Review – Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle

I first played the free-to-play card game Shadowverse when it was released on Steam in July 2016. Since then, I’ve logged tens of hours of gameplay with the game’s two-player free-for-all mode, and purchased its starter and paid-for expansions with my own money. I’ve never gotten bored of the battle mechanics or the game’s engrossing story, and I’ve loved exploring and unlocking new cards. As such, I decided to write a review.

In Shadowverse, players choose to play as a mage or a warrior. The former gains access to the powerful spells and card combos available to mages, while the latter can wield the powerful swords of the legendary heroes of the past. But while the game is highly diverse, there isn’t much magic in the world. This makes it difficult to see the full potential of Shadowverse.

Shadowverse is a free to play TCG (Trading Card Game) that is currently in Closed Beta. It is a fantasy card game in which you summon and play as monsters to battle other players in a 1v1 duel. You can get a full view of your deck by clicking the tab on the top right of your screen. Shadowverse has a competitive aspect to the game, where each player must beat their opponent’s top card in order to win. The game has some great features, such as the ability to save decks to your account, a deck builder, and a neat tutorial system.

I have to admit, the behemoth that is Japanese developer Cygames has me amazed. Sure, creating mobile games with gacha mechanisms is their bread and butter. When they decide to create a game for consoles alone, though, they invest a lot of work into it, converting their current mobile brands into full-fledged console experiences with few to no microtransactions. Not to mention the good graphics and playability. One example is their collaboration with Arc System Works on the fantastic fighting game Granblue Fantasy: Versus. Now, history repeats itself with Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle, a surprisingly excellent card-based RPG.

Please don’t strike this pitiful posture in school.

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle should have been a flop in a normal world. Is there going to be a video game adaptation of an anime based on a free-to-play gacha-style card game? Based on such an easy target of a concept, any other developer/publisher team would have produced a basic console version packed with microtransactions and loot boxes. This isn’t the case with this game. There was a lot of work put into it, whether it was the excellent instructional system, the rich in-game economy, or the long duration. There’s also the fact that, although not amazing (or even somewhat intriguing), there is a narrative here, replete with chapters, sidequests, people to interact with, and a lot of above-average voice acting… in English!

The setting of Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is really very excellent. It’s not the absolutely absurd cliché of going to a school dedicated exclusively to teaching kids how to play whatever game is now the latest fad, like one of the many Yu-Gi-Oh spinoffs that have been produced over the years. You’re a typical kid who has just transferred to a prestigious (but typical) boarding school. You learn about the Shadowverse game from one of your classmates, who tells you everything about the rules, the significance of the game, and even offers you your first deck. This everything takes place after class, but without the time restrictions that the Persona games are known for.

Review – Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle

The fact that these matches are so fast is one of my favorite aspects about them.

There isn’t much to do in the overworld except the absolute minimum of exploring, chatting to NPCs, and interacting with a few terminals to purchase new cards and booster packs, but I appreciate that the creators went to the trouble of including these RPG aspects in the first place. As a consequence, rather than seeming like a cheap cash grab, Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle came off as a higher-quality card game akin to the unjustly underappreciated Game Boy gem Pokémon Trading Card Game. Unfortunately, although the overworld graphics are beautiful, they have a sluggish framerate.

You’re probably wondering what the heck Shadowverse is right now. That was a question I had when I first started playing this game. It’s a virtual card game inspired by Yu-Gi-Oh and Hearthstone, in broad and simple terms. Because its rules and deck sizes stress rapid assaults and tactics to overwhelm your opponents in a timely way, its matches are nothing near as lengthy as those seen in Magic: the Gathering, typically lasting just a few minutes. The primary goal is to bring your opponent’s life points down to zero. Each player begins with a total of twenty life points.

Review – Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle

In this school, everyone plays Shadowverse… but only after class. In this room, we have to be responsible.

In this game, there are just two kinds of cards. The Shadowverse’s version of a normal monster card is called “Followers.” Each one has an attack stat, a defense/life stat, a cost, and a special ability. Attack and life are self-explanatory, but a follower has the additional advantage of counter-attacking any enemy strike, ensuring they will never stay still during your opponent’s turn. The cost of a card is determined by the number of play points needed to play it. At the start of a match, you only have one point, but with each new round, you will gain an additional point on top of your previous limit, enabling you to summon even stronger cards later in the game. Unless it has an ability that permits it, a newly summoned follower cannot attack in its initial turn.

After a few rounds, you’ll be able to develop a set number of your cards, increasing their stats and perhaps unlocking new abilities. You may also utilize the same cost pool of “spell/amulet” cards in combat to trigger specific passive or active abilities, such as inflicting additional damage to an enemy follower or sacrificing a few life points to draw a few more cards. Unless a ward-type follower is called, which directs all attacks towards it, you may always attack your opponent’s health points directly. As a consequence, such cards generally have stronger defensive stats.

Review – Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle

Hello, kids! Remember when they were referred to as “booster packs” rather than “loot boxes”?

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle does a fantastic job of quickly and thoroughly explaining these concepts, as well as simplifying the tedious and time-consuming process of building decks when you’re a beginner. As long as you have the required cards, you may gather deck presets that enable you to build them quickly. The good thing about these deck codes is that after you’ve obtained one, the game will notify you anytime you’ve acquired a card that’s needed to construct it, whether it came from a booster pack or is available as a solo card in one of the school’s shop terminals.

I appreciate that booster packs are inexpensive and that you get a new set of cards every time you defeat an opponent in combat. Because matches are so fast and interesting, it never seems like you’re mining for cards. Despite the fact that I previously mentioned that I like the idea that Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle includes a full-fledged campaign, the narrative was the one aspect of the game about which I cared the least. I would often pause my progress in order to fight a few more NPCs around the boarding school.

Review – Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle

Have you noticed the card with the shield-like aura? That’s a ward, which means the attacker must attack it first before attacking your life points.

Overall, against all odds, Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle turned out to be a solid card-based RPG. It features a long campaign, a large number of cards to acquire, and, most importantly, a fast-paced and engaging gameplay loop that had me hooked for hours. Sure, the graphics might have been a little better, and I didn’t care for the storyline (though I appreciated the fact that the creators bothered to include one in the first place), but I had a lot more fun with it than I expected from a console spinoff based on an anime inspired by a gacha card game.

 

The overworld visuals are cute, but the framerate is sluggish. The card game’s graphics are simple, but they result in a significantly higher framerate.

It’s not the most complicated of card games, so it’s simple to pick up the basics. I would have preferred a greater focus on touch controls, which are at best half-baked.

Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle not only has an excellent music, but it also has a lot of (dubbed) voice acting. It’s also not half terrible!

This game might have easily turned out to be a catastrophe. That wasn’t the case, however. The narrative of Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is uninteresting to me, but the game’s calm atmosphere and gameplay loop made it a great match for a handheld like the Switch.

Final Score: 8.0

On Switch, Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle is now available.

On Switch, the game was reviewed.

The publisher sent me a copy of Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle.

As an example:

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Look at them!

​Shadowverse is a well-designed mobile card game with visual novel-like gameplay. I had heard many good things about the game and wanted to give it a try. It took me a little while to get into the game, but eventually I was able to understand all the mechanics. With the in-game rewards system, I was able to get some of my favorite cards at a very cheap price. I also liked the fact that you can choose between two card factions: Guardians and Alchemists. The cards they offer are really interesting, and I spent a lot of time thinking about which cards to get and how to get the best of them.. Read more about shadowverse champion’s battle english and let us know what you think.

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