is that there just isn’t enough meat on these bones.
The campaign can be finished in about seven hours without any real difficulty or climax, and it holds no replay value beyond achievement hunting. The Unexpected Quest does scratch a certain itch for the good ol’ days of the RTS genre and the lack of difficulty makes it a solid buy for those who aren’t genre vets, but with just a little more on offer, this could have been a must-play.
— Mitch Zehe
Disclosures: This game is developed by Rionix and published by PQube Limited. It is currently available on Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 9 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence. The game involves some combat between humans and non-humans (orcs, zombies, etc.) but there is no sexual content or questionable language.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered or resized. No audio cues are required to play. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram. The cursor can be moved with the left stick. The camera is moved with the right stick. The A button is used to click or confirm. The B button is used to cancel or back out of menus. There is no touch screen functionality.