Developer: Gameloft
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Gameloft sports a massive library of games that cover just about any genre a player could want. Just about. I’m fairly certain they’ve never released a card game like Order & Chaos Duels before. The unfortunate thing is that it also means they haven’t refined their techniques, and it shows by way of one of the least balanced single player campaigns I’ve seen.

Order & Chaos Duels isn’t like most other iOS online card games because it doesn’t involve card evolutions or leveling. Instead it’s all about strategies, card stats, and special skills. Players begin by choosing a hero (Human, Elf, Orc, Undead) and start with a fairly well rounded deck. After a brief prison escape tutorial that glosses over all the particulars, it’s time to start plowing through the world of Haradon. The bulk of the initial gameplay focuses on increasingly tougher (and replayable) fights with NPC enemies as players attempt to toughen up their hero and acquire more powerful cards. Of course they can always try their hand at multiplayer duels or even raid other players for loot if they so desire.

I haven’t played every single iOS multiplayer card game out there, but I’ve played a lot. And I have no qualms with saying Order & Chaos Duels is the best looking and best presented one I’ve ever encountered. The various magic and combat effects during duels liven up the action quite a bit, the artwork is superb, and the interface is surprisingly elegant and easy to navigate. It can also be a heck of a lot of fun while taking on a fairly well matched opponent. Players will really have to stop and inspect their cards, as well as their opponent’s, or else they probably won’t last long. Of course this is when opponents are evenly matched.

The flavortext of an enemy’s skill flashes by too quickly to read, but that’s a mild irritation when compared to Order & Chaos Duels exceptionally poor balance. Enemies should be tough, certainly, but after a point it’s all too easy to be completely steamrolled and feel totally helpless. There’s nothing like fighting an orc who can deal 8 damage directly to any card every four turns who also seems to carry an awful lot of direct damage spells. Spells that seem to take far less mana than they should seeing as I’ve been spammed with them one several occasions.

I’m used to games that treat single player like training for multiplayer. Games that steadily ramp up along with the player’s skill level. Games that don’t toss up a seemingly impassable wall before players have had a chance to build a respectable deck. Order & Chaos Duels is not that game. Players can still have a ton of fun battling each other, of course, but trying to play solo quickly becomes an exercise in frustration.

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