There are days in the business of playing games and then writing about them where you're taken by surprise, where something new and exciting grabs the proverbials and raises an eyebrow. Be it a hauntingly beautiful isometric robot-destroyer or a first person teenage-maturity-em-up, there's quite often something new around every digitally distributed corner. On other days, like today, something is so very video games that even its name makes an unwitting statement.
The all-caps, subtitle-appended, z-ended DRAKERZ-Confrontation goes whole hog and combines our latest passion for trading cards with the fantasy battles between giant, mythical creatures. It's quite tactical, the small battlefield meaning the placement of your avatar - a "Drakos" - is key for flanking attacks and resource management. It's actually already playable, if in a woefully translated and somewhat buggy beta form, on Steam. The hook of the Kickstarter, meanwhile, is to integrate augmented reality with the free-to-play game and sell real-world cards for use with it. Hmm.
If you're thinking "well that video was slightly boring and most impenetrable" we're on the same page. It was interesting enough for me to go jam through the tutorial and have a shot at the first proper battle, however, and the game is much better at explaining itself than this. It'll be immediately familiar to anyone who's played a TCG before, featuring spells of immediate and permanent varieties, moments to respond with counters and limitations via slowly growing resource pools. The movement element adds significantly to the formula and is deeper than it may first appear. Mindlessly attempting flanking maneuvers is a good way to waste resources and set yourself up for more wily opponents moves. My defeat, captured forever above, came from allowing resource-providing mana orbs to build up on my sides. This let the AI (I'll never live the shame down) grab them all and unleash a devastating attack.
Games are slow, but that's no bad thing with the natural variance of a card game and the skill-testing nature of the movement. It does seem like the "Fury" system, a secondary resource that builds naturally and funds better attacks, means drawing the right cards at the right time is vital - but maximising the chances of that and minimising your opponent's becomes the talent, one I rather spectacularly failed to leverage. What I'm not so convinced of is the need for an AR element. Don't get me wrong, it's rad as all get out and the sort of thing we've all been rather dreamily imagining since we first watched Yu-Gi-Oh's ridiculous holograms, but they already have a solid game here. There's massive potential for expansion of the ideas, mechanics and themes, so I'd rather they put $30k down towards that than a gimmick that will wear thin in short order.
They're claiming it's the first of its kind, which seems a little odd given they reference Eye of Judgement in their own Kickstarter outro, plus the other attempts at AR games currently undergoing development. Not to mention, you know, somewhat bigger-than-cult hit Skylanders. I'd definitely recommend giving the beta an hour of your time if it sounds like your bag and investigating a little more into the Kickstarter if it proves fruitful. The pitch video, which is so unbelievably bad I'm not positive it isn't parody, is embedded below for your lampooning needs.