Fighting with colonialism in Queen's Wish: The Conqueror

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 5th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Sometimes it’s hard to stick with a game, even if you enjoy playing it. Perhaps it’s just too stressful, perhaps it disturbs you, or—as is the case with Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror—you might not be down with its narrative conceit.

Queen’s Wish: The Conquerer is an open-world role-playing game from Spiderweb Software that’s been five years in the making. As soon as you boot it up, you can tell the love and craftmanship poured into the game, particularly via the game’s writing and attention-to-detail. My only problem with it is it’s asking me something I don’t really want to do: reclaim a colony as part of the queen’s empire.

I don’t want to delve into all of the reasons why imperial colonialism is bad. There are many other places with better writers that have covered the subject, even within the context of games (here’s somewhere to get started). I’m also not opposed to playing games that feature colonialism or other problematic subjects. But, in the opening hours of Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror, it seems everyone is super happy to have me restore this colony, and I feel powerless to do anything but fulfill their wishes.

As an open-world rpg, Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror, you’re free to do quests in any order you want and respond to interactions with NPCs using a surprising number of dialogue options. Some of these options include allowing you to voice reluctance at the idea of reclaiming a colony and responding to all calls to action with the desire to leave and return home. But, it seems like no matter what you do, progressing in Queen’s Wish involves restoring this colony, whether you like it or not.

In quests that bring you out to the western lands, for example, there are native peoples inhabiting marshes that are referred to as “dirty” who you must pit against each other to reclaim resources for the colony. Although I can make my character seem unenthused to do this work, Queen’s Wish insists you do it to drive things forward in the game.

Every time I run up against something like this in Queen's Wish, I want to turn it off and spend my time elsewhere. Although I’m having fun discovering this world and engaging in its layered narrative, combat, and management systems, I don’t enjoy being openly confronted with some of the worst aspects of conquering a foreign land, especially when I don’t really get to oppose it in a meaningful or interesting way.

Given the openness of Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror’s gameplay, plus some references to “freeing the oppressed” in its App Store description, I’m hoping I can eventually get to a point where I can defy the queen’s orders and dismantle the colony or outright refuse to exploit natives. In these opening hours though, I haven’t seen anything allowing me to do such a thing. I plan to keep playing Queen’s Wish to see how this ultimately shakes out, but it will be a slog until I feel more empowered to defy my queen’s orders.

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