Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/runespell_overture/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
You'd think smashing together RPG and strategy elements with a card game would result in a confusing, annoying mess, but new developer Mystic Box have pulled it off with Runespell: Overture, their very first title.
The core of Runespell is its combination of poker and yahtzee mechanics: you get three moves per turn to put yourself in the most advantageous position and the AI in the least. This means matching up cards to create full houses, straights, and so on, any of which can come from not only your deck, but your opponent's, provided they're not already attached to another card. Once you've got five cards ready to go (some of which can be 'junk' cards), you 'attack' your opponent with them. Naturally, the better the combination, the more damage you deal.
Each match offers a reward for attacking an opponent with a one pair within a limited amount of turns, a design choice I found very frustrating as it forces you to compromise your strategy -- better would be to offer a reward (or not) based on the performance numbers shown at the end of a fight.
Upon beating an opponent, depending on the conditions, you may be rewarded with silver and/or special non-traditional cards which grant abilities in battle (gain more turns, do a large amount of damage, prevent opponent from using a card, etc). Most of the cards themselves have limited uses, which can be purchased at merchants outside of battles with silver; others have cooldown periods. In battle, ability cards require 'Rage points', which you gain by dealing damage with traditional cards. The abilities are quite varied but slots are limited, so you'll be picking what you like best for your play style.
The strategy comes in deciding whether or not to hold out for better combination, whether or not to use an ability at a given time (thereby sacrificing a move), and which cards you want to steal as well as which of your own cards you want to prevent from being stolen.
It's got a nice bit of depth to it, and some opponents will beat you good if you're not analyzing your moves, though some seem to make downright senseless plays on occasion. Casual players should be able to have fun with early matches regardless; sadly there are no difficulty settings, which could go a long way in accommodating a variety of players.
Outside of the matches themselves, you can spend your time hopping around the map talking to people, grinding, and looking for quests. Essentially though, it's about battling as much as possible and gaining the most amount of cards to be the best.
Runespell musters a story and character dialogue, and while reasonably well-written, most should find they have little place in a card game, including this one; music and art are also pleasant and serviceable, but nothing I fell in love with. Thankfully, dialogue and cutscenes can be skipped, and music can be turned off if you prefer your own.
Whether you're a strategy card game player who's looking for something new, or a poker player seeking a twist, this is one definitely worth looking into. Multiplayer is really needed, here, but the single player is robust enough you'll feel at least halfway satisfied.
Runespell is currently available for $9.99 on Steam.
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