Publisher: Square Enix
Released: October 28th, 2021
Platforms: Nintendo Switch/Microsoft Windows/PlayStation 4
As a kid, my introduction to card games was with Uno, a simple color and number base game that is fun for the whole family. As I grew older, I experienced more card based games like Spades, Explosive Kittens, and Resident Evil. Video games have adopted the card based gameplay for decades now, presenting a unique and wide range of gameplay options for gamers. One of these is the gorgeous and innovative Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars published by Square Enix and developed by Alim. Created by Yoko Taro, who’s known for Nier: Automata, this table-top inspired JRPG takes a different approach in the genre. Does Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars speak well as a game or does it discard itself in its execution?
Hear My Tale
Voice Of Cards has a simple premise to it. You play as Ashe, a warrior who has a mysterious past, that journeys along with his sidekick, Mar, who takes up Queen Nilla’s request to destroy a dragon who is threatening the land. You hope to join the castle’s Ivory Order for the journey but are turned down quickly by them. Instead, you proceed with Mar on this quest and as you progress through the store, you will meet other characters who will join you.
The story unfolds with written cards and they’re narrated by the Game Master that’s voiced in English by Todd Haberkorn. (He played a major part in the game’s production as he voiced every character in the game when cards with written dialogue appear on screen). The game does offer subtitles, but you won’t need it due to everything being on cards, and you can read them at your own leisure when it appears. It’s these touches that take the card aesthetic and allows the entire game to revolve around it.
Yu-Gi-So, That’s How You Play The Game
The battle system in Voice Of Cards is one of the easiest and most endearing mechanics to learn. With three characters in your party, you consist of three cards and a “Pass Turn” card. You make movements based on the gems you are given at each turn. Depending on the number of gems you have in a box on the far left corner, you can use particular cards. Each character does have a basic attack that doesn’t require any gems, but there are special attacks you will need to use to find an enemy weakness. If you run out of gems, don’t fret. The next turn will give you one gem and you can go from there.
There are also items that will help you obtain more gems for the next character to fight with or any one you plan to use in your strategy. As you level up your characters, you’ll acquire more cards . Be warned though, if you don’t switch out your attack and magic cards correctly, you can end up in battles that you aren’t prepared for. There might be an enemy weak against fire, and if you don’t have that spell attack, the fight could take awhile or you could end up defeated.
There are “Happening Cards” that randomly appear in battles. When this happens, everyone will receive a boost or some benefit from an element, a status effect, or more gems. For example, all the cards may be cursed where no one can heal for a turn. It changes up with each turn, and you’ll always have one in boss battles, so be aware what card is chosen for that round.
I love this mechanic and hope to see more games use it. Once you learn the ropes of the battle system, all you have to do is prepare for some outstanding and fun fights.
Singing On The Deck Of The Bay
Before I go any further, the soundtrack in Voice Of Cards is a masterpiece. Composed by Oliver Good, Shotaro Seo, and Keiichi Okabe, the music in the battles is fierce and wonderful. Even in the towns and walking (or in this case hopping) on the table to reveal cards, the calming guitar arrangement along with the swooping notes from a flute is fitting. All of the music is performed by a live orchestra. I especially love that when the game is progressing to a new chapter, you’ll hear this lovely waltz tune with a female vocal accompany the story that is recapping the progress you just made. It’s very calming and delightful.
The downside to this is that there’s not many songs. If it had at least ten tracks to the game, it would be an album worth owning, but it feels more like a EP with five or six music tracks. Even at the ending of the game, you wish there was more music for the credit roll. What we do get though may be the among the year’s best score in gaming.
Art Of The Card
Voice Of Cards‘ artwork is beautiful in its characters and features: well detailed character design and some, should I say, eye-catching visuals on some non-playable characters. Nothing is really animated with the cards, which is a bit disappointing; but to be fair, it’s a card base game.
As for the world itself, it’s kind of bland; and as you walk around, you reveal more cards that direct your path and allow you to explore and find secrets. Nothing surprising, but it’s nice seeing it when you have the whole area visible. Especially when you need to jump to a town or dungeon.
Shuffling The Experience
Compared to most other JRPGs, there aren’t many side quests to take on, and really there’s not much to do when you get into towns, either. You can buy armor, weapons, items, or play a game for more cosmetics, but that’s it. You get free lodging at the inn, and you can make card choices when you come across certain story points. There’s isn’t much beyond that when it comes to you exploring the town and world. With only seven chapters and at the twelve-hour mark, Voice of Cards only replay value is seeing the multiple endings in the game. The cards you obtain and experience does carry over to a new game so unless you want to see the true ending of the game, you’ll have to replay all the chapters from the beginning. With such a great battle system and characters you come across, you wished the game was a bit longer.
A Full House Of Fun
Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is a masterful and easy JRPG to play through. With a smooth battle system mechanic, an endearing composition, elementary story, and some funny dialogue and moments in this game, Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is one of the best role playing games of 2021. Don’t be the Uno to miss out on this fantastic title.
Rating: 5 Stars
Have you played Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars? Thinking of purchasing the game? Let us know in the comments or in our Discord
Image: Square Enix.
Eddie V. is a co-founder of Boss Rush Games who writes, podcasts, and loves video game trivia. You can find him on Twitter with @thatretrocode.