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Candlelight warms the scene. Cards arranged and ready for battle. The enemy monsters’ stamina counts dwarf my party members’. I use a spell to accumulate gems, the currency resource needed for advanced attacks. I choose a target and unleash a poison arrow. A die rolls to determine if the enemy will be afflicted by a status ailment. In this brief moment, barely a second in length, I feel myself caught in the grip of Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, and I never want it to end.
See the trailer for Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars here
From the genius mind of Yoko Taro, creator of the incredible Nier series, Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars offers a fantasy world made out of beautifully illustrated cards. From exploration to combat, everything unfolds as if using game cards on a playing surface, creating a sense of self-awareness that's both intriguing and comforting.
This cognisant quality is most demonstrated by the presence of a GM (gamemaster), who narrates the in-game events, voices characters and passes comment on your actions. This audio-only GM is voiced by Todd Haberkorn (Lost Judgment, Monster Hunter Rise), and he is exceptional in this role.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars begins with the player character, the money-obsessed and somewhat charmless ‘Would-Be Hero’, and his companion Mar, an adorable, manatee-like monster. Our unlikely heroes are on a quest to slay the dragon that has been terrorising the world, but can’t do it alone. The pair are soon joined by Melanie, a spellcaster with a grudge against the scaly, winged fiend, and so the journey begins proper.
As the game develops, the party travels to many interesting places, recruits more party members that can be swapped in and out of the three-person team used in fights, and uncovers a story which offers up more than they bargained for.
All of these elements combined make for an excellent game in its own right, but where Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars really comes alive is in its atmosphere. This is the cosiest game I’ve ever played. Playing with my Nintendo Switch docked, gameplay on the TV, lights off so only the screen illuminates the room, and hours disappear with ease. Gentle specks of light float across the game board, while the click-clack of the dice makes the experience feel so vivid.
Add to that a soundtrack by Keiichi Okabe (famed for his amazing Nier score), with arrangements both epic and delicate, and you’ve got the perfect music for your Dungeons & Dragon-esque adventure.
The best thing about all of this? It’s single-player. All of the joy of a tabletop RPG is present without any of the hassle attached to organising a group of friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love socialising when the mood takes me, but Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars offers much of the core experience for when you want to go solo.
If you’re looking for a self-contained, D&D-style game for one, then Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars has got you covered. Add to that an incredible soundtrack, a beautiful art style and a rich story, and you’ve got yourself one of the best RPGs that came out in 2021.
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is out now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
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