On December 31st, 1996, the RPG genre of games was forever changed, and western RPGs had found its golden child. We’re now almost 24 years removed from this date. On this date, an entirely new genre of video games was birthed by Blizzard North, a team that is no longer around, but their contributions to gaming has not been forgotten.
In 1997 the first real digital card collecting game was released, based on a game that had been around much longer in the physical space.
Both these genres of games would spawn many classic games enjoyed by millions of players, but never had the two met in the same game sphere, until now.
Cardaclysm is an action RPG with card collecting and turn-based card combat. Imagine random battles when you bump into enemies in Final Fantasy Tactics. However, instead of a tactical grid where you control your party, you get a hand of cards with creatures or spells, and use those as if you were playing Hearthstone.
Cardaclysm sets you as a mage who makes the ultimate screw up, summoning the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Now, you need to go around the dimensions and stop them before they bring about, well, the Apocalypse, or the wizard council finds out what you’ve gone and done.
The Four Horsemen do not seem to line up with Biblical descriptions, though they remain the same. War, Plague, Death, and Famine. You also can meet Famine in the demo, though you will not be able to defeat it.
The demo lasted for about an hour, spanned what is supposed to be two levels, but does not introduce any story. It introduces you to the Interdimensional Inn, where you can do card trades, and get quests. The card trades, the game promises, are not fair trades, but may sometimes be worth it. My first trade felt worth it because at this point, I had multiple copies of the two cards the goblin wanted, whilst I did not have the card that he was offering. The innkeeper gave me a quest to get a lost artifact, though I am getting ahead of myself here.
The game starts off with your character coming out of a portal into a place that really has no explanation, yet. You see a little golden triangle that you’ll want to pick up every time you see it. Next to it is a scorpion. When you approach the scorpion, you get introduced to your first fight.
The game walks you through summoning your first creature, fighting the scorpid, and afterwards once you’ve killed the scorpid, presents you with a chest. Clicking the chest gives you a new card. The game then demos the card for you.
The golden triangle you pick up is called “Golden Runes” and they are your primary resource, used to summon creatures and cast spells. When summoning creatures, you also need to have a soul orb (or up to three), which is a secondary resource and more difficult to find.
Each card is part of a different faction, or allegiance as the game calls it. There are five total: fire, ice, forest, corruption, and neutral. Each one has a different set of abilities for the cards. These abilities need to be used strategically in order to defeat enemies. Cards also have rarity levels ranging from Normal to Mythic.
After a bag drops while playing through, you can now look at your inventory of cards. Inside your inventory of cards, you can merge cards together to create stronger cards, or if you want to separate cards you’ve merged, you can do that too. While in battle if you summon a creature, you can place another of the same creature and have an in-combat promotion of the creature to its next level as well.
The maps are procedurally generated, finding the way out of an area (these felt very small as well) can at times be a bit confusing. The in-battle artwork was much more styling than the open world. I like the artwork though, as it is vibrant and pleasing to look at, as opposed to the game’s more popular aRPG contemporaries Diablo or Path of Exile.
After I cleared the initial level, I was set upon by Famine itself. The whole screen shakes and the audio is of ground shaking footprints, though its not obvious from what direction Famine is approaching you from. If you try to face it, it has a skill that removes 2 attack from your creatures every turn and has 65 health. A developer on the official Cardaclysm discord informed me that you would be able to defeat Famine eventually, however it would be replaced by Pestilence. Logically, you would then be met with War and Death after you defeat Pestilence. I am excited to see what other abilities Pestilence, War, and Death would have.
After the initial level, I died a couple of times and found out that you will lose cards temporarily afterwards, and to gain them back you need to keep playing and beat several groups of enemies. When I came back, the levels were different, evidence of each level being procedurally generated.
As you go through each level, you also will find buffs for your next battle, and you will also find “relics” that you can equip and boost, or nerf, the cards you play.
The game’s music was mostly piano with some other instruments, felt subtle, and added to the game’s ambiance. It was well placed.
I would have to say, I am looking forward to this game’s early access release, which is supposed to be sometime in the summer of 2020. The developers promise over 200 different cards, 40+ artifacts to equip, five mythic bosses, and an endless variety of environments in the game’s final release, scheduled sometime in the Fall of 2020.
Be sure to pick up Cardaclysm on Steam.
The developer did an Ask-Me-Anything on the game’s official discord. I have edited for conciseness and relevance.
Hey everyone! Ede Tarsoly here, the developer behind Cardaclysm![12:02 PM]In the next two hours, you can ask anything here and I’ll do my best to answer
I’m actually pending having a review of the demo being published. One of the things I always want to know when making these reviews is, what drew your inspiration for the game? There’s a 23-year gap between the first aRPG and first dccg, until now I don’t think I’ve seen a game meld the two genres like this one. (edited)
Interesting question The two ideas were separate. The first thing that came into my mind (as a fan of TCGs, long before there were any digital ones) is what would it be like to have a card game where you can summon creatures that are “alive” (i.e. in 3D), is this something I could even do? I also had some ideas that were unique to CCGs at the time (eg. creature upgrades)while building a proof-of-concept version of the game, I thought “wouldn’t it be fun to take your cards with you from battle to battle and traverse worlds with an ever expanding-deck”?So the world map was born. RPG elements came later in development though
When not in battle, the dungeon crawling aspect felt genuine. In most games with RPG elements, creatures drop items at the end of battles. Will you be able to get equipable items from defeating creatures in the game, or will it be part of the random generation of the maps?
Items can only be acquired in two ways: you either pick the randomly generated items up on the world map (1-2 items are generated on each map) or you’ll be able to complete some special quests in the Pub that will reward you with higher level items.
Can items be upgraded in the same vein as cards?
At the moment, there are no plans to do this.
What’re some of your favorite cards in the game?
Hm… let me think, that’s a tough one Well, I guess there is no harm in giving a little teaser
This guy, a level 2 Gargoyle. If it dies, it turns into a 0/20 Stone Gargoyle. If that is not killed in 2 turns, the Immortal comes back with full health, ready to attack again.