Before consoles existed and became the most popular form of indoors interactive entertainment, board and trading card games were all the craze. Today, the trading card game community is still strong and new players come to the fold everyday. Trading card games (TCG) or collective card games (CCG) never age because of their deepness and their outstanding replay value. Like RPG games, most TCGs let you buff yourself or your character, summon various allies and creatures, cast any number of spells, and defeat your enemies with cunning strategy; this gives you, the player, ultimate control over your play-through experience.
Shadow Era doesn’t do anything new with the formula and it has a number of downsides, but it gracefully delivers everything a compelling TCG has to offer. From single player, to multiplayer, Shadow Era gives you an easy-to-get-into experience, a great amount of replay value, and a lot of flexibility to tailor your own game experience.
Because Shadow Era doesn’t mess around with the TCG formula, the game is presented with a simple structure. Once you are pass the subscription/login screen, the game introduces you to the map; the map is the single player part of the game where you will duel a number of enemies in order to win gold and Shadow Crystals (both of which are the currency of the game).
The enemies you encounter have a small back story explaining why you need to defeat them. This gives you a good enough reason to confront them, but overall, the game lacks a real story. Although a story isn’t necessary in these type of games, the single player would be more appealing with a small story.
As you progress through the map, you will gain levels and gold. Each time you level-up, you will receive 25 Shadow Crystals. Once you accumulate 100 Shadow Crystals, you will be able to purchase a booster pack or a deck from the Merchant.
This is where the game’s flexibility and customization come into play. Once you get new cards (separately with gold or from booster packs and decks with Shadow Crystals), you will be able to go to the deck section and customize your own deck. Building your own deck will allow you to pick better cards, which ultimately means better spells, better allies, and so on. Deck building is a key factor of TCGs and Shadow Era delivers with authority.
Unfortunately, getting 100 Shadow Crystals takes a few play-throughs, especially if you are new to TCGs. If you wish to avoid all of that, you will have to purchase the booster packs and decks with real money. Sure, you get around 20 gold coins for each match you win, but separate cards cost 200 to 450 gold coins depending on rarity.
For all your efforts, there is very little reward. This is also very upsetting when you move to the multiplayer section of the game. You start out with 31 cards in your deck, but in order to play online, your deck must contain 40 cards. If you do the math, you’ll need quite a bit of gold.
Aside from these few nuisances, Shadow Era carries a good graphical experience. The most important part of the game are the cards, which are beautifully designed. The art in them is top-notch — they are so good, you could confuse them with the competition’s cards. This alone would make any avid TCG player appreciate Shadow Era’s potential.
When it comes to the actual game’s graphics however, it sadly doesn’t do the game nor the cards justice. Because this game is not specifically made for the Mac, this is not necessarily a big issue, but it would have been nice to have better graphics that take advantage of the Mac’s power. The upside is that the leading competitor doesn’t have a Mac version to begin with, so Shadow Era, good graphics or not, is still a great game.
Ultimately, that is what everything is all about: the game. The most important part of a TCG is the gameplay. From the way it handles to how fun the game is, Shadow Era is an outstanding TCG experience. When you play your first duel, the game does an amazing job at teaching you exactly what to do. Within the first play-through, you will become very familiar with how the game works.
After that, the game highlights the cards you are able to interact with, which will help if you ever forget the rules. The card’s descriptions are simple and to-the-point, and they don’t contain a lot of keywords you may not be familiar with, thus letting you know exactly what your next move will be.
Shadow Era is fun, period. If you are a TCG enthusiast or a new comer, you will have a fun time collecting gold, Shadow Crystals, customizing your deck, and bringing all of that back to the battlefield. The game can be tough with you at times, but with persistence and strategy, you can tackle all your enemies.
Thankfully, beating more difficult rivals does make up for the lack of reward. Another interesting bit to take into consideration is the way you summon any type of card. In other TCGs you would count on Mana to use as a resource, but in Shadow Era, you must sacrifice any card currently in your hand. Those sacrificed cards will then become the way you are able to summon other cards. This gives the game a very on-edge sense of strategy. The rush you get while choosing which precious card to get rid of is like no other.
All in all, Shadow Era is fun, addicting, and has tremendous replay value. The craving you get for new cards keeps you coming back for more, and the cross-platform multiplayer adds even more entertainment to the game’s fun factor. Let’s not forget that the multiplayer allows you to chat with your enemy as you play. This is great because the Shadow Era community is solid, and you will undoubtably make friends as you play through the multiplayer. If you can get pass the graphics, and the high cost of new cards (which you should), Shadow Era is a must have for both TCG lovers and new comers alike.
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