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Runespell: Overture Review

Review; Jul. 30, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Edward Kaczynski
A unique blend of fantasy... and playing cards

I can say it -- I’m pleasantly surprised.

Card games are a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have brilliant games like Magic: The Gathering or Star Wars: The Customizable Card Game (now, sadly defunct), and then on the other, a whole slew of Pokemon and Pokemon rip-offs which I refuse to play because (among CCG players) I’m a curmudgeonly old man who hates everything that was released after 1998.

Runespell: Overture Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

So, my tastes changed -- which is to say, I got older and wanted to date women, and the women tended to run away when the words “Magic deck” left my mouth. But I still itched to play some sort of card game, so I tried my hand at traditional ones -- poker, blackjack, Texas hold ‘em, canasta, etc. The only problem with traditional card games is that -- by and large -- they’re only really exciting when you’re playing for some sort of stake -- usually money. And while playing with your friends can lead to some good times, mistakenly believing that you have some sort of actual skill and then playing with actual card players usually deflates that notion.

Runespell: Overture is a unique approach to traditional playing cards -- a story, a historical fantasy setting, historical fantasy inspired characters (for said setting, obviously), tongue-in-cheek writing, and a game mechanic that is (quite frankly) one of the more unique uses of playing cards I’ve encountered. It found a way to make normal playing cards interesting. 

The game throws you right in the midst of the action -- you’re a changeling with no memory of who or how you came to be. You get into fights with barbarians and monsters along the world map, using poker-based combinations of cards to deal damage. You can steal opponent’s cards to assist in making a 5-card combo (where rarer combinations yield more damage), as well as use spells, abilities, and companions to bolster your attacks and defenses. The concept is brilliantly simple, but the potential is infinitely complex. 

Some enemies require special techniques in order to defeat, bolstering their defenses against certain kinds of attacks. Others just have a boatload of hit points, requiring you to be quick, smart and lucky in order to defeat them. Added to that, NPCs offer quests for cash and rewards, which can be used in order to purchase new equipment, abilities, and companions.

Despite this, however, the game has a few faults -- namely lack of multiplayer. Co-op might be a bit difficult, but this game screams for some sort of versus multiplayer mechanic that is, sadly, not there.

Beyond that, however, there’s very little to complain about -- the writing feels a bit forced at times, but otherwise, Runespell: Overture is a solid title. The game play is, regrettably, going to appeal to a very select audience, but that said -- with a reasonable $9.99 price tag -- it’s absolutely worth an impulse buy for the casual gamer.


Review Score

Not Rated by ESRB

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