Title: Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: February 17, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Turn-Based JRPG, Card Battler
I doubt many were expecting another Voice of Cards entry, let alone one so soon after the initial game’s release late last year. Regardless, this new title, Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, is here, and it manages to provide a distinct enough experience from Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars to stand out from its shadow. Still, many of its inherent design choices reflect that game for better or worse, embracing its faults and strengths amidst a few inventive yet never fully fleshed out concepts.
Due to the presentation of this game being such an integral facet of its nature, we recommend checking out our review of Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars if you’re uninformed about the card-based design. Rather than needlessly reiterating mirrored points of explanation, we find it better to direct our initial critiques of the aesthetics and combat since they match up here.
Throughout Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, players control the nameable protagonist as he and the failed maiden he looks after, Laty, end up searching for other maidens on a voyage across the sea to fulfill a particular goal of theirs. Before moving on, I should note that I will be making many comparisons to the first Voice of Cards since this sequel is nearly identical in style.
The Forsaken Maiden’s premise, when the player learns more of the plight they are facing off against, is far more engaging than its predecessors. While there’s a similar game loop, it doesn’t feel as shackled to safety as The Isle Dragon Roars was, going to genuinely wild places. This time around, the cast receives stronger, more contextual focus given their circumstances, and developments feel more cohesive.
Further, the new narrator grants a sense of identity by adding a bit of needed personality. Unfortunately, combat is as mindless and lacking in difficulty as before. In fact, I’d argue this game is even easier. There is less character customizability due to some party members having fixed equipment, and the game seemingly has to account for that by limiting the health and damage dealt by foes. As a result, little to no preparation is required for any bosses, and most players will find themselves steamrolling them. Cooperative attacks are added between specific groups of characters, yet they don’t differentiate in application enough from standard attacking skills.
Moreover, the absence of induced tabletop elements in combat and exploration has carried over from the last game. Aside from dice rolls determining status effects, bonus damage, and events in the overworld, this feels more akin to a turn-based JRPG with a superficial tabletop skin.
Granted, I was caught off guard by a few instances of dice rolls being more meaningful, at least in a gameplay sense. For example, an NPC can give you a piece of equipment for free depending on a dice roll, with a failed roll resulting in a loss of expenses. Further incorporation of this kind of risk-reward system throughout the title would have been appreciated to shed this skin into a more meaningful impact.
Thankfully, the High-Speed mode added to The Isle Dragon Roars via an update post-launch is included here, providing swifter progression for those turned off by the slow pacing of the default game speed. This does aid in alleviating the unexpectedly high encounter rate, which is often more frustrating than helpful. Instead, levels are earned rather swiftly, and you don’t ever need to grind for story battles, making the onslaught of mobs faced off against in dungeons more of a collective annoyance.
These high encounter rates are confusing because of the enemy’s brittleness and lack of difficulty, so they feel like wastes of time. A few simple but still effective puzzles are placed throughout some areas, and I would’ve rather had more of those than meaningless enemy fodder that did little to enrich my characters or the overall experience.
Sound design is as impactful as it was in The Isle Dragon Roars, with charming card sound effects and brilliant tracks at every corner of the experience. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t help but notice that a few card sound effects seemed absent. For instance, there would be no accompanying sound effects when using the Blizzard card, which I doubt was intentional. Thankfully, these oddities were incredibly infrequent but still head-scratching nonetheless.
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden provides an engaging tabletop adventure fueled by a fantastical narrative. However, there is little to no challenge to be found in the encounters along the way, which weigh heavily on the epicness this story could otherwise provide. Still, this is an undeniably fun experience and stands out amongst any other title released today.
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