Arcanium - A Fresh Strategy Card Game To Conquer
Estimated Release: 2020
Platforms: PC and SteamOS + Linux
Being a fan of challenging battles I was drawn into Arcanium even after gathering notes for this preview. The game constructs a small team strategy experience in the form of a card battler and is no doubt one of the more fleshed out beta titles I've gotten my hands on this year.
While writing this preview I had a hard time picking which elements I wanted to point out to define Arcanium. Supercombo Games seamlessly mixes many great rpg elements to try and create challenging gameplay. The game has Slay The Spire run lengths (1 - 2 hours), and each action contributes to your chances to clear the map. The turn based combat has depth incorporating many choices and status effects. There are a number of hero's to unlock and other systems to enhance replayability. And finally, this story driven strategy game employs some lighter roguelike elements to keep the game entertaining.
There already are over a dozen heroes to unlock, and there will be 24 available at release. You select three of your available heroes at the start of the game and each hero has their own deck of cards. While this game is a card battler, there isn't much card management involved outside of this starting card set. In fact your heroes have equipment slots that can increase your heroes stats. As you gain experience your heroes unlock runes to tweak their starting deck of cards. Since your starting cards cannot be removed from your deck the runes meaningfully change the way a hero is played during the game.
Arcanium differs from many games by providing a Doom Counter. If you reach 10 Doom Tokens while trying to take over a region in the game, the game is over. Traditionally RPG games offer a route to revive downed characters, but under this mechanic you instead gain a Doom Token and your character is revived after a turn. Characters dying during a battle is a quick way to gain a Doom Tokens. There are other ways to gain tokens while playing out the map, and also ways to remove tokens.
There are 7 provinces on the game map, with what appears to be a final boss lair. There is a corruption spreading on the map. You're provided a turn count of when the corruption will get really bad, affecting nearly all the movement tiles on the map. The objective in the first province, Anador, requires you to beat some mid-bosses before laying a level boss to rest. Attempts to complete this province took about 1-2 hours, and the game quickly ramps up in difficulty keeping you fairly involved in each battle.
From the intro, its art style, its gameplay, every aspect of Arcanium feels refined. Developer Supercombo has shown a promising meld of features and objectives in the mission available in the beta. The card battler aspect allows for battles with subtle depth, featuring a lot of status ailments, minions, and formation swapping. The cards that Arcanium has shown could keep players busy for quite some time.
The beta has recently been updated to include a second province, new enemies, and more heroes to unlock. Arcanium's beta is available to all patrons of the ongoing Fig campaign to fund the game during development.