Review: The Dengen Chronicles


Dengen Chronicles is a multi-player collectible card game (I don't know, you wait and then two of them come along at once). You'll build up your choice of cards, and then take a handful of them into combat. Win and you gain the spoils of currency, jewels, and crystals that power the game's merchandising side of things. A reliance on freemium does potentially unbalance an interesting take on the genre.

Author: Mangatar

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As for the overall storyline, it's very much a personal one. You are an individual in a world full of warring families. As the game starts, you have to choose one family to be part of, and then collect some warriors to defend your good name through the time honoured tradition of combat.

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The core game-play of Dengen Chronicles is based on the Top Trumps principle. Each warrior is represented by a character card that has an attack and a defence rating. In the 'ambush' version of the game these are simply compared with the card your opponent plays and the winner is whoever's card has the most defence left after the attack. In the tactical game (which you will likely spend more time playing), the combat takes place in a hexagon ring. Card characters attack in an anti-clockwise direction, so are defending themselves from the card that is clockwise in relation to them. As you start, that's a one-one-situation, but you can build up layers of defence on your stronger cards as they lead an attack.

The hex-ring where combat takes place also has modifiers in place that can increase or decrease a character's stats depending on their affiliation with the natural elements on the hexes. If you need a bigger stats boost, then you can use the second type card, the Dengen card. These modifiers are placed in the hex ring and affect all the stats that go through them.

Dengen Chronicles has a lot to offer. There is a huge card-set to play with, and the ability to play with opponents around the world means you are not saddled with a rather predictable AI. That gives the game a much better edge when playing, but it also slows down the progress of each battle. One you make your move, you have to wait for your opponent to move.

Luckily, you can have multiple games running at the same time, and most people that I've played against respond with little delay. Just be aware you can't sit down and play for hours without having some willing players at the other end of your internet connection.

Because of that stop-start nature of the game, there is not a huge amount of depth to the tactics on offer. If you were playing this constantly against opponents with no delay then it would be over far too quickly and get a bit boring. By forcing a short wait on each round of the game - as you both play your cards blind and they are compared afterwards - you actually get a more interesting game as you forget exactly what each opponent has played, and their favoured strategy.

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On the surface, Dengen Chronicles is well implemented, with a reasonable game mechanic that is not too simple but does offer some options to the player to influence the game. I have two issues with the title though, that makes me hesitant to recommend it.

The first is that the title is very hard to get into. There is no hand-holding tutorial, or talking you through the first game with hints on strategy and how best to play. The first ten minutes of the experience need some drastic improvement to improve player retention.

The second issue is more problematic. Dengen Chronicles is a freemium game. You need to spend energy crystals to start a new game (which are earned over time), but you also have the in-game gold currency that you need to spend to buy packs of cards, which delliver 5 random cards to your stock pile for deck-building.

Because gold can be bought as an in-app purchase, rather than solely earned through combat in the game, anyone who's paid into the game is going to have a stronger hand of cards to play against. As you build up your level in the game through playing, you'll find more heavily equipped players and the choice of paying up and entering the arms race, or stop playing.

I'm tending towards stop playing, although I know that many people will be happy to throw in £4 which would allow them to buy really powerful booster packs, and a few mid range packs to bulk up the choices. But throw down £10 or £20 and you are going to outclass all the 'free' players.

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Fair play if cards are earned through combat, but the short-circuiting of the process is something you should consider before investing time in this title.

The freemium model does muddy the waters of Dengen Chronicles. It looks the part of a manga-based card game, and the tweaks to the Top Trumps model do work. It's not clicking for me personally, but I can see that there is a lot of appeal in here for those who appreciate something a bit slower than an arcade game that offers depth and fast game-play.

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