Deity Wars enters the card-battling fray

Card-battling titles are extremely popular on both iOS and Android right now, with rivals GREE and Mobage the two biggest hitters vying for supremacy in this lucrative genre. Mobage’s Rage of Bahamut in particular has proven to be a huge success on both iOS and Android devices, and the company is clearly hoping to replicate that strong performance with Deity Wars, its latest title for Android devices.

Note: This game was tested on a stock Motorola Xoom running Android 3.2. The game ran reasonably well, but the visuals were not well-optimized for tablet devices, with many animations appearing in a small “window” on screen, and the game’s interface occasionally blocking graphics.

Rage of Bahamut, which we reviewed here, proved immensely popular due to its leveraging of the “catch ’em all” mentality among dedicated card gamers and fans of video games such as Pokemon. Objectively speaking, however, it is a technically weak product — its interface resembles a website from the 1990s, its options are buried in unintuitive locations around the many menu screens, it has no sound and it doesn’t run well at all on Android tablets. Its gameplay is also significantly lacking for those hoping for a game with the depth of Magic: The Gathering — for many, the benchmark of how to get card-battling gameplay right. Does Deity Wars fix its predecessors problems?

The short answer is “some of them.” Deity Wars seems much better optimized for tablet devices, with animations now running at an acceptable frame rate, and it has sound and music that add a noticeable sense of drama to the proceedings. But its interface still resembles a poorly-designed website, the possibilities on offer to players are still buried in obtuse locations around the unintuitive menus, and the gameplay is still largely a “hands off” affair. Completing “quests” still involves pressing a “do quest” button until either the player’s ability points run out or the quest is completed, and battling other players is still a case of building a deck of cards with bigger numbers on them than your opponents. There is no tactical, moment-to-moment strategic gameplay — it is simply about collecting (or purchasing) the best possible items and occasionally combining them together to make them stronger.

Social play in the game takes several forms. The first players are likely to encounter comes in the form of “raid bosses,” which Mobage’s marketing attempts to make out is some sort of new feature, but is in fact the same implementation of “boss” characters that other games of this type have seen for years. A large monster with a huge health bar appears, and players must defeat it. It’s unlikely this will be possible in a single combat, however, so players are able to call upon their in-game friends and allies to also deal damage to the boss and take it down as a group effort. Again, though, combat against the boss is totally hands off — players don’t get to trigger special abilities or select what their cards will do, simply watch the action unfold and the health bars deplete.

Alongside battling against raid bosses, players can fight each other or exchange “friendship medals” with their allies. The latter items must be used on the day they are received, and may be exchanged each week for “ranking rewards” according to how many have been collected. It’s also possible for players to post “yells” on each other’s profiles in order to communicate with one another directly. Players are encouraged to do this by the awarding of “Yell Points” after posting on a profile. These are primarily used to acquire new cards each day.

Deity Wars is a significantly better product than Rage of Bahamut thanks to its greater degree of audio-visual polish and performance optimization, but it isn’t going to change the mind of anyone who has already been put off this type of game. Going by the astronomical popularity of its predecessor, however, it’s likely to enjoy a considerable degree of success — and even more so when the inevitable iOS version appears.

Deity Wars is available now from the Google Play store. Google reports it has been installed over 10,000 times since its recent launch.