Developer: Sony Bend/One Loop Games
It appears there are a number of people upset over the existence of Fight for Fortune. I guess when you announce a new Uncharted game for the Vita and it turns out to be a card game, that might upset the masses. For myself, on the other hand, this was not an unwelcome announcement. I’m a big strategic card game fan, and I always welcome a new entry into the digital domain. It’s harder for me now to invest in physical cards and find people and time to play with, so I welcome new card games on my handhelds and mobile devices. That being said, regardless of Uncharted license, this isn’t a great card game.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I played through the tutorial was, “oh my goodness, this is Kard Combat.” Kard Combat is an iOS free-to-play card game with nearly the exact same mechanics as Fight for Fortune (FFF). The gist of it is a playing surface that has two opposing rows of five card slots. Cards opposing one another battle, and a card facing an empty slot attacks the player’s health. All cards attack during your turn if capable. There is no choice unlike in Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh.
Cards are played to the field from your hand, although your hand is not typical. All of the cards available to you for the entire match are laid out in three columns. You can play any one card from your hand as long as you can pay the cost. There is a number above each column, which is the pool to pay for cards in that column, and the count increases by one every turn (cards can enhance this). Cards cannot attack the turn they were placed on the board.
The gameplay mechanics that differentiate FFF from Kard Combat are the fortune and equipment cards. A fortune card can be placed on a character in play that has a certain amount of gold associated with it. There are methods to bank that gold including defeating an opposing character card. Gold is spent before the attack phase on equipment cards that do things like raise and lower attack and defense power.
As a single player game, you play matches against a series of Uncharted heroes and villains. Defeating them in turn unlocks the next challenge as well as some kind of reward, like a new card or new avatar portrait. There are multiple rewards per character if you play and defeat them over and over again. In multiplayer, you have the option to either pass and play on a single system or play asynchronously over the internet.
This all sounds like a competent and well thought out card game. So where does it all fall apart? There are actually multiple major issues starting with basic game mechanics. The way a round plays out is kind of broken. Attacks only happen in one direction, meaning character cards don’t trade damage. If I’m attacking with a 2/1 card and there is an 8/2 card across from it, the 8/2 card is destroyed and the 2/1 card is fine. This is so counterintuitive to me.
Let’s talk about how this becomes annoying and why defense is so important. When you play a character onto the field, they can not attack that turn. Let’s say there is an 8/8 card on the field (I’m looking at you cheater Drake). I certainly need to put a card across from it to keep that damage from going through. The best I have available is a 4/3. I can’t attack with it due to “summoning sickness,” but the battle during the opponent’s turn. Logically, or at least experience in these games has taught me, those characters will exchange blows, I’d lose my card from the 8 damage, and I would have chipped some life off and left him with an 8/4. But since attacks only happen in one direction, the 8/8 wipes out my 4/3 and take no damage itself. I’m left with a card disadvantage and no progress towards removing the 8/8. I’d have to play a card with at least 9 health to survive the round and even hope to chip some of that 8 health off the next turn. Honestly, that imbalance alone sucks any of the fun out right there.
The rest of the drawbacks aren’t game breaking, but nevertheless pile on. Characters can “combo” if they are placed next to certain other character cards. This gives bonuses like plus attack or defense. To see what combos are available, you need to click and hold and individual card, which is extremely annoying and time consuming if you want to check all available cards in your hand. Besides the combos, which feels bolted on, there isn’t much in the way of deck synergy. Deck building is a near impossibility due to lack of obvious synergy, no actual slots to save a deck in (you have the one working deck), and a user interface that just honestly isn’t meant for deck building. AI opponents have different win conditions and can do things like start with a high level card already in play. While props are due for creativity, the execution is annoying, and I would have preferred straightforward, engaging matches to carry the game. Multiplayer being asynchronous only makes it basically unusable. There is hardly anyone online to even make a match, and everyone quits when they feel like they are going to lose.
This was a big disappointment for me, and not for the reason most people are upset (not a real Uncharted game). I love to find a new digital card game to play. I can’t even recommend this as a cheap $5 game, when there are free card games out there that are more or similarly engaging. I’m no fan of Kard Combat, but at least it’s free. It’s a catch 22. I applaud the effort of making this type of game on the Vita because I want to see more in this genre, but I can’t blatantly support a game that’s not very much fun to play.