Many game genres are becoming commonplace nowadays. One such genre is collectible card games. This genre on its own isn’t always enough to garner my attention. Now when you include in your description that it incorporates “RPG elements” then I’m tempted to take a look. And that’s exactly what we did with Elder Games’ collectible card game called Cardaclysm: Shards Of The Four that arrived on Steam PC about a month ago. We took a spin for a few hours into this card game to see what “RPG elements” it incorporated and how.
The first thing that catches the eye when starting Cardaclysm is the game’s artwork. The colors are deep and bold and the artwork has a slightly cartoony feel to it. The artwork will certainly be compared to World Of Warcraft. Some players will find just the mention of this to be a turn-off. I found it to be pleasing and it didn’t bother me in the least.
The story behind the game is not terribly radical from other games in a Fantasy setting motif. You play as a dark wizard who’s tinkered with magic and spells way too powerful for you. In doing so you’ve unleashed the infamous “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. So now you find yourself armed with your (magical) cards needing to send them all back to their dimension before all hell breaks loose!
Built Upon A Collectible Card Game
Cardaclysm is a fantasy-themed collectible card game with RPG elements and is very rogue-lite in nature. All the basic gameplay of a collectible card game exists here. Each battle you go into you see yourself with a deck that is randomly dealt for you. You’ll always have four cards face up to choose to play. Going into a battle you see your first four cards and can choose to redraw one or more.
Kind Of Like Energy But Not
Each battle you start with a number of “Golden Runes”. This number goes down as you play a card by subtracting the played card’s “Golden Rune cost”. The end goal of the game is to progress deep enough that your Golden Rune storage goes up and therefore you become powerful enough to card battle a horseman. There is also a secondary resource in play here called “Soul Orbs”. These are considered rare and are used to summon creatures (see “Soul Orb cost” in the picture above). Summoning typically costs between 1-3 orbs per summon.
An RPG-Like Battle Encounter System
You enter card battles by entering a unique, procedurally generated level or dungeon, for lack of a better word. Your goal is to investigate the entire level looking for the gold key to unlock the exit and complete the level. During your search, you’ll take part in optional random card battle encounters and also find power-ups, etc. The card battle encounters while not necessarily new territory were frequent and quick enough to be thoroughly entertaining. Each battle won in victory earns a loot chest which is typically one or two new cards, etc. If you die in battle you lose the cards you earned as well as any gear found and equipped during that “run”.
But Time Is Ticking
While all of these power-up pick-ups and card battles are fun and entertaining there is an ominous presence that keeps you on edge. You see there’s a Cursed Being (a horseman?) that’s chasing you in each dungeon. Over time he appears randomly on the level you’re playing and he physically chases you! His entrance is made with great fanfare so you’ll never be caught off-guard when he does arrive.
Your goal on each level is to find the golden key, unlock the exit door and get out! If he catches you then you need to face him in a card battle. So you really don’t want to do this until your powerful enough. For the initial few hours I played, my Golden Runes count was up to 46-ish. I’ve seen cards in-game that have a Golden Rune cost of 120 and up. So it’ll take quite a few runs, and some grinding, to get your Runes and Orbs resource pools high enough to take on the four mythic level bosses, i.e horsemen.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
There is also a “hub” called the Interdimensional Pub. Between card battles, you’ll visit the Pub to get quests and challenges. Quests are in the form of “get me this type of card”. You’ll also be able to trade cards with a broker and store your excess cards in your personal chest until you need them.
The Lasting Impression
If you look hard enough you might come to the conclusion that there isn’t a lot that’s new or innovative here. In doing so you’d be overlooking the fact that Elder Games has brought together key elements of several game genres which have led to an entertaining, addictive, and fulfilling collectible card game experience. The battles and dungeons are paced such that they feel fun without being a deep time sink all at once. This is a game you can play at short intervals. Nevertheless, there’s something about this one that makes you want to keep on coming back to it! At the end of the day could we ask for much more?
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.