Review — Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars deals a fantastic hand
Play your cards right and riches will be yours.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is a card-based role-playing game on the Nintendo Switch that simulates classic tabletop card games. A young hero and their companions set off on a quest to slay the dragon that's been terrorizing countless citizens across the land, each with their own motives. The promise of riches, vengeance, and the thrill of being an adventurer drive your party across towns and islands, completing quests and staving off monsters along the way.
The game is a living, breathing, tabletop experience, complete with a Game Master that narrates your journey as it unfolds. While it provides an incredibly engaging strategy loop, it's missing some quality-of-life features that would put the game on another level.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
Bottom line: Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars takes you on an epic journey through countrysides and dungeons with unique features. The game is just as charming as it is immersive, providing an unforgettable experience on the Nintendo Switch.
- Immersive presentation
- Witty writing and world-building
- Side activities
- No auto skip feature
- Missing quality-of-life features
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Square Enix. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars What's good
In Voice of Cards, the entire world is made of, well, cards, save for the player piece used to navigate among them. As you move across uncharted territory, more cards reveal themselves. Random events and monster encounters hide around every corner, followed by a smooth transition to the combat board. Players can select skill actions for their character cards to exercise against foes, using gems that serve as battle points or rolling die to calculate damage.
|Category||Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars|
|Title||Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars|
|Genre||Role-playing, simulation, strategy, communication|
|Game Size||2.4 GB|
|Play Time||10+ hours|
|Players||Single-player, multiplayer elements|
What first struck me about this game was the Game Master. His soothing voice permeates the entire game, narrating all dialogue with an appropriate amount of emotional delivery and commenting on your victories in battle. The presence of the Game Master is crucial here since he's responsible for rolling die to calculate damage, drawing random Happenstance Cards that give your party and foes buffs and debuffs at random, and paying out your winnings at the end of battle. To play this game with the sound off would be to take away half of the experience, and it's this atmosphere that makes you feel like you've really got these cards sprawled out before you on the table.
You get sucked in even more thanks to the environments, which range from sprawling hills to coastal towns, with dungeons and deep forests in between. Some areas, like dark caves, prevent you from moving forward multiple spaces, as your "vision" is obscured. When you're low on health and can't jump to the area's exit, these restrictions place an added pressure that feels palpable, especially when you must traverse through an area within a set number of spaces. The added elements to various environments never become stale, as the game offers a healthy mix of them throughout and it never feels forced.
Implementing strategy involves customizing your party and skills you'll use in battle, and it's a joy to do. The gems that appear in a beautiful velvet-lined box on your combat board serve as battle points, which can help bolster your attacks with stronger moves that require more gems to execute. Each player can use different special, physical, or elemental attacks, which different monsters may have weaknesses or resistances against.
Skill alone won't pull you through battles, however, as you often have to roll six- or 10-sided die to calculate how much damage your moves will do. All of these elements together, along with all the minutae like learning the elements monsters resis or when to pass to generate more gems drew me in to the point that hours sometimes went by unnoticed.
For adventurers who want to take a break from dragon hunting, there are quite a few things you can do to mix up the gameplay. One thing is exploring and finding scraps of paper alluding to the various locations of treasure — provided you can decode the clues. These treasure "maps" encourage exploration, which allows you to imagine what this land would look like in real life, all while fattening your pockets.
Another fun pastime of mine involved sauntering over to the Game Parlor in each town to challenge the receptionist to a game of cards. Wait — a card game within a card game? Why, yes! This card game is easy to learn, and becomes harder to master as new skills and events are added. The best part is that once you've completed a game, you can play the game with up to four nearby friends using one system or four systems, depending on how many players own the game themselves. Winning games within the campaign can provide you with customization options for your dice, cards, and table, allowing you to tailor the game to your taste.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars What's not good
The game isn't without its shortcomings, though. As much as I enjoyed the Game Master's voice, I wished I could let narrated sections of the game run automatically without having to flip through each card. It's a feature I found to be extremely helpful in other great games that feature a lot of reading, like The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. My poor controller's A button certainly felt my frustration by having to manually advance to the story laid out by the narrator, especially when certain chapters got tense. It's something I'd love to see in an update, but I'm doubtful it'll be implemented.
Having to remember how each element impacts each enemy can get kind of strenuous after a while.
If it's one thing that modern Pokémon games got right, it's providing information on type resistances once you've learned about them once. As I moved on through Voice of Cards and figured out which elemental moves certain enemies are weak or resistant to, however, I was not given this information anywhere for me to reference later. Enemies have description cards, with backstory cards that you can unlock after encountering them a set number of times. There could have been an additional card added with stats like weaknesses, resistances, attack/defense range, and more, but it never materialized. Having to remember how each element impacts each enemy can get kind of strenuous after a while, especially since it's not always obvious based on an enemies' appearance.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars Should you play it?
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is an unforgettable experience based on the presentation alone. It's the perfect game for anyone who wants a tabletop RPG to play on the go. The short chapters lend themselves to the game's pick-up-and-play nature, adding tons of value. Listening to the Game Master tell an epic tale was something I looked forward to, and the environments always managed to pulled me in. Every time I picked the game up, I felt as though I was traversing dense forests and damp caves myself.
Though I did have some gripes about the game's quality-of-life features, I wouldn't say they're deal-breakers. Some players might want to immerse themselves even more by physically writing down stat sheets for monsters and party members, but I wasn't one of them. Still, I think that if anything, you should definitely check out the free demo for this game on the Nintendo eShop to check out the fun gameplay for yourself. If you end up getting hooked like I did, you won't regret your purchase.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
Bottom line: Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars takes you on a surprisingly immersive journey through vast lands, with witty companions to accompany you. If you enjoy tabletop card RPGs but hate setting them up, this game is perfect for you.