Strategy Digital Card Game MMO - Duel opponents, friends and baddies in the main story campaign of this masterfully crafted digital card game set in a magical anime universe.

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Game overview

Shadowverse is a digital collectible card game that's free to play, and set in a fantasy anime universe. There are multiple game modes available, and all of them offers a satisfying blend of fun and strategy which is crucial for a card game. Shadowverse stands out from its competitors by introducing the evolve mechanic, allowing players to use a trump card to turn any match on its head, making the outcome unpredictable but less reliant on annoying RNGs.

The game also features a well polished but short main story campaign, on top of great graphics. It's also commendable that everything in the cash shop can be bought by in-game currency, awarded for simply playing more matches and ranking up. There are some downsides however, such as clunky controls, but it doesn't deter one from enjoying the solid gameplay.

➔ Main points:

  • Excellent card gameplay and mechanics that makes it one of the best card games today
  • Can be played on both PC and smartphones
  • Great graphics and presentation
  • Fair cash shop that allows you to purchase everything with in-game currency

Full review

New Kid On The Block

Gameplay will keep you hooked, duel after duel.

It's very often to see digital card games come and go in the genre these days, with many trying to replicate the formula that made games like Hearthstone a success. To its credit, Shadowverse has matched that by introducing a fun, fast paced card gameplay and more on its release back in October. Hailing from Japan, Shadowverse is a free to play digital collectible card game, and it looks like a crossover between Magic The Gathering meets anime. The game can be played across multiple devices, and originally made its debut on smartphones before making its way on to Steam. For a digital card game, Shadowverse will feel very familiar to new players who have dabbled in the genre before, and all the gameplay nooks and crannies are there as expected. Majority of the gameplay will come in the form of PVP duels against a single opponent, with options for ranked and unranked matches available. Players can also set up custom games with their friends and embark on main story campaign that's short but has a decent story, which also unlocks a few rare cards for your decks.

As far as card duels go, Shadowverse's formula to some extent follows that of Hearthstone. The first player of the round is decided at random, and the game begins by drawing cards, and playing follower, amulet or spell cards from your hand into the play area, depending on how much power orbs you have and how much they cost to play a card. At the end of each round, orbs are rest and increased by one, allowing players to play more powerful cards later on in the game. The objective is fairly simple, deplete the hit points of the opponent player, while taking out his line of followers in play as well. While the gameplay doesn't differ as much from other games, it is still very fun to play as there isn't a lot of time wasting and there is strategy involved, especially when dealing with the various deck classes and mechanics.

Evolving The CCG Genre

The evolve mechanic is a game changer

There are several deck classes to pick from based on in-game characters, and each has its unique perks in matches. Arisa for example, relies on multiplying follower cards while Rowan uses an overflow mechanic to power up followers before your opponents. On top of that, there are many more deck archetypes and hundreds of cards to pick from, so there's a big element of deck building and tweaking that will appeal to digital card players. The dynamics of the deck classes also works very well in PVP, often making matches unpredictable, but everyone has a fighting chance to win, which gives Shadowverse a more competitive edge when it comes to gameplay. What's also important to note is that the is a little less reliance on RNG, and players have a more direct say on the outcome of their matches based on their timing of when to play cards and what to do with them.

What's also important to note is that the is a little less reliance on RNG, and players have a more direct say on the outcome of their matches based on their timing of when to play cards and what to do with them

But what Shadowverse adds to the CCG formula is its Evolve mechanic, which players won't find in any other card game. During a match, players are able to evolve a follower card a certain amount of times, making the follower gain more powerful attack and defense stats. What the evolve mechanic does is throw in a useful "Gotcha" advantage, that actually flows very well in between the combat. It's also a good thing that it isn't very complicated, and it's actually one of the first things that players will get used to from the tutorial story missions. And speaking of story missions, Shadowverse's main story campaign is a great distraction for players who want to explore more of the lore. The story isn't award-winning, but players will certainly appreciate the well made cut-scenes that feature fully voiced dialogue.

Reap What You Sow

One of the things you'll definitely notice about playing Shadowverse is that the game rewards you very well for putting the time and effort into it. For starters, almost everything being sold in the cash shop such as card booster packs, pre-made decks and boons can be bought by real cash or in-game currency, and players can definitely get everything without paying a single cent, but through time invested. Shadowverse does a good job and rewarding loyal players as well, as there is daily log-in rewards on top of seasonal and festive freebies.

The biggest compliment for Shadowverse is that it wants players to master the game easily, and it truly feels like the more you play it, the better you become at it gradually. While this is often true for most games, Shadowverse executes this quicker, as it's card play is faster, making matches quick and finding opponents even quicker, thanks to its large player base from all over the world.

Tasteful Anime

The Anime style feels right at home in Shadowverse

While it may seem like stating the obvious, it must be said - Shadowverse would not have gotten much appeal from its grassroots players in the east without its anime aesthetics. It has to be said however, that the game does in fact look better with it. Characters and cards are very well designed in this anime formula, giving life to a world that while far fetched, still looks and feels believable, and is a good contrast to the exhausted fantasy themes we see in other card games. The game's graphics in general is nice and pretty to look at, so credit must go the art designers for a job well done. When it comes to presentation in other areas, there are some downsides. The UI for one, can be a nuisance to navigate and the PC version feels as if it was a direct mobile game port. What makes this worse is the clunky controls with a mouse and keyboard, and how the game constantly reminds you to "swipe" a finger to take actions, when we know it's not possible.

The Final Verdict

Whether you're a hardcore digital card game player or just a casual one looking for a new game to sink time into, it's very safe to say that Shadowverse is the game for you. It has hit the nail on the head on how to create a card gameplay that's simple, fast, strategic and fun on top of adding their own twist to the mechanic which makes it all the more competitive. Couple this with the fact that Shadowverse is a free to play game that allows players to buy everything in their store without paying a single cent is also a huge positive, considering how micro-transactions have ruined other card games in the past.

While there are issues such as the clunkiness of the controls which makes it feel like players are playing a mobile port, it does little to hinder the enjoyment that comes from gameplay across the variety of match modes available, and is friendly to a wide variety of players, from the experienced to the beginners. Shadowverse is one of the best digital card games out there at the moment, and is a must play.

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Graphics: animated artworks
PvP: matches or duels PvP
Cash shop influence: average
Exp rate: medium

The "evolve" mechanic makes Shadowverse stand out from the CCG crowd as it allows its players to use a trump card to turn any match on its head, making the outcome unpredictable but less reliant on the annoying RNG.

What We Liked..

Fast paced

Strategic fun

Excellent graphics and presentation


.. and what we didn't

Native resolution

Clunky controls

Fun factor
3.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5
For Real Fans

Review summary

  1. New Kid On The Block
  2. Evolving The CCG Genre
  3. Reap What You Sow
  4. Tasteful Anime
  5. The Final Verdict

What we liked..

Fast paced
Strategic fun
Excellent graphics and presentation

.. and what we didn't

Native resolution
Clunky controls
Graphics - 70 / 100
Fun factor - 70 / 100
Longevity - 70 / 100
Originality - 70 / 100
Community - 70 / 100

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