So my video card died. Again. I must learn to respect lightning as it seems I live in an area very prone to thunderstorms. I looked around for games that I could play without a video card while waiting for the warranty claim to be processed, saw that this game was on sale and promptly bought it. It’s a straightforward adaptation of a superheroes-themed boardgame. Originally it was a multiplayer, cooperative game but on the PC the mechanics are so simple that actually playing it with other people would feel a little silly so it’s pretty much single-player only.
- It’s a card game. Yay, I love card games! No deck building however. Each character, whether hero or villain, has a deck unique to him or her. You’re supposed to pick a villain to fight against, then from three to five heroes, plus an environment deck to represent where the fight takes place. This videogame version perfectly replicates the contents of the boardgame’s base set, and so includes 10 heroes, 4 villains and 4 environments.
- The mechanics look daunting at first but are really quite simple since it’s just a race to drive the villain’s hit points down to zero before all of the heroes are defeated. Each round, the villain acts according to the text printed on his or her card and plays a card from the villain deck. Each hero then acts in turn, playing a card, activating a superpower and then drawing a card. Then a card from the environment deck is played. As is usual with this games, all of the complexity comes from the cards and how they interact.
- The really great news is that each of the villain and hero decks are all very distinctive and play very differently. For example, Ra, pictured above, throws around crazy amounts of damage but it’s almost all fire so he is easily shut down by enemies that are immune to fire. One of my favorite heroes is Wraith who can seemingly do everything from dealing damage, to shutting down villains’ special abilities, to controlling what cards the villain can draw, but it’s all based on her fantastic array of gadgets. Villain effects that wipe the board of all equipment cards will really ruin her day.
- With all of the different decks available, there’s a fair bit of variety in trying different combinations of heroes against different villains and in different environments. Ultimately of course, it’s just a card game so you will get bored of the available combinations eventually but it’s still pretty much the perfect game for the occasional short gaming session of an hour or so. I’m seriously tempted to throw money at the DLCs to get the extra decks because it makes for such a great time-filling game.
- The characters are all new IP but they’re clearly meant to evoke the archetypes that we’re all familiar with, with the resemblance sometimes being so close that I wonder how they get away with it. Grand Warlord Voss for example is a dead ringer for Darkseid, right down to his physical appearance. I think the character designs are okay but the art style is a bit too cartoonish for me, more Saturday Morning cartoon than comic book. They’ve also gone to a lot of trouble to develop backstories and plots but the quality of the writing is questionable.
- I was kind of surprised how easy it is to beat the villains. I think it’s almost impossible to lose to Baron Blade and Omnitron, the two easy villains. The other two villains are more of a challenge but you’ll still win most battles against them. This is likely a result of the game being generally easier on PC since it’s easier to keep track of the different effects and coordinate the actions of the heroes. The villains do come with an advanced mode which should make them considerably harder to beat.
- One complaint I have is that unlocking the variant versions of the cards seems unreasonably difficult. In particular, the two variant versions of the villains add considerable life to the game but unlocking them is rather tricky. Also, the Steam version of this game really, really needs to add some achievements. They would just so perfect for this game.
So yeah, a very fun little game that is well worth its modest cost and very likely this videogame version is actually superior to the original boardgame as well.