When I first saw the screenshots for Deckmake Fantasy my mind immediately went into a blissful state of anticipation. The graphical style, and description of the gameplay made me associate to the great Sword & Poker series. There is no actual resemblance of the gameplay, and DeckMake Fantasy is basically a lite version of Magic the Gathering and other card collecting battle role playing games. I have to stress the LITE, as the strategy and AI in the game are limited to a significant degree.
In Deckmake Fantasy you start in Firsta, a kingdom plagued by goblins, harpies and giant worms. The kingdom is divided into square sectors that all look the same. Each have a town that you can enter. Once in the town you have three options: talk to the guild to get locations of enemies, buy new cards and select cards on hand. After exiting the town you get to either go to another part of the kingdom or attack any of the enemies available. This is then repeated in 14 towns until everything is defeated, and you can talk to the king in the 15th square that contains the castle. After that you get to travel to Secondaria, and then to Thirdona. When a game developer can’t even think of proper names, but has to use numerical terms to develop the story I get quite annoyed. Where is the fantasy in that?
The gameplay is straightforward. You get a hand of four cards randomly drawn. Play a card, watch the consequence, and then let the enemy attack. Most enemies only use one pattern, and it is not clear whether they actually play using a deck of cards or only one attack. As enemies get harder they start vary themselves by using magic to enhance attack or defence stats. Other than that battles are more about waiting for them to end than actually developing any strategy.
What I found interesting, and quite fun was the thought of building the most powerful deck possible. The town shops have three different cards each, and you can carry 20 into battle. Cards are used for attacks, boosting power or defence, or used for special attacks. Cards good in attack power might have low defence ratings. Depending on your cards you will get your health meter. To me a strong offence has worked better than keeping a high health ratio. Once you have amassed the strongest possible deck it will be easy to breeze through the rest of the current kingdom. Battles tend to become tedious, and once a kingdom is completed you have to restart the process of getting a strong deck again.
The story is quite thin, and so is the writing. It is easy to tell that English is not the first language for the developer, but there are not many errors in spelling but rather just a crude language. The same basic lines are repeated over, and over, and over again. There are too many small animations, and texts that have to be clicked for the action to continue. If the game was streamlined for speed it could have been a cool quick casual RPG in the vein of Fastar! Now it all feels slow, and thin.
The presentation is ok, and takes a lot of cues from Final Fantasy and other classics. I do think that the repetition of characters, enemies and textures makes the game feel kind of bland. Music, and sound effects are what you expect from the genre. Digitized versions of classical music that worked really well some fifteen years ago. The sound effects are ok as well, but nothing really memorable. You can listen to your own music while playing the game.
What the game has that still makes it a good investment is game life. That is if you approach it as a casual RPG meant to only help you spend time when waiting for a train or something. Making a strong deck can be quite fun, but the game never grips you with story or challenge. If you face an easy enemy your win is guaranteed, and if you face something too strong you can simply escape the battle. Do not expect a full featured card collecting game, but rather something that feels kind of lite.
DeckMake Fantasy $2.99
Seller: Beeworks Co,. Ltd.