Recycling has a very bad press on the video game. There is a general impression that doing everything from scratch is more valuable than profiting from what already works, which clearly undermines the possibilities of the medium. And indeed, it is recycled identically, whether we like it or not in the public sector, something which in some cases, like Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden, has allowed the game to surprise almost nothing, but it would also have iterated from a known base that it takes good account of to make something more interesting and better, but also with some black spots that start to border on dangerous.
To begin with, it is important to understand the context in which this game appears. His previous release, the first in the Voice of Cards franchise, The Isle Dragon Roars, was released on October 28, 2021 (you can read his review here). This has very obvious consequences: except that they try to develop completely in parallel, and even if they did, it was to be expected that this delivery would follow the pattern of the first, recycling resources not only in the artistic field, but also in mechanics. And that was exactly the case.
The Forsaken Maiden sees, plays and feels exactly the same as The Isle Dragon Roars. Our avatar is a tabletop game file that moves between maps that represent the terrain, the battles are those of a classic JRPG, and our possible actions are determined by the crystals, of which we win one each turn. one of our characters, and the data shots, which are physically executed before our eyes. Our characters, enemies, objects and the scene are card games, but it is not a card game, according to what it is, officially, the particular style of Voice of Cards: the aesthetics of the game board game, classic JRPG mechanics.
In this sense, recycling is obvious, but never terrible. Although some of the main characters recycle an NPC’s portrait from The Isle Dragon Roars, as is the case with most NPCs, stage clutter, and almost all objects, this never seems to be an issue. Although you can shake the premise, the story and the narrative are very different, and what in principle may seem the same immediately becomes very different. Because if anything is certain, it’s that in some ways The Forsaken Maiden is a far more polished game than The Isle Dragon Roars.
Where The Forsaken Maiden stands out the most is in the narrative. Focusing more on the characters and less on the story, their moves and world building, the emotional involvement we have with the actions is much greater because on this occasion we have a genuine interest and affection for the people involved. This time the perspective is much smaller, so we have to save a small island or a girl who seems to have a power that should have, but the involvement is much greater, so everything will explain the consequences of the events to them involved. It is not for nothing that the story of an archipelago where each island has a priest who keeps the ship afloat for his relationship with the spirits who protect them, with many others hunted before, at a time when the ‘Island of the End will do its honor. in his name thanks to not having a priest until a mysterious young girl appears, to whom all the repudiants, less than our innocent protagonist.
De ahí, the story has some twists and turns, emotional moments, but it follows the classic structure of a JRPG. Let’s visit each of the other islands, located at the four cardinal points, and ask the priests of each of them who give us their relics to make sure that our mysterious new friend can become a priest of our island. But this is also where one of the big novelties of The Forsaken Maiden is, because our group changes completely on each island.
We’ve always had two characters on our team – the protagonist and Laty, the mysterious girl – but the other two positions were different. It would be, but it is always composed by the same person: who is the priest and the servant of each island. In this way, on each island, we tend to know the tribulations of their priests, to help them as far as we can, to gain their trust and to become their friends by fighting alongside them, so that we leave behind their relics to be able to follow our way, in the best of the cases, to leave them with the guard of their islands. Something that makes us want to constantly renew our way of playing, so that only two of the four characters will be a constant, making them adapt to the style of play to which we invite the two guest characters.
This makes the game much more flexible than the original. The amount of skills, both active and passive, is quite extensive, so configuring and reconfiguring our two characters depending on who we share this particular adventure is extremely important. All this, added to the very minor importance of the team – that we can only change it in the case of the protagonist and Laty, and from there we cannot change his weapon -, since the game has a mechanically more strategic sense and, at the same time, a major emotional implication.
It is also more strategic because it is much more varied in its techniques. With fights that use movement in the scene, scenes where we have to learn enemy movement patterns to move forward in style, or the satisfaction that is exploration, now done almost entirely on board, making the game better and imaginative, as if, once the base was laid, it could have evolved towards places that weren’t necessarily more original, which didn’t bring anything extraordinarily new, but which are much more lively and interesting.
All of this is worth noting that, including more than The Isle Dragon Roars, it’s obvious that this is a Yoko Taro game. Both in the drawings and in the music and of course, his humor, his hand is much appreciated, but also in the form of carrying the narrative, loaded with drama and countless losses, reaching certain points of which being overwhelmed Yoko Taro, almost like if it was a parody of himself out of control. From this adolescence is above all a finale which is not bad, but which brings out the plateau.
It should be noted that, unfortunately, the defects of the first remain intact here, in some cases amplified. Random fights continue to be excessive, contributing nothing considering that the amount of experience and gold we earn in the same is irritating, which is more and more problematic than in the original, because the number of mandatory fights has historically also increased a lot. Tampoco ayudan all the moments in which, at the head of a boss, the game allows us to watch until we have passed all its sections, we are forced to draw successions between four and six fights, being able to perfectly waste between twenty minutes and an hour at a time. , something particularly bloody when it happens, precisely, in the most complex encounters of the game.
It gives us a sweet taste. While the formula has been exhausted, taking it into more interesting terrain, both narrative and mechanical, it still has the same issues as The Isle Dragon Roars: excessive random combat, questionable design decisions, and, like a pastel trick, frustrating . which confuses involving the player by punishing their decisions and making them feel bad for their choices, something that doesn’t end the game, but that it’s already clear the approach had to be something else.
Because so much recycles, it’s unlikely that in four months they’ll be able to make this game. The idea was probably to create a franchise from the start, to show that each island depends on a character from The Isle Dragon Roars. And for that, it would be easy to understand why the most obvious errors of this were not avoided: because at the end of the accounts, they occurred in parallel, pretending to use the same formula. Something to fear, because if The Forsaken Maiden performs well, and performs even better than The Isle Dragon Roars, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a new installment where its flaws are eclipsed by many of its virtues. And that’s why, even though it’s a fabulous game, and both Voice of Cards are both amazing classic JRPGs, you’re already going through a wooden frame that’s just as easy to finish as if you were going through it again like if nothing happened.