The product of Armour Games Studios, who also brought us ‘Gem Hunters’ and the mobile edition of ‘Sonny‘, Void Tyrant isn’t the first game to fuse deck building and dungeon crawling, but it does manage to do so with a massive amount of charm.
There’s been a slow down in what once seemed like the unending glut of RogueLites that were flooding the mobile scene, which has allowed for some of the more notable examples to rise to the top of the pile. Armour Games, who got their start in the Adobe Flash gaming scene, is an 8 person team who have been churning out excellent content for over a decade now, and their foray into the sub-genre of RogueLikes has turned out to be a surprising treat.
Graphically this game looks luscious and colourful, trading on a cute 2D, comic-book look that is reminiscent of high-end Flash games and makes the characters, environments and interfaces bristle with character. Monsters are unique, amusing and animated in a manner that makes them lively and colourful. The different planets you visit, whilst all stereotypes of the science fiction genre, have great little details and their own races/ecosystems to really make them feel interesting to explore, and card art is simple to understand at a glance whilst being attractive to look at. The game, which plays in portrait mode, is well laid out and has an interface that makes it very difficult to accidentally press the wrong option – a necessity when you are playing a card game or a RogueLike, and as this game is both it’s double important that they got it just right,
Sound design works heavily in the games favor, with a slow but eerie opening theme that contains a synth-beat to keep that sci-fi tone and different locals each receiving their own background themes to ensure that they feel different. Where the game shines however is in its sound effects, which are perfect. Taking off and landing your dropship feels like it has impact and moving cards, dealing and shuffling all have fantastic audio sampling that’s complimented by the card effects.
The narrative is a little light, but framework is there to draw the player into place and character-based flavor text for locations and scenarios really helps to build a sense of world. At the centre of the galaxy lies the Chaos Pyramid, from which the Eye of Chronos has been stolen. A vast, planet dwarfing black pyramid that hovers menacingly in deep space. Your tasked with collecting the keys necessary to enter, grabbing the Eye from the one who has stolen it and returning it to the pyramid’s core. It’s a neat hook that partners with the solid science fiction trappings to really make the title enjoyable.
Gameplay is pretty rich, and manages to avoid feeling repetitive in the manner of many RogueLites. You select a character class (starting with Warrior for free but being able to unlock 3 more alternative classes) who comes equipped with a standard deck of cards connected to their specialties. You then jump from the hub world, a single screen that you can populate with shops and other useful buildings to help you long-term, and select from 1 of 2 randomly assigned planets to start your journey on. Exploration sees you stepping out one screen at a time in first person, but using arrow icons to select from the paths available to you. None of these are mazes by any means and the usual route is a straight run to the end-goal, but exploring other avenues reveals chests, shrines, NPCs and whole mini dungeons to explore on your way to battle the world’s boss and take his key. Doing each of these adds more cards to your growing deck, making for a better character and levels you up, allowing for bonuses both passive for the character and directly applied to cards to make them more potent. Combat occurs frequently as most screens have a battle, and this is where the game’s systems really shine as the combat card mechanic could easily stand alone as a great little card game. Combat sees you take turns to draw and lay 1 card each from a deck of numbered cards in an effort to hit 12 or higher than your opponent. If you exceed 12 the round is immediately lost and your score counts as zero with every point that you have scored above your opponent counting as 1 attack on their HP bar, 12 adding a bonus critical hit too. You can also play as many cards from a hand of 5 drawn from your custom deck as your Energy meter will allow (successful hits build more energy) and this adds bonus effects, changes outcomes and creates some fantastic last minute win scenarios. Once a world is cleared you move on to choosing another from a choice of 2, and so on until the game bottlenecks to 2 ending scenario dungeons. Permadeath loses you all your cards and experience, but earns you sealed card packs based on your performance to throw into your next character’s starting deck. The game is free to play with optional purchasable content, and there’s no single unlock for all content, instead having additional characters and special deities who can assist your game all listed individually. Whilst the game can be enjoyed without any of these, it does feel balanced for at least the latter being unlocked.
Overall, Void Tyrant is a fantastic card game that would be amazing to play even if it weren’t tied into an interesting and well made RogueLite too. If you have any interest in either card games or rogue-style dungeon crawlers then we strongly recommend that you check it out and download a free copy for yourself. Perhaps play a few runs before you decide if you want to invest in the experience though.