Developer: Lightmare Studios | Publisher: Lightmare Studios/Yodo1 Games || Overall: 8.0/10
Infinity Wars: Animated Trading Card Game is an online free-to-play game that has its roots in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign. After being in Early Access since 2014, its official release at the end of 2016 is known as “Reborn.” Featuring a unique lore, an amalgamation of all sorts of different sci-fi and fantasy tropes and tons of interesting cards, Infinity Wars is an enjoyable experience even if you never play against another player. Considering the subtitle, yes, every single card in the game is animated, of which there are hundreds available. PC trading card games are not a usual go-to for me and Hearthstone is the only frame of reference I have to the genre.
The standout feature of Infinity Wars certainly comes with its art. It is a lot of fun seeing all of the great (and some not so great) animated cards. While many of the cards are simply characters breathing heavily and moving their shoulders up and down or things flailing in the wind, there are certainly many others that have a lot more going on. Considering the amount of cards available, I spent a good two hours or so browsing through the collection that is offered, just to see it all. While browsing the collection doesn’t sound enthralling, it felt worthwhile just to see the standouts and the unique vision that goes into the art direction. Many cards have story text on top of them, giving you a glimpse into a specific piece of lore; figuring out how all of the bits work together in the larger narrative is also part of the fun.
There isn’t a whole lot of actual story to read through, but you eventually are able to piece things together as you are exposed to the different cards and the single player campaign. The basic idea is that there are multiple dimensions and due to some event, portals open up and the inhabitants are now able to cross back and forth freely between different versions of the world. The factions are all unique in some form, whether they are hypertechnological, nano-machine zombies, a magical death cult, or Asian-inspired monks, among others. Most of the factions are at war with each other and have their own unique cultures/events that shaped their reaction towards what is happening with the portals. Not everything is super serious, however, as there are humorous aspects and one faction in particular, called Genesis, can be a little crazy with the kinds of technology they produce. There are a few important characters, but they are mostly self-contained in their own faction campaign. Each of the worlds introduced have their own version of a character named “Aleta” who is immortal and has taken on extremely different roles depending on each of the dimensions; she usually takes a lead in the factions she is a part of. There’s a bit more going on in the universe than just the portal event(s), but it’s an interesting set-up nonetheless.
The single player campaign will take you through the six different faction’s plight through the game’s scenario and the encounters they have. While the game actually has eight factions at the moment, you’ll be able to play around with a few different configurations in the six that do have campaigns. Up until the last mission for each faction you will play with pre-constructed decks and you’ll learn about the mechanics that are unique to that faction. In the last mission you’ll be able to use a constructed or previously-earned deck to beat it and earn a set of cards for the faction you just completed for the campaign mode. Since most of the campaign levels are pre-constructed, you basically have to figure out the “puzzle” that the encounter is posing and play correct enough to beat the AI. It is essentially an elongated tutorial mode at the end of the day.
There are a few aspects of Infinity Wars that are noticeably different from my experience with Hearthstone. For instance, nearly every card does something unique; it is rare to see a card that does “nothing.” Both players take turns at the same time so you have to anticipate the moves that your enemy will or will not take and you are even able to undo your actions before you lock them in; spells will typically be cast first before character cards are placed, but initiative swaps between players on who’s spells go first. While constructing your deck, you can have up to three cards assigned to a “Command Zone” which is useful mostly for Hero cards. They can be put into battle at any time (as long as you can pay their cost) or you can pay for the card’s on-use ability to buff existing cards or do something to your enemy’s cards. The Grave zone is also where all of your discards go, but due to a number of different mechanics you can pull cards out of it again. If a card is completely removed from the game, the card usually says so and they aren’t put into the discard pile — they just go poof.
There are three zones to place your cards in during play that force you to tactically consider your options as you plan your turns: Support Zone, Assault Zone, and Defense Zone. The Support Zone is a bit unique as it is used as a waiting room as well as an area to use cards that have on-use abilities. Cards in the Support Zone can only be targeted with certain spells and are out of reach from anything in your Assault/Defense zones. The Assault Zone will fight only against your enemy’s Defense Zone, and vice versa. If you break through the defense, the opponent’s Health (aka Fortress) will incur damage, of which they have 100. When character cards get killed, you will lose the Morale cost associated with the card, of which you also have 100 Morale. While Health of your fortress is more straightforward, Morale offers an extra layer of strategy, whether it be defensive or offensive. It is usually more effective to focus on one or the other since your opponent will be trying to do the same to you.
The “business” parts of Infinity Wars are a bit more open in comparison to Hearthstone. Since Hearthstone‘s single player modes are always paid, it is nice to see the single player campaigns added to Infinity Wars are an incentive to play and learn the game. Log-in bonuses are also awarded and increase for sequential log-ins per day. There are also missions available that allow you to earn “Infinity Points” which can then be used to buy more cards. The missions don’t stick around until you finish them, though, as they will reset everyday and a new set of three is given. Free constructed decks that anyone can use are revised weekly to give a fairer base to work off of as you build your own collection. These decks are mostly intended for player combat as you can only play against the AI so much. It takes a couple of minutes to find an appropriate game, but once you are in it is a whole different level of difficulty as players are able to strategize much better (just like in almost any multiplayer mode) and bring uniquely constructed decks with them.
Unfortunately to get a true feel for the PVP aspect of this game, you’ll have to spend a lot of time researching what the best cards are and how to construct effective decks due to the complexity of how cards can potentially interact with one another. A quick look at the community you’ll have to rely on shows a lot of griping about overpowered cards and the like. For me, I was satisfied enough with the PVE challenges up to a point, but to be able to build out a respectable collection you’re going to have to grind points quite a bit. On the plus side, every single card is available by way of playing and using in-game currency to purchase (even if it might take you a long time). PVP matches can also take a little time to get going since the user base is smaller. There are Constructed and Draft modes, and each come with the typical caveats you would expect if you have experience with the genre.
Audio isn’t particularly a standout here. Music isn’t awful, but the variety feels lacking. It would have been nice, for example, to have unique soundtracks for each faction as you play through the campaign. Voice acting is also a bit amateurish, some bits of dialogue seem to have been skipped completely, and often times you’ll see typos across a variety of dialogue windows. None of these things necessarily take away from the card game itself, and I can respect an indie game studio trying to get a diverse-sounding cast for all of the characters that have lines. With that said, there is definitely room for improvement.
Infinity Wars: Reborn is an interesting trading card game that can help broaden your knowledge of the genre. I found it to initially be easy to get into and understand and the complexity comes later as you hit up the more competitive modes. Updates come on a regular basis, so if you decide to take a break or come back to it at a later time you’ll see something new you didn’t see before. Infinity Wars: Reborn is available on Steam now.