In recent years, the Card Battler genre has exploded, with games such as Slay The Spire, Dicey Dungeons, and Monster Train spearheading the movement. With all of these games achieving great success, it’s no wonder that up-and-coming developer Greedy Wolf Studio would want to throw their hat into the ring with their new game, Cardnarok: Battle With Gods.
So, What Makes It “Special?”
Cardnarok: Battle With Gods takes heavy inspiration from the aforementioned Slay The Spire, which some may say detracts from the overall originality of the game itself. However, Cardnarok makes up for this with its somewhat unique concept of giving you a party of three gods to command into battle. Players can also traverse a Monopoly-like gameboard, complete with a “Start” space and movement decided by a dice roll. The story (or what little there is) tasks you with saving the world from the stereotypical “dark evil” spreading across the land.
It’s fair to call Cardnarok: Battle With Gods isa combination of ideas and mechanics from multiple card/board games. As mentioned above, if you’ve played Slay The Spire before, you’ll instantly recognize the secondary menu design as well as elements of the actual battle interface, as well as the in-game shop. Also of note are the card designs themselves, which bear a strong resemblance to the designs from the iconic card game, Hearthstone.
This isn’t all that surprising, given that at least one of the 3-man developer team has previously worked for Blizzard. This mishmash of design elements does the game little favor as it leads to the play space feeling cluttered and confusing. The lack of tooltips when you hover over your cards during battles doesn’t help either.
I found particular frustration with the cards themselves. While there’s a decent variety of cards already in the game, very few of them are effective in battle. I found that attacks tended to vary between being either far too weak or too ridiculously strong. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if you had a consistent deck of cards, but the game oddly randomizes your cards at the start of each new run of encounters. You’re never sure what cards you have to work with, and I found this impacted on the gameplay significantly. When you can never rely on having a solid combo in each run, progressing through the game gets pretty challenging.
Even the game’s one novel element (a party of characters that you can take into battle) is poorly executed. Each character has their own set of specialty cards that they draw from as well as your main deck. In theory, this could work well, but the balance issues with the few heroes I played with made it hard to find anything positive about it.
Should You Buy It?
Currently, Cardnarok: Battle With Gods is available on Steam for $15.49. In its current state, that’s a hefty price to pay for an unfinished game. In earnest, it needs a lot of refinement and polish before it leaves early access. That’s not to say that the core of a great game isn’t in there— if Greedy Wolf Studios change things up a little and distance themselves from the games that inspired them, they may have a hit on their hands.