Cardaclysm is a looker, and by now you should all know that I’m a sucker for a game with a lush art style. Beyond how good it looks though, is it any good?
I’m not an expert on collectible card games, and I won’t pretend to be. But unlike some, Cardaclysm has the right blend of action RPG stylings to keep me entertained. There’s some mumbo-jumbo around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse being unleased, but that’s merely a light touch attempt at explaining why they are chasing you around the procedurally generated levels.
It is those levels which demonstrate the beauty of this game, and they’re levels which I am left wanting more from. Each time you enter a new level you will be challenged with defeating the six foes and finding the key to unlock the door blocking the portal to the Interdimensional Pub which acts as the main hub of the game. As you wander you will find buffs dotted around along with new gear, but these truly are levels where I would have been happy to smash through in a traditional action RPG.
As it is, combat is card based with battles of up to five creatures lining up on each side. The visuals are still gorgeous during battles, but when you trigger a chain reaction which rumbles through all the creatures on the board, it is all too often over too quick without giving you a chance to truly appreciate the moves and countermoves which take place.
Fortunately, the card-based battles are entertaining, although it took me a while to dig deep enough into the mechanics of the game to make too much progress. The early few levels before reaching the Interdimensional Pub are a bit of a romp, but soon enough I came across a level with a modifier impacting on cards with the Poison ability and a sudden ramp up in the challenge posed by the enemies.
The easy early levels had lulled me into a false sense of security that I could steamroll my way through most battles without much in the way of thought, but the Poisonous Gardens were nearly my undoing. After several futile runs I realised that I had to start paying attention to the level modifiers, the gear I was wearing and the cards I was playing to ensure they were aligned properly.
Suddenly, the depth of Cardaclysm had swallowed me whole and I was looking forward to the opportunity of getting some Sylvan Greaves to complete a set and unleash the bonuses that would be conferred by my Sylvan Cloak.
It’s a shame that the driving momentum behind Cardaclysm is ultimately a case of grinding your way past the six foes on each level to get back to the Pub, or face one of the Four Horsemen if you’re feeling lucky. There are generic fetch quests that you can pick up from the barman or huntress in the Interdimensional Pub, but with a lack of any passing sense of story my motivation to continue soon drained away as quickly as my love of the art style did when stumbling across the tavern.
The Pub is entirely devoid of the gorgeous sense of fantasy and adventure that you get within the levels, and the quest givers and merchants could quite easily have been cardboard cut-outs. I have no doubt that many will come to Cardaclysm to build an all powerful deck and taken down the Four Horsemen, but I need a little bit more to keep me going.
As of writing, Cardaclysm is still in Early Access and will be seeing a full launch on the 26th February with new cards and gear, controller support, a new realm and an end-game. I’ll probably check back in after launch to check out the lay of the land when its feature complete, but while I adore the visual stylings and the action has great depth, there’s not enough of a driving force to the action here to make a full throated recommendation. I’m just left wanting more of a reason to continue.
The Verdict – On Target
Platforms Available / Reviewed – PC
Review based on Steam media account copy. See this page for more on our scoring policy.