Spellsword Cards: Origins review
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Spellsword Cards: Origins review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on May 3rd, 2019
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: METEORFALL MIMIC
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This solo, portrait-mode card game bears more than a little resemblance to another game.

Developer: One Up Plus

Price: $2.99
Version: 1.48
App Reviewed on: iPhone XR

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

It wasn’t even a month ago that I was writing about how Spellsword Cards: Demontide had just about everything anyone could want from a mobile card game besides some sort of portrait game mode. Today, that changes—sort of. One Up Plus has released yet another Spellsword Cards game, but this time, it’s imitating Meteorfall instead of Hearthstone. This game, entitled Spellsword Cards: Origins definitely provides a quality experience, but it doesn’t go much beyond imitating a pre-existing (and better) game.

Reshuffled roguelite

Spellsword Cards: Origins is a fairly straightforward dungeon-crawler that is built around cards. Each run starts with you creating a character to determine what your base deck of attacks and abilities is. From there, you select a dungeon and fight various monsters while gaining experience, upgrading cards, and unlocking new abilities all along the way.

Your goal in all this is to survive through four increasingly difficult dungeons to ultimately battle the ultra-powerful Lich King. To get here, you need to win fights, but dungeons contain more than just enemies. Merchants, blacksmiths, monasteries, and random events crop up from time to time and all of them give you the opportunity to hone or upgrade your deck. Using these tools to carefully prune and maintain your deck is key to playing Spellsword Cards: Origins effectively.

Meteoric inspiration?

If all of this sounds really familiar, it’s probably because it is. Spellsword Cards: Origins is eerily similar to Slothwerk’s Meteorfall. Both games are card-based roguelites playable in a convenient portrait mode. Both set you on a journey to defeat a lich. Both even present you with your pick between two dungeons as you progress through your quest.

As similar as these games are though, I wouldn’t quite say that Spellsword Cards: Origins is a straight-up clone. There is one key difference between these games that sets them apart: hands. Where Meteorfall limits you to playing cards one at a time off the top of your deck, Spellsword Cards: Origins gives players a full hand of card options that you can accumulate and play at will.

Different flavors of the same thing

Knowing what cards you have access to, paired with the ability to retain them between turns, makes the strategy layer of Spellsword Cards: Origins feel fundamentally different than that of Meteorfall. Because you don’t have as much control over your cards in Meteorfall, much of that game revolves around designing single, powerful synergy using as few cards as possible. Origins, on the other hand, feels a bit more flexible and forgiving, allowing for some more experimentation with different kinds of cards or multiple synergies that you can more easily control and deploy provided you have the right amount of card draw.

That said, I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend Spellsword Cards: Origins over Meteorfall. Where the other Spellsword Cards game, Demontide, feels like it adds meaningful variety to the Hearthstone blueprint and fills a void in the mobile card game space, Origins kind of just feels like a slight spin on a game that came before it. It also doesn’t help that Meteorfall just looks and feels better than Origins in almost every way.

The bottom line

If you’re interested in the kind of experience Spellsword Cards: Origins offers, it’s hard for me not recommend that you play Meteorfall instead. Although there are some key differences between the two, they’re still so similar, and Meteorfall flat-out feels better. Spellsword Cards: Origins is capable of being a source for “more and slightly different-feeling” Meteorfall, though, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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