Runespell: Overture Review
Runespell: Overture Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Mystic Box
Pub: Mystic Box
Release: July 20, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-768p

Of course, aside from the traditional playing cards (ace of hearts, four of spades, etc.), you also can bring a deck of up to eight Power Cards into battle. Here, the game resembles Magic: The Gathering. Power Cards allow you to use buffs and debuffs, summon allies, and cast Runespells, which are your more traditional RPG spells like thunder, nature, and fire. Taking damage or dealing damage fills your RP (Rage Points) meter, and every Power Card uses a set amount of RP. Also, there is a Fear spell you can use to drain your opponent's RP.

During each turn, you will be able to make three moves. Each move will allow you to either move a card or combo, play a completed hand to make an attack, or activate a Power Card. There are a couple exceptions to this three-move limit. You can cast a Fate spell, which will give you extra moves, or you can pass on your remaining moves and skip right to your opponent's turn.

Runespell: Overture Screenshot

This game is almost purely built around this card battle combat system. With that in mind, the developers could have easily tacked on sub-par artwork and a clichéd RPG storyline and have been done with it. Instead, they put some serious love into these aspects.

First of all, the art style is very effective. During battle, you will see an animated 3D model of your character and your opponent. While these are superbly designed and animated, they are the only polygons you'll see in the game. But that's not a bad thing; the rest of the art in the game is expertly hand-painted. The character cards look great, and even the backgrounds in the camps you'll visit are exceptionally well done. There are a few animations added to the scenery here and there—mostly just details like falling snow and dancing flames—and those meld with the art style perfectly.

Second, the story is actually pretty intriguing. Sure, there are a few clichés here and there and the dialogue is cheesy in a couple places, but overall, it's a fantastic story. Instead of a fabricated fantasy world, it's actually set in Medieval England, though fantasy elements like magical spells and immortal warriors are common.

Third, the audio is also fairly well done. It's certainly not the game's strong point, but the music is appropriately epic. Hearing the clank of swords coupled with the traditional "shuffling" sound found in many PC card games is actually very satisfying. It keeps you firmly planted in both the fantasy world and the strategic playing card world.

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The only real complaint I have—besides the non-scrolling map mentioned earlier—is that the game has no multiplayer mode. PvP battles in Runespell would have been an excellent addition, as trying to sabotage your friends' hands could lead to some extremely deep strategic gameplay.

Tactical RPGs and Solitaire might not sound like they should mix well, but Runespell: Overture is surprisingly addictive. Even when you lose a match, it's usually only by a small margin, giving you that "I know I can win this next time" drive to play just one more round. With a fairly robust campaign and a bunch of achievements to earn, Runespell holds its own as a card game. There's even a New Game Plus option so you can play again with all the Power Cards you've earned (with the exception of character cards.) Is it worth $10 for the download? Absolutley.

One word of warning, though: If you install the game on your office computer, don't expect to get very much work done.

By Joshua Wirtanen
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.9
Graphics
Runespell doesn't have much for polygons, but it does have a great art style. Characters, cards, and backgrounds are lovingly hand-painted.
4.1
Control
Basic point-and-click controls. If you've ever played a card game on a computer, you'll jump right in.
3.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are no voiceovers, but the music is appropriate and the combination of RPG-like sword-slashing and the familiar Solitaire card-shuffling sounds blend well.
4.5
Play Value
For $10, the five-plus hour campaign alone is a great value. You'll most likely come back for a New Game Plus to earn the achievements and Power Cards you may have missed, or maybe just to experience more of the addictive combat. The only complaint: no multiplayer.
4.1
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Battle your opponents with Poker/Yahtzee combinations.
  • Unlock special attacks with collectable Power Cards.
  • An online leaderboard and more than 20 in-game achievements available.
  • Recruit allies amongst enemies and friends alike.
  • Unlock new battle locations through questing.
  • Defeat more than 30 unique monsters, each with a unique cardset and attack style.
  • Mix of beautiful hand-painted backdrops and evocative 3D characters.


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