Four months after the release of the first episode, the still very young series Voice of Cards is already welcoming a second work with The Forsaken Maiden. We find there once again Yoko Taro, creator of Drakengard but more specifically of NieR, and his entire team behind this new project. But while the first game was praised for its original principle but criticized in many other aspects, did The Forsaken Maiden learn from its predecessor?
Seeing the sequel to a game four months after the release of the previous one: this is indeed an increasingly rare practice in video games, something we haven’t seen since the ’80s and ’90s Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, which surprised everyone when it became official a few weeks ago. It must be said that the first installment of this very young series, Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, was announced in early September 2021 for a late October release on PC, PS4 and Switch.
And since this is still a very young Square Enix saga of modest scope, we take the opportunity to explain what makes it original. Voice of Cards is therefore (now) a series of turn-based J-RPGs that have the particularity of taking place in worlds made entirely of cards, as its name indicates. The entire action is narrated by the voice of a single narrator in the form of an experience halfway between an RPG and a board game, as you move a pawn on squares represented by cards while being periodically interrupted by random b attles.
Behind this concept are Yoko Taro, creator of the Drakengard and NieR saga, as well as several of his regular collaborators such as the composer Keiichi Okabe or the illustrator Kimihiko Fujisaka. But, Voice of Cards is not a card game as it is not about building decks such as in a trading card game. In reality, the title is closer to a classic turn-based J-RPG like the old Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, since we’ll fight with a team of characters, each with their own skills, equipment and other statistics. .
An experience that draws lessons from its predecessors…
Now that the basic concept of Voice of Cards has been explained, it’s time to talk about the new features of this second episode, which is not a direct sequel to the original game. After the dragon hunt from The Isle Dragon Roars, The action of The Forsaken Maiden takes place on a ghost-inhabited archipelago nestled in the heart of a paradise ocean. On each of their islands, priestesses, accompanied by their guardians, perform a ritual to invoke the power of the spirits to ensure the islands’ protection. But among the five islands of this archipelago there is one that has no priestess and is therefore doomed to await her fateful extinction.
In this context, we play a young sailor named Samjïn who wants to save his village from its tragic fate. By chance, he meets a mysterious young girl named Alva who has lost her voice and her powers. Thanks to the revelations of Silla, a stuffed animal that claims to be a spirit, Samjïn learns that Alva could become a priestess if they manage to collect the relics of the other four priestesses. And so begins our heroes’ journey to save their island from destruction. While The Forsaken Maiden’s starting point is quite classic, this journey is an opportunity to meet the Priestess/Guardian duos from the other islands, who often have the right to tell touching stories. Unlike the first game that made fun of heroic fantasy codes to better distract them, here, Hints of humor are rarer, and the script favors more intimate stories that are effective and often well-written thanks to many surprises and twists.
The adventure is all the more enjoyable to browse as its artistic part is still as neat as ever beyond its original basic concept. First of all, it has to be acknowledged that Kimihiko Fujisaka (the Drakengard series, Terra Battle, NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…) offers again Illustrations of great beauty thanks to the very elegant style of their author. It must be said that in such a minimalist title, the illustrations play a central role in defining the characters, as they only speak through the narrator’s voice. We can see that tooA melancholy atmosphere emanates from The Forsaken Maiden thanks to the soundtrack curated by Keiichi Okabe
… for a more controlled result
Aside from its more intimate storyline, The Forsaken Maiden has mainly been the subject of many improvements compared to its predecessor that make the experience more enjoyable. First, while the first game was criticized for being slow, This second episode allows (finally) to speed up the pace of the game at any time thanks to a simple press of a button. Option also available in The Isle Dragon Roars since an update last December. This feature quickly turns out to be vital once you realize that The random battles of this second opus are still as numerous, which tends to slow exploration speed down a bit too much, sometimes making it painful at the end. It’s also the only bug inherited from the original game that we find here, since the same goes for the ergonomics in certain menus, which can still be improved.
As for fights Several subtleties have been added to allow for more variety in clashes. First of all, on each island he goes to, the player will be accompanied by the local priestess and her guardian. In terms of combat, this means that we regularly change teammates, and therefore the approach to each confrontation. what’s more Each new pair is entitled to their own duo attack and who consumes large numbers of magic gems through his power. As a reminder, in Voice of Cards you get a magic gem each turn that you can spend to use an ability. Obviously, the most effective are also the greediest.
Finally, we can mention other small adjustments: increase from three to a maximum of four characters on the ground, increase in inventory from 30 to 50, receiving a gem when it is your turn, each companion now has five skills on the field instead of four, etc . say so All of these elements look like points of detail, but lined up next to each other, the adventure gains in comfort, but also in tactical possibilities
Despite all those few subtleties we just mentioned, It must be mentioned that this new episode of Voice of Cards is still very similar to the original game. Aside from the new story and some gameplay tweaks, the two experiences remain almost identical, so don’t expect big changes. With that in mind, those who didn’t like The Isle Dragon Roars probably won’t appreciate The Forsaken Maiden. on another side, This result is hardly surprising given the delay between the release of the two gamesbut also the reduced size of the team and the budget allocated for this type of production.
- A concept that still shines through originality and minimalism
- Finally an opportunity to speed up the game
- Slight gameplay updates that improve combat options
- Less funny, but more touching and always surprisingly written
- Sublime illustrations signed by Kimihiko Fujisaka
- A haunting soundtrack directed by Keiichi Okabe
- A fun bonus card game
- A logical lack of novelty for a game released four months after the first
- Still too many random fights
- Some ergonomic concerns in the menus remain
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, learning from its predecessor, is a more controlled experience than The Isle Dragon Roars. Touching story, gameplay adjustments, ability to speed up the game… The main criticisms of the original game have been heard. But if we find the charm of this original concept thanks to its minimalist side and its neat artistic part, logically its short development time keeps the title very similar to its older one. The result is certain shortcomings that are still present, such as random battles that are still so numerous. It now remains to be seen whether the teams of Alim and Yoko Taro will continue this sustained release pace after this more successful second attempt.
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