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Review: Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden (Nintendo Switch)By Nayu At 27.08.2022 12:58

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The availability of a demo for Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is crucial because it offers the chance to try a game which, to be fair, is different from almost all other RPGs on the market. Not only are cards used to depict party members, they are used instead of 2D and 3D images that would ordinarily provide the scenes for all areas, those you are able to explore and not. This feels a pretty unique system that players will either love or loathe. After all, how can cards convey the magic and wonder of exploring dark forests, or human emotion without movement?

Playing the previous instalment is not necessary, and actually did not happen prior to this review, so comparisons and criticisms to the first game cannot be formed. Those who enjoyed Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars will presumably be familiar with the style and feel at home with the card system in Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden. Newcomers choosing this as their first Voice of Cards title need not fear not knowing what to do. The tutorial adeptly shows how the card system works, and how to choose between card choices to progress the story.

The settings are worth running through with handy options like deciding whether important words should be shown in red for emphasis or remain as normal as the other text, a feature that without range of difficulty options may make the game seem a bit harder to some. There is DLC to buy to change the type of deck used or the type of table on which the cards are laid, which are not absolutely necessary because alternate options are unlocked through natural progression. The narration voice can be in English or Japanese, and can even be turned off thanks to subtitles, but having it on adds an extra layer of storytelling that lends well to the tale.

The moment the true story begins is when the magic happens. Combining expected sound effects with an at times haunting music, adding in the eventually familiar voiced narration and the sheer beauty of the highly detailed cards that are have the same background pattern until they are flipped over when walked upon with a simple counter when in the overworld or in a dungeon (a few surrounding cards are also revealed) evoked a surprising amount of emotion during the 20-hour-long adventure. From mountains and beaches to the darkest dungeon in a city, there was always something new to look at, with walls and obstacles like trees bouncing having a no-go symbol when attempting to land on them.

Completionists will find immense satisfaction in turning over every single card on the board, although some areas are best explored after saving because great damage can be caused by choosing the wrong path, although equally treasure can be discovered through such exploration. Gold and items alike are found in chests or by defeating enemies, and can be bought at appropriate shops in settlements dotted around the world. Using the items in battle makes mundane healing items feel more incredible because they have a beautiful image on the card, and while there is a strict item limit, even the most inexperienced players need not fear running out of supplies apart from boss battles. There is a mini-game to play in each village or city that rewards with prizes, but it is not essential to completing the main tale, although it is possible to play online and be matched randomly with others.

Parts of the story are not necessarily told directly. There is a section in the menu where characters can be examined, and information about each one is revealed over the entirety of Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden. Reaching the point where the full story is told for favourite characters adds to the plot's depth. Every island that Barren and Laty visits has a Maiden and a guardian with their own story to share, with shocking revelations that radically alter how some characters are viewed. Naturally some of the pairs will resonate with the player more than others, depending on their personalities and their own struggles. Only the characters relevant to the area of gameplay can be in the active party, although closer to the end it is possible to choose who aids Barren and Laty in the final fight which was an unexpected welcome addition.

It might seem unusual to leave how Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden's battles run until the end of the review, but they are not an afterthought in the game. It is simply that all the other elements which in regular 2D and 3D may have less of a focus feel more significant in this title because everything is in card form, including the loading screen where a deck of cards can be shuffled multiple times. Battles commence with a single card saying an enemy appears, then the currently selected card table appears, with box for gems at the side, the main party at the bottom of the screen and the enemy cards above. Whichever character has a turn will display the skill cards they can use. Almost all actions require a use of gems, that can be increased through party members specifically creating gems on a turn and also one is added per new turn.

There are elemental weaknesses to consider, some enemies can be annihilated if the strongest attack is available, but in general remembering elements is not needed for ordinary battles. Attacks range from magic and using weapons, and combining the two. Speaking of combinations, either Laty with Barren or whichever maiden and her partner is in the party can partake in shared attacks that cost a lot of gems but are worth the use because of the strength behind the attack or the healing spell and also because the animations for the move is breathtakingly awesome! Capturing the moment on the Switch's camera allows a replay of those moves which feel unique to the personality of the pair involved. The enemy can, unfortunately, inflict status effects on characters which can be a real nuisance, but there are accessories that can be worn to grant immunity that prove vital in some areas.

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Final Score
The bittersweet themes of [i]Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden[/i], with brilliantly worked plot twists, a flawless battle system, and a captivating story all make it a near-perfect game. Perhaps the only downside is that it is not an overly long one, but the hope is there will be more instalments to what is proving to be a thrilling RPG series.

9

/10

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