When it comes to visually stunning titles Shadow Era is up there in the charts, with bold graphic styles, and a wonderful interface, making this trading card game, (which typically translates poorly to handheld devices) an absolute joy to play.
When first starting the game, you must choose a hero to represent you and your deck. Hero’s are broken down into 2 factions, Human and Shadow, and each Hero also has a class. This decides what kind of cards you can place into your deck. For example, if selecting a Human Mage Hero, I can use Human cards and Mage cards but not Rogue or Shadow.
With plenty of cards to choose from, trade for, and win from matches; the game can go on for some time. While the master list of cards is not super impressive as some more well-established trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering, it’s about appropriate to what you should expect from TCG’s first set of cards.
Once you are happy with your deck you can set out to play against computer controlled AI opponents, or play online against other players. A Deck is broken down into the following card types:
- Heroes– The main part of a deck, this is what limits what cards you can put in a deck, is always on the field of battle, and when dies, you lose the game.
- Allys – Cards that have health and do battle against your opponent and his creatures.
- Attachments – equipment and buffs you and apply to creatures, or to the entire game itself.
- Abilities – Cards that are “cast” and have instant or lasting effects on creatures, or Hero’s.
- Weapon – A card that a hero uses to strike your opponent’s hero or allies. A Hero can not attack without one.
- Armor – A Hero’s armor card will provide protection and effects for your Hero when he/she is struck in battle.
A full list of the cards for this first set release can be obtained here.
Once logged in and an account created, you can now log into this account from pretty much any device (Mac, PC, iOS, or Android devices), regardless of where your account was created. Shadow Era is one of the few games on the market that allows iOS users to go up against Android users in a competitive atmosphere, and for this it scores extra points with me.
I find that playing on the iPhone 3GS’s smaller screen vs. the larger screen of the iPhone 4, 4S, or 5 is only slightly limiting. The text is still quite readable and the game, with all of its clean effects, still looks very impressive. I did find it a bit easier to edit my deck using my desktop computer, purely for the ease of having a mouse to manipulate things with a little more precision however.
After a handful of computer controlled matches, I’ve earned myself some new packs of cards and learned some better tactics (after being absolutely dominated on by the people who have been playing awhile). Now, fairly confident in my abilities as a player, I’ve returned to playing online vs. other players. While not the most in-depth card game I’ve played, Shadow Era really hits the key notes of customization, varied play styles, and a fair amount of balancing within the cards in the set.
The card artwork is gorgeous, and design of the card layout is near perfect. Information on the cards is clear and easy to read. The effects for spells and attacks are simple, and could have been more intricate, but definitely serve their purpose well. Overall, this is a very pretty looking title.
As far as TCG’s go this is a fair game. It’s simple to learn, and hard to master, but still lacks in terms of GOOD working deck ideas. There are quite a few deck builds that shine over others, but I can assume this will become less of an issue as more sets and more cards are released.
While having a great audio track, it’s typically the same song over and over while you’re playing and it can get rather repetitive. The effects, and menu sounds are right where they should be, and feel perfect for the atmosphere this game creates.
While a trading card game is by no means a new concept, there are various ways to really make your TCG shine above others. While Shadow Era touches on a few of these, I think they leaned too much on “we’re multiplatform!” and less on “we have great gameplay”.
Wow what a title, I see this one holding me for quite some time, when I don’t feel like shelling out money for new magic cards, this TCG hits the spot. While it has room for improvement, it’s off to a fantastic start, and I can’t wait for the next set of cards to hit.