Version Reviewed: 1.4.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
[Need some help with your card strategies? Check out our Earthcore: Shattered Elements tips & tricks guide]
Presentation is often a very important element for a video game, even if it’s a game based around cards like Earthcore: Shattered Elements is. The problem is that there’s also such a thing as too much presentation - and this is a fairly prevalent issue in Earthcore’s early moments.
Push through it and you’ll find an enjoyable and accessible card battler.
I’ll get back to the overdone presentation in a moment, but aside from that Earthcore is actually a very straightforward game. Each player takes turns placing one elemental card in one of three columns (water beats fire beats earth beats water). Once all the columns are full the round is over and battle commences, with elements automatically beating their respective opposites or canceling each other out if they match. The caveat is that each card has an associated risk that equates to damage you’ll take if that card is defeated.
What makes it more than simply rock-paper-scissors with elements (and makes it a much more interesting and strategic card game than it first appears to be) are the individual card skills. These skills do all sorts of interesting things, from allowing a card to “jump” to an empty column to copying a different card entirely. Of course the best skills are often tied to cards with a higher risk, so there’s a bit of a trade-off.
Getting back to my initial problem with the presentation, it’s the voice-acted tips that I have the biggest issue with. They’re, for lack of a better word, corny and they often state the obnoxiously obvious. This doesn’t really detract from the game but it did make slogging through the early stages even more of a slog. A more legitimate problem I have is with how much of a disadvantage going first feels like. Certain rules are in effect to balance this a little - such as the second player not being allowed to place a card opposite the first card placed on the first turn - but having to tip your hand right off the bat is unfortunate. It’s unavoidable, but unfortunate.
Turn order and hokey voice acting aside, the core of Earthcore: Shattered Elements is an enjoyable one. Time will tell if it gathers a following that rivals or surpasses other card games on mobile, but it’s a pretty good start.