This review was originally created in July 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Not since Sony’s The Eye of Judgment (2007) for the PlayStation 3 have we had a major turn-based card battle video game attempt to take advantage of some type of advanced mixed reality technology. While that game utilized the PlayStation Eye camera paired with physical cards and a game board for a TV-based augmented reality experience, Manastorm: Champions of G’nar makes use of the HTC Vive‘s advanced virtual reality technology to offer a far more immersive, and completely self-contained, card battle video game.
Manastorm: Champions of G’nar‘s premise is simple. In the realm of G’nar, you are a spell casting, minion summoning, magic card playing, and bow-wielding wizard. Equipped with an enchanted deck of cards, you step into battle and fight to become the Champion of G’nar. Besides cards, there are dice, sand timers, crafting elements, and other components that you’d find in a typical card or board game of this type, as well as some unusual items like a bow and arrow.
Despite being a card game, this is primarily a standing, room-scale experience. However, with warping, you should have no problem playing even in smaller rooms. Otherwise, you’ll need to walk between different tables or sections in your laboratory or battle station. Both HTC Vive controllers, which are virtually represented in-game, are used to control the action.
Unfortunately, the game that’s available now is not the game the developers have planned for the future. For one, there’s no multiplayer, so this is strictly a single-player versus the computer game, with a fairly rudimentary artificial intelligence. While the graphics that are in place look good, they’re targeted for improvement, as is the expansion of the limited number of sound effects. Crafting, which is meant as a way to buff, or increase the power of an object through physical effort, is also missing, although the function is present on a purely cosmetic basis prior to starting a match.
So what is present? Right now, there’s just a fixed 20 card deck with no ability to customize or pick the cards for your particular play style. There’s also just a single battle to repeat. It says a lot, however, that despite the present limitations, what’s there is fun, at least for a playthrough or two. There’s definitely a solid core here for the developers to expand from.
If you’re a fan of card battle games, digital or otherwise, like Magic: the Gathering, Hearthstone, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, you’ll likely be disappointed with how limited Manastorm: Champions of G’nar is in comparison to these genre stalwarts. For card-battling veterans, this game will likely do little more than satisfy a curiosity with how well the concept can be translated to virtual reality. On the other hand, for newcomers to the concept, Manastorm: Champions of G’nar‘s limitations can serve as a gentle introduction to card battle games. Sadly, though, with just a single battle scenario and little else to do at this time, even newcomers will likely lose interest after a handful of playthroughs.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars.
Manastorm: Champions of G’nar is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.