Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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You've just recovered from barely fending off a pack of bloodthirsty velociraptors when suddenly some intergalactic warlord shows up. He launches into a trite rant about his plans to take over the Earth and begins teleporting in legions of his ugly alien soldiers who advance on you and your friends. Then, without warning, a volcano erupts, spewing ash and burning lava into the sky. Yep, it's just another Tuesday for the Sentinels of the Multiverse.
Sentinels of the Multiverse first came to life in tabletop form courtesy of Greater Than Games back in 2011. Now this superhero smash-up is the latest game to go digital with Handelabra's iPad adaptation. And while it may not be the prettiest thing on the market, Sentinels has weathered the transition well.
Game setup involves selecting a team of superheroes, an archvillain for them to face, and a location where the battle takes place. Each of these three elements comes with its own deck of cards representing the special abilities, equipment, events, and/or the foes the heroes will fight. As one would expect, the heroes win by reducing the archvillain's health to zero. Meanwhile, the villain can win by either knocking out all of the supers, or by fulfilling some special victory condition specific to that particular baddie.
The tutorial does a pretty good job of explaining the game's mechanics and structure in a methodical manner without feeling like it's holding your hand excessively. I do wish there were some manner of pause function so it would be easier to check card details without the gameplay continuing when it's not the heroes' turn, however.
Sentinels' artwork, which rather echoes the feel of a lot of indie superhero comics I've read in my day, comes across a bit on the low-rent side but it definitely lends the game a very unified and distinct look. There are even fictional histories for all of the characters and cards are sprinkled with quotes from back issues of books that have never seen print - at least not in THIS universe. The panels of the game's layout and the page-flipping effect as the turns progress nod respectfully at the fictional source material. It's just a shame that there's not a bit more pomp when winning, rather than just a simple splash screen.
You might not see that splash screen too often though, as Sentinels of the Multiverse sports a pretty nasty difficulty curve. Some heroes (Absolute Zero leaps immediately to mind) can be a bit hard to play and are recommended for experienced metahuman wranglers only. Admittedly, these are supposed to be massive threats the heroes are facing, but sometimes a combination of random luck and what can appear to be just overwhelmingly unfair combinations of enemy powers can lead to a rapid spiral toward defeat. And while defeated heroes can still assist their teammates via small support boosts that only activate after they're removed from active combat, it's rarely enough to turn the tide in the player's favor, unless the big baddie was already on the verge of defeat.
Still, small issues aside, Sentinels of the Multiverse is another great adaptation that continues to bridge the divide between tabletop and tablet screen. And considering the original has released several expansions during its lifetime, I wouldn't be surprised to see some DLC beefing out the experience before long. This is a solid recommendation.