Voice of Cards Demo Discussion

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slax

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#1  Edited By slax

I just played through the Demo on Steam and had some thoughts.

This is the Yoko Taro Square Enix Card Based RPG. Everything here is cards, the map, the characters, the equipment, everything!! Except the game board that appears and the dice that you use and some gems and your game piece. But otherwise we have an Oops all Cards situation on our hands.

The game is stylish and wonderful looking. And honestly I think that's the crux of my problem with it.

Look at all these cards!
Look at all these cards!

This has a real style over function theme. The menus feel sluggish because all the tabs are cards, and they move and flip when you switch to them. Going into battle means instead of a quick transition as JRPGs of old did (or not super quick depending) you get a board being set up with all your character cards, the enemies appear and then any action you take is cards interacting with each other, with the gems, or any number of other simple but not super short animations. When you do damage to an enemy there health crystal shrinks and when they die it takes a second as their life crystal explodes.

It's card-a-palooza over here
It's card-a-palooza over here

It feels as if they were trying to compensate for the simplicity of the cards by adding more animations, but they are just like cards glowing and flipping an extra time. It didn't quite hit with me.

Besides the style, the combat system, where every hero has their own abilities (as cards), some take a resource of gems. Gems you get after performing any action I think? Even one that spends some gems. This seems like their replacement for a mana system. You seem to always start with 2 gems and there are cards that can get you more. I don't mind not having to juggle MP from battle to battle, but I think early game the gems made it too easy as you could always use your very strong 2 gem spending move your first turn to kill one of the enemies and still have gems for your next two characters to use some highly damaging moves.

And when it comes to information in combat, this game straddles the line between perfect information (like a slay the sprire) and most other JRPGs where you just try stuff to see how much damage it will do. It doesn't tell you what the enemy plans to do, but you do see how much damage you are going to do based on your character's attack plus the card you pick, compared the the enemies defense. I think it works fine, although I'm not sure why they are making me do all the math instead of just telling me what the damage could be with chance of crit or miss.

Spoilers for best character of the year based on name alone?
Spoilers for best character of the year based on name alone?

Most of the game is voice but it is all done by a single narrator. Which was fine, didn't really move the needle one way or another for me.

But the music rips, so maybe a day one buy?

I know this is mostly negative, but I think there is a really cool game here, it just needs to be a little more snappy. They even have an easy way to jump to already explored map cards (there are some weird restrictions on this though that make it seem slightly less useful) if you don't want to haltingly jump from card to card.

What did you all think?

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sandm0rph22

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not a fan of making almost every part of the game a card theme, esp the map, shopping experience and menus. the overall pacing feels sluggish because of it.

positives would be the music, classes, and some of the combat.

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brian_

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I enjoyed the demo a whole lot, but I'm a sucker for playing cards. I don't care about function here. I want to see some cards flip!

I also like that this thing is barely a card game. It's just a JRPG, with a card game aesthetic. A lot of people are out there just using cards to make deck building rouge-likes right now. I'm glad someone's doing something different with cards.

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slax

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@brian_: For sure. I guess I'm curious why the design decision when they are not engaging with any of the actual mechanics.

They could've made this a 2d rpg and I would've been all over that!

I'm certainly glad you enjoyed it though.

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brian_

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@slax: Because cards are just rad. Even just to look at. I have a tarot deck. I don't believe in it, I don't do anything with them, but they just look cool and I like looking at them from time to time.

This thing definitely seems to be one of those games made for a very specific weirdo with a fetish for cards. Style for style's sake. Even at the cost of function, and possibly turning off some people in the process. But as a very specific weirdo with a fetish for cards, I appreciate it.

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slax

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@brian: That's all fair! I do really like the style of having everything be cards, but I guess for me, it may not be enough to overcome the clunky interface. But who knows, maybe they'll add a speed option and i'll really enjoy it.

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BisonHero

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I had a pretty negative impression of the demo. I don't mind that the card flipping kinda makes the menus slow, my issue is more with the entire enterprise, top to bottom. I don't know what I expected, just something more? More original, more clever, more unusual. Anything. It's a functional demo, but I think the game is completely unremarkable.

Maybe this is putting too much on Yoko Taro, but I wanted to assume that whatever the game was, even on a more modest budget, he would do something interesting with it, but that isn't looking like the case. The Nintendo store describes it as "an all new, yet appealingly nostalgic gaming experience" and I can't disagree; it sure seems like a bog-standard Dragon Questy JRPG that I've seen a million times before. There seems to be little to no customization of your party members' skills/class/anything other than higher stat equipment, it just seems like pretty standard cleric/warrior/wizard kinda stuff, the combat is "you-gain-1-party-mana-per-turn-now-bully-underpowered-enemies," there's nothing to do on the world map except look for a couple chests, the town is some real NES-era 3-vendors-2-pointless-villagers kinda stuff, the dungeon was "walk around until you get a key, open the one locked door", the story is "there's probably an evil dragon or maybe the queen is evil, who the fuck cares."

Maybe the demo is holding something back, but it just looks really, really simple in plot, premise, and gameplay. I don't know what to even look forward to in the main game, other than "maybe it has more of that sailor with the giant dick."

The card theming just seems totally wasted. Oddly enough, I'm reminded of Crimson Shroud for the 3DS. Both games seem to want to tout some kind of tabletop influence, with some combinations of cards/dice/miniatures/an actual tabletop. And both stumble pretty hard, creating something that is more a JRPG where dice are randomly on-screen for no reason, instead of anything coherently resembling tabletop RPGs or really capitalizing on the tabletop theme in some other way.

