Void Tyrant Review08 Jul 2019 0
Void Tyrant Review
Released 27 Jun 2019
There is no shortage of card-based games on iOS (or Android). From straight up trading card games, to games that use the randomness of card drawing in some aspect of its design, there’s just something universally satisfying about drawing from a deck and taking your chances. In many ways, Void Tyrant isn’t that much different than many of its contemporaries. But like the Uncharted series on PlayStation consoles, Void Tyrant is more concerned with perfecting well-worn design features than innovating them completely.
A mysterious chaos pyramid has appeared at the edge of the solar system. It’s locked, its keys scattered across disparate planets, each granting both power and madness to their inhabitants. You must gather the keys, enter the deadly structure, and put an end to whatever is causing the malevolence. It’s a story that is both familiar, but resonant enough to climb onboard with quickly.
The “you” in this game is a character that gets randomly rolled at the start of each run. They are a mix of various races, classes, and passive attributes that make each character hold a specific sort of uniqueness each time. Sometimes, these variables can change some interactions with characters or environments you’ll encounter in your run. If you draw a race that can see in the dark, then wandering off of the beaten path into a spooky cave won’t be ominous for you.
The act of traversing these worlds in search of chaos keys is standard first person RPG fare. Every step takes you into a new encounter, which could be a monster, trap, or treasure. Every once in a while, you’ll have the option to turn left or right, but rarely do these paths branch farther than a single screen.
When you do stumble across a monster, that’s when the signature blackjack-style combat goes down. You and your enemy have a deck of 24 cards, each with a number of 1-6. While drawing, your goal is to get as close to 12 as possible without going over. The side who is closest wins, and gets an amount of attacks against their enemy equal to the difference between both numbers. Pretty simple stuff.
The many ways this basic concept gets modified is where combat really shines. Each combatant has another hand of cards full of spells and abilities. These either take effect when you win a round, or immediately. They can alter the count of your draw, add extra attacks if you win, put status ailments on your enemy, etc. Using all of these flairs strategically is when Void Tyrant feels most like an RPG. Analyzing your draw total, how many cards you’ve left to pull, and where a useful ability might fit into that equation is a rewarding exercise. The sort of risk taking aspect of playing around the draw is rewarding as well.
That said, combat can also feel arduous. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in minutes long stalemates with enemies. Making the “right” decisions can put you in a holding pattern for what feels like an endless amount of turns. Especially against bosses, you could spend just as much time sticking and moving around the enemy as it did to get all the way to them.
That and the randomness of the game can truly feel unfair at times. More often than not, enemies that are supposed to be tough seem to always draw favorably, and you always seem to come up short. This isn’t to say that the numbers are being actively fudged, though. It’s more to draw a parallel to Void Tyrant’s casino counterpart. Just like you may feel like you’re caught in a bad card patch at a 21 table, you can feel that same bad energy against a big, icy, armored beetle.
Another pretty demoralizing thing can be playing the free to play version of this game. It’s heavily ad supported, which means almost everything will involve watching an ad to take part of. Getting bonuses from spirits - little npcs that grant you bonus currency, card packs, and extra lives - involves watching an ad first. Journeys on planets can be impeded every few steps by ads. It’s truly an annoying experience.
More than that, there are parts of the game that suddenly began to appear after I upgraded to the premium version. Side paths that used to just be a single treasure chest or monster encounter suddenly became doorways to whole new mini dungeons. I can’t confirm whether I passed a particular in-game threshold to open these up, or if it was a premium exclusive feature.
Many of the variants for your hero character is locked behind lots of grinding. Certain quests have to be completed before unlocking new classes or races. These quests can consist of killing a certain number of creatures or finding a number of a specific item. Many of these quests can only be done on specific planets, and can’t be done in one run. Also, you can’t just replay a specific planet without either cancelling your run prematurely, or finishing it to the end. You’ll play as a human knight for a large bulk of your early experience, which feels like a very narrow view of what this game has to offer.
If you can stick with it (and are willing to drop the approximately $5/£6 for the premium version) then Void Tyrant may very well be your next favorite iOS RPG. It’s clever, if not ground-breaking, take on the blackjack combat trope, as well as fun utilization of rogue-like mechanics, makes Tyrant a unique experience on the platform. It bogs itself down with the pacing of its free to play ads and the natural ebb and flow of card-based randomness. It also hides a big swath of its customizability behind arduous grinding. But if you have time to grind, Void Tyrant is worth the investment.