After some time in Steam Early Access, Cardaclysm has launched, delivering its mix of action RPG and card collecting. However, despite Early Access allowing developer Elder Games to polish it, does Cardaclysm provide a compelling enough reason to dive in?
Having angered the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who now want you dead, you begin jumping through dimensions via an interdimensional pub to build your deck of cards so to have the ability to fight back against these powerful beings. Each level pits you against hordes of creatures and allows you to use your deck of spells to summon your own creatures into battle, use offensive spells, well as buffs and debuffs to level the playing field. You’ll earn additional cards as loot at the end of battles; new ones to bolster your deck and plenty of duplicates to level up your current collection, as well as equipment you can wear, until you feel strong enough to battle one of the chasing entities and move on the next.
It’s a fairly simple premise that’s seldom expanded or explained, to the point where it makes you wonder if the initial concept was much grander than what the end product provides, but it serves as a good enough driver to get you battling and collecting more cards and equipment, and indeed, it’s collecting these and using them to their fullest where the strategy and fun comes in.
You can choose to combine duplicate cards to end up with an upgraded version, or keep them separate to take advantage of more, cheaper cards you can cast. Meanwhile, equipment adds boosts to your cards and resources to help you manage your collection and unlocks interesting decisions for you to make during combat. It’s a clever system: enemies have a range of abilities that makes each encounter interesting; whether that’s the ability to attack all enemies during an attack, armour to reduce the damage they take, and a plethora of other skills that makes you think about how to engage them.
Moreover, you have limited resources to bring cards into a battle. These resources can be enhanced in-battle occasionally through abilities such as those of the thief creature card, but for the most part you’ll have only a small pool of resources to summon the best set of cards from your deck you feel will win you a battle. Battles are quick as well, meaning you’ll see the fruits of your strategy quickly after employing it.
You do, however, quickly become inundated with cards, and upgrading cards can only be done so many times before they hit maximum. The pub does offer facilities to manger your deck and exchange cards, but you’ll still find yourself with far too many duplicate cards early on. Falling in battle, something that occurs if you, the sorcerer, suffer only one hit, will cause you to lose some of your cards and restart the level – with more harsh punishments for higher difficulty levels. It’s a fair and excepted price from this Rogue-like, that doesn’t hurt you so much as to frustrate.
Between combat encounters you’ll amble around each small environment, picking up equipment, temporary boosts, and additional resources. There are two resources to collect and they are required to cast any spells (cards) from your deck. The gold resource is easy enough to come across, but the blue orbs are far less common. Managing what resources you have available to you and the cost of your cards is an important consideration as you build your active deck and plan out what you deploy in combat.
Cardaclysm’s pleasant aesthetic utilises low-ploy models with a cute design and attractive particle effects, lighting, and camera focus; it’s a great looking game with equally impressive music that really helps bring the combat and environments to life.
Despite new cards being unlocked as your defeat the Four Horsemen, the moment-to-moment action doesn’t change. It, unfortunately, all becomes a bit routine and repetitive. Furthermore, you have a very limited active deck of cards and can only build one deck. A couple of other decks you can swap between would have been a nice feature.
Cardaclysm certainly delivers an interesting and cohesive mixture of card collecting, RPG equipment gathering, and Rogue-like features. It’s a clever mix of mechanics in a visually and audibly pleasant package. Moreover, the fast paced of combat is refreshing and it avoids some of the inherent frustrations of other Rogue-likes with how it handles player death. However, the repetitiveness and lack of story elements is a bit disappointing. Although, if you’re more concerned with the grind of building the perfect deck, this is absolutely worth your time.
Cardaclysm is a well-designed Rogue-like with an interesting mix of Card collecting and RPG mechanics, all wrapped up in a aesthetically appealing game. It does, however, fall foul of repetition.
- Great presentation
- Fast-paced, clever combat
- Card management is restrictive