I love a good card game. I don’t think cards are used properly as a mechanic in videogames enough and I think there are a couple of really good reasons for this. The CCG/TCG genre is starting to get a bit bloated. The reason for this is that for every MTG, Hearthstone or Eternal, there are a million and one clones. There aren’t enough people thinking completely outside the box and this is putting gamers off a bit. The other big reason is that many card based games are found in the realm of FTP and this comes with all the nightmares of enormous pay walls, silly energy limits and more clones. Seriously; way too many clones.
I can understand, therefore, why devs wouldn’t want their games to carry a stigma or just get muddled in with the crowd. What we need are groups of devs just going, “Screw it, let’s do something different.” That mentality goes a hell of a long way and some really good things can be accomplished. I’m hoping that this will be the case with Deck of Ashes, a new story-driven, rogue-lite RPG heading to Steam Early Access in April.
In true rogue-lite fashion, Deck of Ashes isn’t going to make our lives easy. You will find yourself battling your way through a grim fantasy world. As you go, you’ll be hunting for cards for your deck. These cards may represent combat cards, supplies or a series of other resources, all while facing off against an ever more challenging succession of the cursed land’s most powerful beasts. You will also choose a champion, each of which has their own powerful deck to master. You will outfit that deck with a series of powerful antiheroes to back them up.
All you need to do is build a powerful enough deck and go on to beat the Ash Curse and win the game. Easy, right? Right! Did I just mention you only get one life? Yeah, being killed isn’t going to be giving you another try; you’ll be starting from scratch. Making this game even more interesting is that it’s procedurally generated. Don’t expect the same run twice, you won’t get it. You’ll need to use guile and skill to complete Path of Ashes, simply having a good memory for level layouts won’t cut it.
I really hope we’ll be seeing something here that will do something positive for the CCG/strategy genre. Some of the bad press it receives is warranted, but certainly not all. A bit of new blood might be all it takes to add something fabulous. The fact that this is an RPG and not just another PVP card arena may also be a great thing. Just because you’re using cards doesn’t mean you can’t tell a good story.
As I’ve already stated, Deck of Ashes is due to hit Early Access in April. Full release is planned for later this year, should you want to skip to the complete game. Personally, I think this one may well need a closer look. I hope that some of you will be with me.