Consider some other examples of cardy, dicey, tabletoppy games:

Dicey Dungeons: ok it's a roguelite, but you pick a character, all of your skills' effects are dictated by dice rolls in some way, and you decide how to spend your dice rolls each turn. It's simple, but then also gets devilishly complicated at the same time. Also a really bizarre 70s game show setting or whatever the fuck is going on with the game's great art.

Hand of Fate: the cards are more like tarot cards, your antagonist is The Dealer, a sort of fortune teller dickhead who is constantly telling your bad fortune. As you advance around the table, The Dealer draws event cards as a sort of world map, while the actual encounters on the cards are fun little storyline choices or sometimes so-so Batman combat.

Baten Kaitos: the Gamecube game I've always regretted not owning, but I played a bit at a friend's house, and it's this wild real-time JRPG where you're drawing cards and casting them during combat. Maybe they're spells, maybe they're summons, maybe they're items. It's weird and hard to explain, but look up a video.

This year's Lost in Random: really leans into its weird dice themed kingdom in a way that's pretty cool. Dice decide your lot in life in the setting, and a die decides what kind of weapons/actions you take in combat, almost like a dice version of Baten Kaitos. Inventive stuff.

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech: a JRPG at heart, you choose your party and then you choose a loadout of cards, trying to synergize skills and statuses and all that stuff. You draw and discard your whole hand each turn, so each turn you try to pick out an appropriate set of cards for the situation at hand. Kudos to the devs for resisting the urge to make a Slay the Spire clone; there's no drafting, you're actually doing proper planned deck construction. Also the cards in your deck are old computer punch cards because they're all robots, and that's fucking brilliant.

Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, by comparison, is none of those. It has none of that inventiveness. Why even have the cards or dice, when they're just a shallow coat of paint on a tired JRPG formula? It feels like somebody wanted to make a super safe JRPG, and somebody else just had a bunch of static character portraits lying around from a mobile gacha game where the funding fell through, and they combined the two ideas into this game because they didn't have the budget for 3D character or 3D environment artists/animators.

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Efesell

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I feel like this is an idea Yoko Taro made for himself and is only mildly interested if it appeals to a lot of other people.

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imhungry

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My experience coming out of the demo was that the music seemed great even in that short time but everything else was kind of boring. The narrator definitely didn't seem to be giving a strong or interesting enough performance to carry the entire game by himself and the card hook is kind of just there.

There's hints of what could be an interesting plot so if reviews come out and suggest that there's more to it than meets the eye then I'll check it out but definitely not on launch.

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slax

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@bisonhero: I was thinking about Hand of Fate while playing this too. The single narrator, the cards etc. It feels like such a better realized version of this game, even if the batman-esque combat was just passable.

You make a lot of good points. I think for me if everything would've been snappier the demo would've been more fun but all your points about the plot and gameplay would still be issues in the full game.

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sunie

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The thing I'm really not hot on is that the card stats aren't the end all be all when it comes to battles. There seem to be dice rolls and other stat modifiers under the hood during fights that aren't surfaced at all, so to me it feels like a bit of an identity crisis. Either it wants to be a card game, or a JRPG, and it's not committing fully to either.

I did like the aestetic, the narrator and the general artwork. It's the opaque combat that will probably make me give this a pass.

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spiketail

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Kind of feel that @slax and @bisonhero have nailed all the +s and -s that I had while I went through the demo. Okay aesthetics making the game feel slow but this would all tie together nicely if this was back in the NES era of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. As it stands right now, I will wait for the reviews to let me know if this is just a classic JRPG or is this actually a classic JRPG train that has been hijacked by the Yoko Taro Gang.

But as for something that I think needs more discussion: The Narrator. More specifically, did you stick to the English voice actor, the Japanese voice actor or did you try both? I played through the demo with the JP narrator and liked the serious and bass-y voice they chose. Absolutely no idea if it's word-for-word accurate, but I like the tone it gives the demo. Started up again with the ENG narrator and went through the Queen's audience. Hoo-boy... felt like random guy pulled of the street. Far less interesting to listen to for me. Obviously, I didn't play through the entire demo again with the ENG narrator, but just the Queen's audience section felt very limping along.

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brian_

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I like the English narrator, but it's Todd Haberkorn, whose work I've been very familiar with for the better part of two decades, so I am perhaps just a bit bias.

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spiketail

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Thank you for the name, @brian_. Looked Mr. Haberkorn up on Wikipedia and unsurprisingly there is also a wiki page for VoC which then allowed me to look up the JAP narrator, Hiroki Yasumoto. Safe to say that they are both well known Anime/Video Games voice actors. Or at the least, you'd recognize some of the roles they covered.

Due to being an anime sub watcher, nothing on the Anime side for Mr. Haberkorn. Plenty for Mr. Yasumoto. For Video Games, it's not till Destiny 2: Forsaken (Drifter) and Genshin Impact (Razor) where I would say I know the voice of that character. And they are distinct characters that have a personality that is being spoken. Which makes it feel that the ENG Narrator is far more lifeless in the demo, but I'm also willing to give the demo a playthrough with Mr. Haberkorn. Might be I just enjoy the tone of the JAP narrator without comprehending what is being said.

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