Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden review
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
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The Voice of Cards series is kind of odd in that it is based around a dedication to gimmicks that don't meaningfully change the core of the games all that much. These titles all want to emulate a grand fantasy adventure using nothing but tabletop game pieces, like cards, counters, and even a game master to narrate the whole tale to you. Outside of these things, the games are essentially a small scale role playing game, which is mostly a good fit for their arrival on iOS, though at least The Forsaken Maiden has a few issues that makes it less than ideal for mobile play.
A fetching quest
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden takes place in a fantasy world comprised of island villages that are each home to a maiden who is responsible for keeping these communities safe. There is some not-entirely-clear threat that the world is constantly defending itself against and the arcane rituals and ceremonial magic of these maidens keeps that threat at bay.
The Forsaken Maiden follows the journey of a silent maiden named Laty who finds herself having to journey with her attendant to the other islands to help other maidens perform their rituals. In meeting these characters, you build up a party of adventurers who fight in random battles, level up, and customize their ability sets as they uncover more about the evil forces perpetuating the need for maidens and their magic.
Card-based but conventional
The entire story of The Forsaken Maiden plays out through the use of cards and narration by a fully voiced storyteller. This doesn't mean that this game (or the other Voice of Cards titles, for that matter) are deck-builders or have any other card game mechanics or conventions. There's no card drawing or collection to speak of at all. The closest The Forsaken Maiden gets to being like a card game is how its ability cards cost a certain amount of tokens that you accumulate over the course of a fight (as opposed to having mana pools or anything).
Otherwise, The Forsaken Maiden plays almost exactly like a very conventional role-playing game. You explore an overworld to wander between locations, interact with key characters, and fight in random battles and boss fights. As a sort of smaller scale game, I will say I appreciate this game's sense of pace. Getting through The Forsaken Maiden should take less than 20 hours, and throughout there is no real need to grind out experience or money at all.
On paper, it makes total sense to bring a game like The Forsaken Maiden to mobile. With the streamlined storytelling and straightforward card combat, it feels like it should be exactly the thing you might want to bust out at a moment's notice while out to take a few steps toward the ending credits. Unfortunately, though, this isn't quite the case, and The Forsaken Maiden's relatively unwieldy mobile design only gets worse the longer you play it.
The first roadblock to making this game easy to whip out is a long inital load. You can bypass this if you can manage to keep the game suspended, but it still means every time you start it anew you've got to wait almost a minute to actually play it. As you play, there are also times where the game either hasn't optimized the touch areas of menus or certain buttons just don't work, to the point that late-stage abilities aren't even selectable. These things didn't put a huge damper on making me want to see the game to the end, but the long drawn-out sequences of fights with uneven difficulty and no ability to save between really did. I got through to the end and was satisfied by the conclusion, fortunately, but I can't see myself wanting to revisit the game for any of the side quests or other unlocks I received upon beating the game the first time.
The bottom line
If I had to sum it up, I'd say The Forsaken Maiden is a solid rpg up until around the last act of the game, where it simultaneously makes some design missteps and loses all sense of mobile friendliess. Before you reach that point, the problems with the game's mobile port are apparent but it's much easier to look past them and just enjoy the swift-moving rpg playing out via cards and narration.