I’ve never been a fan of collectible card games but I am a big fan of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series so the task of reviewing this iPad strategy title was an interesting and welcome one. Would the endless intricacies of a CCG counterbalance my love for the Assassin’s Creed universe or could Ezio’s mates make me understand what makes these card games so appealing to so many?
Recollection is covered with the now-familiar Assassin’s Creed visual styling; multiple shades of pale greys and the odd dash of red and black let you know that this is closely related to your previous animus-induced adventures. The gameplay style couldn’t be more different, though. There’s no action here, aside from that which we can imagine from the images and descriptions listed on the cards. There are no voice overs or acting either, exposition is achieved through little written interludes before missions.
Fortunately, beneath the renaissance setting and misty romance of those sneaky assassini, we have an extremely well balanced game. It was a genuine surprise to me just how engaging, accessible and entertaining this game was.
You draw from a deck of cards (referred to as “memories”) which feature different agents, actions and sites and place them within one of three staging areas. The aim is to increase your influence in each area until you fully control two of the three. Each card has a cost to playing it and measure of how effective it will be to your total influence. Your opponent, which is either AI in the decent single player mode or human in the well-populated online mode, can counteract your cards with their own.
Each card usually takes half a day to play in game time, with a constantly progressing line sweeping through the level to indicate the passage of time. Some cards can be combined or played as surprises and they charge almost instantly. Of course, there’s an in-game store where you can pay your way to better decks of “memories” but there is a slower upgrade route available by simply playing the game.
The only part of the game which wasn’t easily described to a newcomer like me was the building of your deck of cards. You purchase them using earned or paid for credit and receive a random selection of “memories” but you’re supposed to tune and tweak the hand of cards, called “sequences” you take into missions with you. This is a complicated process that really could have benefitted from some extra tutorial explanation. I’m still not entirely sure I’m using my cards as effectively as I could be because it’s never properly explained.
- Extremely well balanced and involving.
- The real time aspect adds a degree of urgency.
- Succeeds at making a niche genre hugely more accessible.
- Tutorials could go a little further.
- Some of the written exposition is a little boring.
In short, this is a great introduction into the CCG genre and one which I found immensely enjoyable, even as a complete novice. The Assassin’s Creed Styling is superfluous, for sure, but it is no doubt helping to raise the profile of the game and that keeps the opportunity for online opposition plentiful. Highly recommended.