Whether you prefer the deep, strategic challenge of games like Magic 2012, or the less elegant but equally absorbing gameplay of Rage of Bahamut, it's safe to say that 2012 was a bit of a vintage year for card battling games. Touchscreens, and tablets in particular, seem like the natural new home for what can be fiddly affairs on paper, so we're intrigued to see what 2013 brings for the genre.
Spellstorm may be rather uninspiring in its story of good and evil, elves and demons but those accustomed to the rather static card-battling of other online games are in for a particular treat thanks to the styling of the game. Rather than tapping your way through a series of dull static screens, you instead make horizontal progress through a rich and hand-painted world - animations aren't particular fluid but they do breathe some much-needed life into these normally rather primitive worlds.
Combat in the game is automated (and even skippable, should you wish to cut straight to the results), and so the challenge comes from choosing the creature cards you want to take into battle with you. Representing a sprawling array of beautifully drawn demonic creations, these cards can also be enhanced with any cards you no longer wish to keep. Suffice to say that collection fiends are going to be kept busy for some time to come with even the free content on offer.
This free to play game makes use of various currencies and an energy system to either keep you hanging around or spending your money, depending on your preferences. Progressing through the campaign expends your energy which replenishes over time (generously for the genre, it must be said), or you can buy potions to instantly restore the meter. Currencies can be used to pick up new card packs, although you'll pick up a fair few of them on your journey for free.
What if you like your combat to be just a little more personal? Spellstorm packs in a simple but robust PVP system, where you can choose opponents from around the world to head into battle against. Leaderboards reset daily, with potions and monster cards being awarded to the best performers. It's hard not to see this as being a bit of a pay-to-win scenario, but it's a way for the most committed players to show off their collection.
It may not be the deepest strategy game on the App Store, but fans of other card-battling heavyweights such as Rage of Bahamut will feel right at home in Spellstorm's world. There's a huge variety of creature cards to collect and evolve, a generous campaign to work through, and a far more engaging world to explore in comparison to the competition. It won't convert any genre naysayers, but card strategy fans are in for an unusually high quality treat here.
What's Hot:A beautifully drawn world with a lot of creature cards to collect.
What's Not:Gameplay is relatively simple