Despite the ability of our entertainment consoles and devices to generate hi-resolution graphics that border on photorealistic, there’s just something about loading up a digital trading-card game (TCG) and battling against a friend that still has appeal.
The popularity of such games as Magic: The Gathering and Blizzard’s recently released Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is proof of that.
Australian indie developer Lightmare Studios is hoping its crowdfunded TCG, Infinity Wars, will capture the imaginations of the same audiences. The game was released on PC and Mac (via Steam) in February, and is currently in “alpha” for iOS and Android, with a release planned by the end of June. Since the game was released, there have been over 4.5 million matches fought.
Infinity Wars has been in development for over 15 months, starting with a team of four and soon utilizing the help of other contributors around the world, including some students who helped with the elements of the game’s creation. Lightmare has turned around and given paid internships to some local school kids to give back to the community.
As for the gameplay, Lightmare built Infinity Wars to be a deep strategy game that’s easy to learn, but hard to master. It’ll provide a ton of single-player enjoyment, with 120 quests that’ll keep you busy while you collect cards, as well as lots of PvP opportunities. Players in competitive games make their moves simultaneously, which introduces a predictive element to the gameplay—forcing players to try to guess what the opponent will do, while perhaps bluffing what their next moves will be to keep the opponent guessing. Games average about ten minutes, so they won’t take a big bite out of your day—you can get in and out of a game quickly if you want.
As with many mobile titles, Infinity Wars is free to play, though if you want to customize the experience—with new decks, card backs, avatars, alternate art, etc.—you’ll be able to spend some real cash to bring them into your game. Nothing you buy, though, will get you an advantage in the gameplay, the developers promise. There’s also a “master and apprentice” system in place where you can refer new players into the game and you’ll both receive bonuses as an incentive/reward.
One of the cool selling points is the fact that the more than 300 cards (with new cards and content introduced each week) that comprise Infinity Wars are animated, which makes the gameplay more lively. The 3D battlefields are also animated, so there’s plenty of eye candy to be had here, and location cards enable you to, in the words of David Harding, manager at Lightmare, “transform the battlefield into something else.”
Adding to that is the introduction of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a premium add-on that will release in the near future. Though the 20 new cards that make up the expansion won’t mesh up with the deep Infinity Wars canon—and won’t be playable in ranked games—Lightmare CEO Elphie Coyle says that it fits “very well into the way Infinity Wars is designed.” It does show, however, the different directions in which Lightmare hopes to take the overall game. As Coyle tells it, the developer wants to create “a culture of the things that make people [into a] fanboy/girl when they see a mention of them.”
While Magic: The Gathering is a classic (having first been introduced in 1993) and Hearthstone is a TCG that builds off of a computer-game franchise that’s been around for two decades, Infinity Wars is a fresh challenger that brings some new aspects to the table. And soon you won’t need a table or a computer to play it.