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MOBA

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    Deck Casters
    Developed By: Rock Nano Global
    Published By: Rock Nano Global/Maximum Games (PS4)
    Released: Apr 4, 2017 (PS4); Jan 10, 2018 (Steam)
    Available On: PlayStation 4, Windows
    Genre: Card Game, Real-Time Strategy, MOBA
    ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood
    Number of Players: Up to four players online
    Price: $15.99 (Steam), $19.99 (PS4)

    Thank you Rock Nano Global for sending us a review code!

    Have you ever had a moment where you, being a fan of Hearthstone, StarCraft, and/or League of Legends (and similar games), ever say, “Well golly gee! I sure wish I could play all those genres at the exact same time!”? Of course you haven’t, that’s such an asinine thought in the first place. Well, that didn’t stop Rock Nano Global from sticking all those genres in a blender anyway and pouring out this union called Deck Casters!

    So Deck Casters is basically a real-time strategy, a card game, and a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) all smashed up in one whole package. Deck Casters consists of 1v1 or 2v2 battles where you make a deck out of 20 cards consisting of all kinds of mythical creatures from genies and fairies, to necromancers and mermen. The mythology aspect doesn’t pertain to one specific group, and like the genre of the game, is a conglomerate of otherworldly beings beating each other up (how delightful!).

    Deck Casters begins with three prebuilt decks, but it’s in your best interest to customize your deck to your preferences. Cards are separated by type, which consist of unit types and spell types. Every deck must be assigned a champion card, which can be chosen from any pool of the unit cards. Champions are unique in that instead of being consumed like regular cards, they are put on a cooldown instead. Even though cards are separated by element, there isn’t much of an incentive to actually make an element-based or archetype-themed deck, like in most PvP card games. One of the exceptions is with the wolfkin cards, which gain various effects depending on how many other wolfkin cards are on the field. All cards featured in the game are unlocked from the beginning so you can immediately build that deck your beautiful heart desires, instead of wasting your valuable and precious time and/or money obtaining cards you otherwise wouldn’t use. (Gives you more time to binge those Netflix shows, am I right?)

    Deck Casters
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Colorful graphics; no grinding required for the cards
    Weak Points: Multiplayer is completely dead; very basic for a mishmash of multiple genres; PC version is actually watered down for reasons unknown
    Moral Warnings: Magic usage; wraith creatures; some cards have the requirement of sacrificial offerings to deal damage; some of the female character art shows off cleavage

    Once you get that deck all “decked out,” you are now ready to fight! The objective of Deck Casters is to whittle down your opponent's health bar to zero, which is accomplished by capturing monoliths, destroying your enemies, or collecting crystals on the map. Your cards are gathered over a period of time, as well as a resource called mana. Mana is used to play your cards that can cost one to eight mana. Monsters are summoned on the field, which can be directed with the usage of the mouse and its various “clickity-clacks,” while spell cards can be used anywhere on the map, as long as you have vision of that area (with a few exceptions). As the game has RTS and MOBA elements, camera work is left to the mouse either by touching the ends of the screen with your cursor, using the directional arrows, or clicking on the minimap. The depth of field can also be adjusted with the mouse wheel. The controls are kinda awkward to use due to quite a lot of actions being mapped from the Q to F keys so most of them end up being in a strange place. Using a second monitor with this game is a pain as your cursor will move over to that second screen. The controls are usable and functional, but can be rather uncomfortable for some.

    With the huge combination of genres, one would think that the game has an insane amount of depth in it, right? Well that happens to be incorrect. Deck Casters is a rather simple game in all aspects. There are only two maps in the game, and most units act very similar to each other. The MOBA elements don’t really feel MOBA-like, or simply take away from the game. The strategy required is very basic due to the lack of synergy between the cards. Even the card game aspect doesn’t feel like it has much to offer due to the lack of card game elements. The multiplayer is also deader than the love child of disco and a doornail, so that aspect doesn’t help out Deck Casters in any way.

    The graphics, while also simple, are workable and the card art is rather well done. The creatures and environment have a nice, vibrant color pallet as well as the scenery. The field has a nice and coherent design to it, and I also like the designs of the creatures too. This is one aspect the developers did well in. Can’t say the same for the sound or music. No matter how much I try, the only thing I can remember in terms of sound is a rather annoying phrase by the mermen ("We move like the waves!") when directing them to their destination.

    Deck Casters
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 54%
    Gameplay - 8/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 3/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 9/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    In the title, I mentioned another title by the name of “ArmaGallant: Decks of Destiny.” When doing a little research, I found out that Deck Casters is a port of the PS4 version, but somehow has less features such as the inability to level up your cards. No one really knows why the name change for the PC release. Maybe Rock Nano Global lost the name rights due to a bet at a poker game. Maybe they wanted to rebrand the product?

    Getting to moral concerns, there’s the whole situation with a boatload of mythical creatures, and a ton of them use magic to fight. Some of the spells might be based on a higher power, such as “retribution” and “judgement,” and the dark element typically uses sacrifices to power their spells. Wraiths, undead creatures, and “necrowitchers,” are just some of the many combatants. The female character art also shows off cleavage. According to the ESRB, there is blood in the game, but I personally didn’t see it.

    Deck Casters (also known as ArmaGallant) tried a lot with its concept, but didn’t manage to stick out in any meaningful way. As the game has no sustainability whatsoever in its player base, the only thing you can do is smack around the AI [i]ad infinitum[/i] unless you can convince a friend or group to put down $15 (or you gift the game to friends yourself). If you can successfully manage to do that, you might get some value out of it. I wouldn’t call it a bad game, but it’s not a good one either. I feel that Deck Casters came out way too late to capitalize on the MOBA craze as anyone who wants to play a MOBA at this point will stick to the four or five established ones. It potentially could have found more success if it focused completely on the real-time strategy aspect, but it’s best to pass on this product, unfortunate that it is to say.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Gigantic
    Developer: Motiga inc.
    Published by: Perfect World Entertainment
    Release Date: July 19, 2017
    Available on: Windows, Xbox One.
    Genre: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.
    Players: 10
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Violence
    Price: Free to play with micro-transactions.

