Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is a very different beast. It mixes a variety of elements plucked from card games, game master-driven board games (think Dungeons & Dragons) and role-playing video games into a character-and-card-centered RPG with a colorfully animated tabletop look.
The story starts with a young hero/bounty hunter and his beasty sidekick who set off in hunt of a dragon that’s threatening the kingdom. Of course, on their own, they’d likely soon be dragon chow, so they pick up some fellow adventures along the way—starting with a beautiful black-clad magic-caster. Each new team member has his or her own driving desires, including the promise of riches, revenge, glory, or the simple thrill of adventuring.
This entire world of swords, creatures and armored adventurers, however, is one made of cards. Gamers move their game piece across a tabletop of face-down cards—representing towns, pathways, dark forests, hidden caves, islands and other quest-focused locations—flipping them face-up and revealing what they encounter in their movement. All the while, a game master narrates their progress and voices all of the people and monsters (trolls, goblins, slimes, harpies, etc.) that they happen upon.
Random events and monster encounters are found around every corner. And from there they could well lead to a battle, followed by a transition to the combat board. Players have several different skill actions that their team of characters can use against foes—using gems that serve as battle points, or rolling a die (or dice) to calculate an attack’s damage. It may sound complicated, but it’s all very intuitive and easy to slip into, even for younger, inexperienced players.
Characters upgrade their strength, skills and abilities through repeated encounters with opponents and quests. Each character comes packing different special, physical, or elemental attacks, which the various monsters may have weaknesses to or resistances against. Then, as characters gain new skills and abilities, the player can switch in and out those elements that work best for the team as a whole. The goal is to determine how best to balance the skills of your team of three (chosen from a gathered group of five or six) and take on the foes you encounter.
This is a fun game of knights, adventurers and mythic critters that’s made all the more interesting thanks to the colorful cards and witty narration in the play. Because everything is card based, there’s no blood or mess in the battles. And the world is as immersive as a well-told story.
Players are also given dialogue choices to choose between during interaction with other characters. And though the choices and interactions don’t always impact a given situation directly, they do help illustrate how a character can change as the game progresses—showing an individual’s shift from their greedy or revenge-driven ways to caring for others around them.
Even though this is a bloodless game, parents should note that much of the action is centered around battles and clashes with people and monsters. Character cards thump against one another or let loose with magic blasts, and the attacks are all accompanied by slashing effects and sounds.
Perhaps the biggest reason for a slight parental frown, though, comes from some of the character’s outfits. For instance, male and female character images can sometimes be dressed in pretty revealing armor that exposes a lot of rippling muscle or rounded curves (including backsides and cleavage). It’s all stylishly drawn, but it can be a bit provocative at times. And the narrated dialogue can get a tad winking, too. For instance, in one town a young woman wipes some grime away from her pet slime monster’s mouth. And the blobby creature notes, “That’s not my mouth.”
The narration can sometimes note that characters are bleeding, or the fact that we encounter a “claret trail” in a dark cave, things that we don’t actually see.
And naturally, the game contains plenty of magical elements—elements that parents may not want their children engaging with.
In a gaming landscape littered with many RPGs, Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars stands out with some appealing features.
The story is fun and immersive. The presentation is colorful while steering clear of mess. And the competitive single-player battles are quick and fluid. It’s a well-rounded, interesting game with only a few drawbacks for younger card-flippers.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.