Abalon was released in May 2023. D20Studios LLC developed this game, and there is a Steam demo if you want to try the game before buying. This tactical deckbuilding RPG has steam cards and achievements. Also, the game supports multiple languages besides English and is playable with controllers.
The player goes on an adventure, and lore about the world is slowly unlocked. Each summoner does not get a unique story and it changes based on the chapter you chose. The lore is found after winning a fight but gives some minor details about the game and some enemies you may find.
Explain the mechanics of the game and how to win fights, use spells, etc. It is thorough and easy to follow if you have played RPG games before.
Start with 2 Mana, and the player can store up to five mana if mana is unused in previous turns. There are some spells that allow you to get more mana as well.
At the start, you can try 1 of 6 summoners. Each has a different starting deck and abilities. Some can do ranged attacks, while others are melee only. To get more summoners, you need to play cards or meet certain conditions, such as playing elementals or playing undead.
Choosing a stronger summoner may not be advantageous. The chapter bosses have more HP and are more difficult to defeat. If your summoner dies during combat, you lose, or it costs one retry. If you are still learning the game, take healing or buff spells to maintain health.
Gameplay And Combat
Position matters since you can do backstab damage if the enemy is facing the opposite direction. Backstab means you do not take damage by attacking from the front or sides. Also, you can do extra combo damage by attacking and having two units on the front and side of the enemy.
To beat the campaign, you need to finish three different chapters. Each chapter has a different difficulty, and you can do them in any order. There are obstacles, such as trees or rocks, that limit walking. Learn to take advantage of that by killing stronger enemies first or keeping your summoner behind the obstacle.
You can undo a turn if you make a mistake or to see how the AI will move and attack. There are keyboard shortcuts for some of the actions to save time, such as end turn.
There is some randomness when moving around the map because the map is hidden until you walk to the next tile. There are shops, battles, treasure areas, and other encounters where you can train a creature or other situations. Even if you go into a harder battle, you can retreat, so check the enemies before starting.
Each chapter is six by six tiles for thirty tiles total. There is a fast travel option that allows you to go to any tile you previously visited. This is a great time-saving feature because it reduces the time spent walking around the map. In each chapter, there is at least one shop (red flag) and two treasure areas.
Elite fights are shown with gray skulls and dice in different encounters, such as the chance to get a guardian.
To reach the boss, the player needs to find the boss key. Usually the key drops after beating an elite fight. Before fighting, heal up and use satchel cards to increase your chances of winning. If you have an aggressive deck or a boss has high HP, attack the boss first. If they die, you win the fight and do not need to kill the other enemies.
If you are losing and want to restart, you can exit the game without saving and retry with a different strategy since the game does not autosave.
Difficulty and Modifiers
Three modes – Novice, normal, and hard. Novice is forgiving with nine retries and five extra health. Normal only has three retries, and boss fights will be harder.
After winning a fight, you get a choice between 3 cards to add to your deck. Spells can be included in your choice. Also, gold and new lore appear as loot.
You can have up to twenty cards in your deck. At turn one, you draw three cards. If any card dies during combat, it goes to discard. You can only play that card again after resting at campfire.
Each deck can have up to two guardians. They have more health and special effects compared to normal cards in your deck. If possible, try to keep them alive and you can revive them at camps.
Satchel contains special cards that can only be played before a battle. Ideal to use before elite and boss fights. Once used, it’s gone from your satchel. They should be used when needed. Otherwise, you may waste a retry.
After unlocking cards, they can be used in future runs when choosing a specific deck. This allows for unlimited deck choices and combos.
Campsite: Each map has 2-3 camps. You can choose to rest or take the marshmallows. Marshmallows allow players to rest at any campfire you find. During this time, you can edit your deck and rotate guardians if you have more than two.
Graphics and Sound
The view is top-down third person, just like a tabletop. The game art is average and resembles games in the early 2000s. The areas you fight vary from forest, dungeon, and other areas.
There is unique music for each of the chapters and when battle starts/ends a short tune is played.
During the battle, enemies make hurt sounds when taking damage. Your summoner and units make battle cry effects when combat starts and when taking damage. The actual battle sounds are not exciting since they are metal clanking noises or spell effects like the ice freeze effect.
Survival – Play units and kill off as many waves as possible. You can choose your summoner/deck and gain resources after killing waves off. It is good for learning different decks and understanding combat strategy. This mode is funner than going through other maps since the player is thrust into combat, and you need to use satchel cards effectively to win. Survival mode was a bright spot, and I hope they spend time developing this mode more.
Battle- Choose a summoner and fight against a summoner. It is good for beginners to learn keywords and abilities after finishing the tutorial. It takes 5 minutes to win.
Speed up option for fights. If there are multiple opponents, it can take extra time to see each time the enemy moves and attacks.
Reduce map size. Each map has over 30 tiles to uncover, so each level takes 45 minutes to an hour. Reducing fights and encounters will make it faster to reach the boss and allow player to try other summoner decks if they want to unlock new cards. There are 2-3 tiles that are empty, so those can be removed.
Art and sound are mediocre and do not enhance the RPG aspect of the game. As the player, I want to be immersed in the gameplay.
Change card and deck rules. Increase draw to 4 cards and edit spells so they can only be drawn after turn 3. In many cases, you draw a spell and don’t use it until later in the fight.
Abalon is a Turn-based Deckbuilder with multiple characters to try and different bosses. Each run can feel similar since half of the encounters are fights with 3-5 units, and combat is repetitive. The time needed to beat levels is too long, and the card/deck aspect of the game could be improved. Most players will get 5-10 hours of enjoyment.
Thank you to D20Studios, LLC for providing the game for review.