    Thanks Perfect World Entertainment for the Ultimate Pack!

    In the world of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas, competition can be stiff. Today I'll see if Gigantic, a new MOBA competitor can crush the competition.

    In Gigantic, you and a team of five warriors fight alongside the giant guardians Leiran the griffin and Grenn the naga. You gather power for them by capturing points with summoned creatures that can gather energy for you. If you wish you can also gather energy directly from the points without a creature. Once your Guardian gets a full bar of energy, they attack the enemy guardian and they will pin them down for you to attack. You cannot damage an enemy Guardian without your Guardian's help. Once you do enough damage to inflict a wound to the enemy guardian your guardian will reset their position. You claim victory by inflicting three wounds against your opponent.

    The warriors you choose all fulfill roles from supporting allies to front-lining in battle. The main creatures you summon to hold capture points mine the energy for your Guardian. As you level up in the matches you may choose a talent to power up each skill in the way you choose. At level 5 you unlock a powerful passive. You start with an ultimate ability at level one that needs to build a charge instead of being on cooldown. Your charge can also be spent to instantly upgrade a creature that is standing on a point.

    Gigantic
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Every character seems fun and colorful in this MOBA, and none of them feel like a waste to use.
    Weak Points: It doesn't have much that sets it apart from more popular alternatives; its most unique aspect, creature loadouts, has the potential to make the game pay to win, we will have to wait and see. 
    Moral Warnings: The characters have a cartoony explosion on death; some use magic is in this game but not to a important degree.

    Now despite lengthy development time to the full release of Gigantic, it doesn't have a good unique take yet to separate itself from the competition. The gigantic guardians are glorified base objectives. We have had other MOBAs that require special objectives to attack a base before such as some modes in Heroes of the Storm. Holding objectives isn't a unique seller either. The warriors you can choose from all have fun abilities, but nothing that makes the game shine from its competitors yet.

    The creatures are a bit of a negative unique point to talk about. In the in-game shop you can buy alternate creatures for your load out. The mountain cyclops for example can be turned into a snow cyclops that creates icy areas around the battlefield to slow down opponents. It costs 11,000 in-game coins to purchase this or 675 premium currency which equals about $6.75 in real money. Now while the snow cyclops only gets 100 more Hit Points and only gains the ability to freeze foes, it's still a noticeable upgrade. As Gigantic's metagame develops this could turn into a very abused pay to win feature. No game that wants to be a multiplayer competitive game should lock something extremely important behind a paywall to be competitive.

    So I was gifted the Ultimate Package which unlocks all heroes in the game now as well as future heroes that will come to the game at a later date. I decided to grind the daily quest cards I had to get in-game coins before I activated the pack. They are generous at the beginning and as you level up your account you can draw more quest cards to get coins. After the initial set of beginner's quest I was sitting at about 5,000 coins which was enough for a few of the characters while some cost a full 10,000 coins. From a casual play perspective every character seems fun and usable but as Gigantics metagame develops people may prefer particular characters. The pack is definitely a pay to grind less option that may put some newcomers off who can't play the characters that their team asks of them.

    Now despite these issues Gigantic has the most important aspect of a competitive multiplayer game down. It's fun, the characters seem well balanced and with the card system they use to award players in-game currency, it doesn't take too long to grind up coins to purchase new heroes, skins or creatures. The characters all feel strong and competitive in their own way. While plenty of people may argue balance in the forums and Steam hubs, you'll have fun with the summoners, warriors and various classes of characters in Gigantic.

    Gigantic
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The graphics have a nice painted feel to them but nothing stood out and blew me away. The giant griffin and naga are nice to look at but you don't really have time to look at them anyway. The soundtrack and sound effects are pretty average too. Some people may say that no one really cares about graphics or sound in a competitive game. This is untrue; little touches on certain character skins or in the map you're fighting in add to the experience for both casual and competitive players.

    Some quick side notes: if you install through Steam a second launcher will be installed on your computer as well. If you tend to suffer lag or glitches when you launch a Steam game only to have to activate another launcher, I recommend installing the Gigantic launcher on its own. Keep in mind as of right now the game asks for six gigabytes of ram at least to play the game well; they are working on optimizing the game for lower end PCs but this will not affect my score.

    I will not judge Gigantic based on comparisons to other games in the genre. I also wont judge current metagame, game balance opinions or e-sports potential. Anyone, reviewer or gamer, who gets angry when a game has even the smallest of similar mechanics to their favorite competitive game is usually a hyper fan of some sort. League of Legends wasn't the only MOBA that had potential and now we have several mainstay MOBAs in the world. Gigantic has every right to exist in a competitive genre. Gigantic's meta wont be developed for at least another month or two and I would be a fool to make calls about certain characters or abilities in the game before the competitive nature of Gigantic has a deeper analysis to it. That being said, while Gigantic has a lot of potential to grow its community and it has a pretty end story in its development, it's still a very average game.

    From a moral standpoint, the violence is pretty tame. The enemies explode into smoke when defeated, and some characters use magic but it is never focused upon in the game. Gigantic is purely focuses on winning against your opponent.

    While Gigantic has a lot of competition and it's only starting it does have the chance to avoid common pitfalls in the competitive gaming genre. I wish them the best of luck and hopefully they will bring a unique experience to MOBA players.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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