Developer: Mana Starved Studios
Version Reviewed: 2.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Shadow Spires is a card game for people that don't play a lot of card games. If one looks hard enough, they may find hints of the deeper strategies that give Magic: The Gathering or even Yu-Gi-Oh and the Pokémon card game their lasting appeal. However, there aren't enough of them and they sort of don’t matter.
Shadow Spires features a fantasy aesthetic that feels like a darker take on Puzzle Quest and its plot is equally generic. All players really need to worry about is attacking the enemy base with magic spell cards all while trying to protect their own base. Each base is made up of a tower and wall. Most times, towers can only be damaged after the wall falls and once the tower topples its game over. With such a straightforward objective too many rounds devolve into mindless wars of attrition as both sides just throw whatever cards they have at each other until someone wins. Potential players should also get ready to hear the rock crumbling sound effect over and over again.
However, there is more to it than it initially lets on. Players can customize their decks and many of the over 150 cards have special abilities like attacking the enemy tower directly or rebuilding the player's own wall. There is also a resource system where players gather minerals and build barracks to be able to play stronger cards. Unfortunately, these little intricacies that give the game its depth are, ironically, also its most poorly explained aspects. Many might not even notice them until a few games in. Once players do get the hang of the core system though they can just skip the story and try out the free play and challenge modes for a real test of their skills.
Anyone new to strategy card games and looking for a simple place to start should check out Shadow Spires. However, it won't be long before they start craving some slightly more complicated fare.