Card Quest (Old-School RPG Card Slam)

In case you didn’t notice, Deaf Sparrow has dabbled in video game critique before, I just wanted to think about the best direction to take, and based on my current music review output, it made the most sense to focus on up-and-coming developers with a small amount of press, as well as games that fit the site’s theme as much as possible. After that came the PR emails to get the promos coming so my inbox is further bloated and I feel less inclined to look at it. One of the few publishers to respond in a reasonable amount of time was Black Shell Media, who had promoted some games I was already familiar with it, and they unleashed this new one on me, Card Quest, which is a great intro to how I’m going to be doing video game reviews. This review comes with the assumption that you know or use Steam in some capacity, and I’m currently playing Steam through Shield, from Nvidia.



Card Quest comes courtesy of WinterSpring Games, who on Steam only have this title to their name and almost 0 Internet presence, a mistake these days. I was immediately drawn to the look, which hearkens back to late 1980s PC as well as 16-Bit era RPGs. So much that it’s obvious the creators have lived in the world of PC speaker scares and ASCII mazes, and have convinced me using archaic English will sound cool. It was likely daily life to them, such games, hours spent without bathing or eating until one’s body becomes something like baked ham (true story, I’ve been there too). Card Quest is an RPG that places the player’s attack and defense into cards, rather than relying on stats and set attributes per class. In this case, classes are given different cards that represent their skills, and as one would expect from any tabletop card game, playing cards in a certain order is part of the strategy, as well as knowing what to discard and when. The game started with three classes upon first release, but is now up to four.

Play runs by first experiencing the training scenarios, which I strongly recommend, which give you a feel for how card dealing and playing works. Then, selecting only a single character, you can run through one of three worlds, which are billed as “dungeon crawl” but are more like “choose your path.” As you progress, you’re given access to equipment with various functions, which you can rotate at your choosing, as well as different decks. For the screencaptures I’ve taken here, I focused solely on the Wizard class to show of this, otherwise I’d be doing this for weeks and these guys have waited long enough for me to give them a review in return.

Immediately noticeable was the deep level of strategy and the surprising complexity to the card approach, which is a difficult task. I’ve played a number of games like this, and they’re usually superficial in strategy, so you quickly learn to exploit and destroy them. Card Quest, however, requires the player to become linked with the mechanics much more deeply than I can say I’ve seen with this type of game. The variety of enemies, their various tricks, the different strategies you naturally develop depending on your deck choice, how you learn to manipulate and use cards in unorthodox ways, this one has all the features that make for an excellent RPG/strategy title. The monsters are typical RPG fare, of course, with some unique ones at times, and the animations are limited, primarily retained in the cards and 2 to 3-frame movements of the sprites, which is what gives it an old PC atmosphere. Saving isn’t intuitive at first, in that you have to exit the current game, and should you lose you have to start the entire world again, though you can find keys that provide access to the midway points of each world. This was easy to grasp, though I must say at first I was like “where TF is the damn save?” The sound effects and music were more modern, and very fitting.

You’re going DOWN tonight son, or daughter, thing whatever.

If I had any complaint, there are only two. These being the lack of a party system or an actual 3D environment to wander around, which is what would truly give this an actual “dungeon crawl” feel. Calling it that is perhaps deceptive, so forget the dungeon thing. This is as dungeon as playing blackjack. You get text explaining your path choices, but other than the main map of paths to choose, there is no actual crawl here. Further, the one-player approach is restricting, but based on how the overall game is designed makes total sense. It would be a definite direction of choice in the future, should a sequel be in the works, to see a multi-class system utilized for more variety and strategy, but certainly the amount of complexity that would present the programmers would be immense, but would also open the option for this becoming multi-player and attracting a larger player base, though currently Card Quest is running a high positive review rate on Steam, which speaks to its positive features. Further, allow me to add that this game gets the extremely difficult to achieve distinction of my daughter being interested in it, though primarily to hear the eerie breathing of the “purple ghosts,” as she called them, or the beings you summon with your necromantic abilities for defense, if you want to get specific about it.


Card Quest Official Steam Page

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Card Quest
Black Shell Media (publisher), WinterSpring Games (developer)
4.7 / 5