With games like Final Fantasy XV and the VII Remake, I was convinced that the new guard had completely taken over Square Enix. But lo and behold, classic RPG is still woven into the company’s DNA. They just don’t appear in the spotlight like they used to. Ever since I’ve played Octopath Traveler, I see a little bit of ‘old’ Square Enix in their works. And that’s the same feeling I’m having with their upcoming card-based RPG, Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars.
At the beginning of the demo, we are introduced to the Game Master, the voice that narrates every single action the party does and everything happening around them. He’s basically a D&D Game Master in every respect. He even reads the characters’ line as if he’s retelling the story. As for the player, we make choices based on the cards presented to us, and we roll for initiative during random events using dice. Other than that, we move the fellowship around the game world.
After the GM’s introduction, we are then introduced to the members of the Fellowship of the Ivory Order – Wynifred, Berwyn, Heddwyn. Queen Nilla has summoned them for a matter most urgent. Someone, or something, had something stolen from the Royal treasury. And she was willing to do anything to get it back. As members of the Ivory Order, they are compelled to help the Queen, without expecting a reward in return.
The fellowship’s first task is to gather information about the thief. They decide to head South to look for leads. The Overworld is giant game board covered in card tiles, moving a game piece represents the party moving around. All the cards are faced down at the start, but as the party moves, they flip over. Flipping over cards also has a chance of encountering monsters.
And this is where we get our first real taste of combat in Voice of Cards.
The trio have defined roles in their party – Wynifred is a white mage who can heal her party and cast holy magic. Hedwyn is a black mage. He can cast several elemental spells that take advantage of elemental weaknesses. And lastly, there’s Berwyn. The warrior type. He usually goes last, but his physical attacks hit like a truck.
All combat takes place on a green board that closely resembles the one from table top games. At the start of battle, the player is granted 2 gems. Some skills require a set number of gems to activate. Players can go all out, and use available skills from the get-go, or save up to 10 gems by doing melee attacks turn after turn. In this game, doing an action generates a gem. At the end of battle, the player is rewarded with gold and exp. The usual stuff.
While inside town, the fellowship talk to people for any bit of information. We, as players, familiarize ourselves with the cards that offer specialized services. The most notable part of the whole town segment is the fact that character cards have a back story to them, and that we get to know more as we continue to interact with them. But that’s something that becomes available when the full game releases.
At the very Southern most tip of town, we also get to experience one of the game’s mini-games. My own opinion, it’s akin to a cross between poker and mahjong.
Players make a hand consisting of a pair, 3 of a kind, or a straight (consecutive numbers). Whatever value is attached to the cards, that becomes their score. At the start of each round, players pick up 2 cards. They then form their hands. If they cannot make a hand, they keep one of the cards and throw the rest into a card pool where other players can use them to build sets. They can only keep 3 sets at a time. If they have 4th one, they have to discard one of them. Usually the one with smallest value.
What interests me about this mini-game is that some games have special rules and unique cards in them. It also available as a multiplayer online game. Just in case you want to challenge other players to pass the time. Voice of Cards seems like it’ll have some entertaining side activities.
The final stretch of the demo tasks us to hunt down the fiend who is hiding in a cave somewhere to the East. At this point, it place out like classic Final Fantasy games. moving across a grid, but instead of a sprite, we’re moving a game piece that represents the whole party.
Before entering the final area, we receive a message warning us that we should be at least level 8 before proceeding. I don’t know if this is just part of the demo, or if it will be in the final game. Octopath Traveler does something like this too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s implemented in the final product.
The ‘dungeon’ took around 10 minutes to clear. We just needed to final an iron key card to open an iron gate. The lower floor was already the boss room. It took a couple of encounters to find out what the monsters were weak to, and that helped in the final fight. The Fellowship retrieved the mysterious potion, and presented it to the Queen. But just before we were rewarded, the castle grounds rocked under the roar of something BIG.
The Isle Dragon lives. And that’s Voice of Cards. End demo.
There is definitely something to look forward to with this title. At first, I was afraid that everything was going to determined by a dice roll. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. There character levels and equipment to consider. In a way, that’s what it’s always been in classic turn based games. We just don’t get to see the die getting cast. Narrative wise, I could’ve liked to have seen the Fellowship continue their adventure, but I feel the ragtag group of misfits is more fitting for a Final Fantasy title.
Well, let’s look forward to Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars’ eventual release on October 28th, 2021.
For more information about Voice of Cards, and its pre-order bonuses, check out our previous article here. You can also visit its official website here