By Joseph Puntschart / April 6th, 2017
|Genre||Free-to-Play Card Battle/Strategy|
|Platform||PC (via Steam), Mobile|
|Age Rating||PEGI 12|
Free-to-play games are quite odd titles to review, as more often than not they have an economic “long tail,” so to speak. This means that the title will make more money over time for the developer than if it was a full-priced console release, where most of the money made is in the first few months of release. In the case of Faeria, this title already had a strong following from its time in Steam Early Access, which gave it an advantage over others in the genre. Now it has been released as a full product for gamers to enjoy as a free-to-play release, with optional microtransactions.
It becomes immediately apparent that Faeria is a looker. The hand-drawn graphics look lovely on the PC monitor, the number of vibrant colours look very appealing, and it is clear that a sizable budget went into this game. There is also a lot of detail on the characters within the various cards, which is a very nice touch. The music shows this too, though I find the music to be a bit generic and it gets rather samey after a while. The atmosphere created is a very enthralling Western fantasy world, with mythical creatures, knights and medieval kingdoms being a recurring theme. It’s a nice welcoming vibe to this title and offers a unique atmosphere, which helps the title stand out on Steam against other card battlers with similarly distinctive atmospheres (like Monster Monpiece).
The game plays on a grid over a lake where your task is to drain all the life points of the “God” on the other end of the board by attacking them with your creatures. You can do this by placing landmasses on the lake in order for your party members to cross, while your opponent tries to do the same to you. Various enemies can be utilised by both parties, and it is these enemies that act as the cards. For each turn you can do one of the following: build two plains, build one elemental spawn point (more on this later), add a card to your deck or add 1 MP, with the latter allowing you to summon new enemies to fight for you when you save up enough points. Going back to the elemental spawn point, there are four elements (fire, ice, earth and water) which, when placing them down, enables you to spawn new characters that can only be spawned on these titles, allowing for an added layer of strategy.
The more cards you obtain in the game, the more you can customise your deck. Cards also have effects and bonuses, allowing the possibility of gaining advantages in battle. The card strategy in this game is fun. The helpful tutorials mean the game is accessible, there are a huge number of cards that can be placed in your deck allowing for a wide range of strategies, and there are several approaches that the player can take in each match. The game has competitive potential and a lot to offer players that are prepared to put the time into it. As a free-to-play game there is no added financial barrier, meaning anybody can download and play the game on Steam.
There is a sizable amount of single player content available to help new players get used to the gameplay, which is good. Within the five hours I spent with this game, I was able to get to grips with the game’s systems fairly easily, and I would assume if I spent more time I would eventually master it. Alongside versus matches against computers, there are also fairly easy puzzles which can be solved. It’s worth doing the single player mode for the experience as you will need to do this when you go into one of the two online modes.
There is a Battle Mode, where you can prepare your deck of cards and enter online multiplayer matches with a randomly selected player. There is also Pandora Mode, which is also an online mode but with the added challenge of having to pick out your deck of cards from scratch prior to going online and having to improvise with this setup. The element of unpredictability is a really nice idea, and adds much needed variety to the game’s modes, however this comes at a price. You will need to exchange gold and gems in order to obtain Pandora Coins, which is what you will need to enter this mode, meaning you will not be able to play this mode as frequently as the regular battle mode.
In this game, there are two currencies – gold and gems. The gold is free, and you can get it via the completion of various in-game challenges and stages. Gems however are obtained with real world money. The prices are okay, however they also include gems that are added on as a bonus so it is not too bad. These purchases are entirely optional, however this game is designed so that purchasing gems will make the process significantly shorter. Saving up gold means it will take longer to get the items and packs you want, so really it is up to you. I am not really a fan of this model however as most of the game’s packs and bonuses can be obtained with gold. (The Mythic Chest is one exception to this.) It is passable, however if you do not like free-to-play titles this release will do nothing to change your mind.
Adding on to that, I was also not a fan of the amount of DRM attached to this game. There is the third-party EULA agreement that is required to play the game (which I assume is Denuvo or something similar), and then you have to make an account with the publisher in order to play the game once installed. I personally find this level of DRM intrusive and an odd inclusion in a free-to-play title. It’s not a deal breaker as I believe there may be a legitimate reason why the account system is there, (The best Faeria player per month will win $3,500 in real life money, so I’d wager some kind of external verification is required for prospective winners of that money to be able to claim it.) but it’s worth noting for those that care about DRM restrictions as this is something that can cause controversy with PC releases.
To conclude, I liked Faeria’s core gameplay, which is the most important thing. The game being free-to-play is a double-edged sword. While there is no financial barrier to entry, folks may be put off by the restrictions put in place caused by the inclusion of gems, which is a shame. If you’re a fan of strategy-based card games, Faeria deserves to be given a shot as there is a fairly deep game here.
Game is free to play, however the publisher supplied codes to allow for faster progression in-game
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