Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is a new tabletop-inspired RPG developed by Square Enix and Alim, set to release on October 26th for Steam, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. Helmed by director Maasa Mimura and scenario written by Yuuki Matsuo creative director Yoko Taro, executive producer Yosuke Saito, music by Keiichi Okabe, and character design by Kimihiko Fujisaka, the Drakengard and NieR alum assemble for a card-based RPG that adopts the aesthetics of a tabletop presentation, even if it’s more aligned with a typical console-style RPG.
And it’s an attractive aesthetic, with Fujisaka’s character design and cards representing near all aspects of the game. The game master, voiced by Todd Haberkorn, handles the narration and dialogue, lending a more intimate ambience to the game, as if the storyteller was in the same room.
The demo for the game is available now, and we checked out the PlayStation 4 version running on a PlayStation 5. This prologue chapter features three protagonists joined in a fellowship that is tasked with retrieving a stolen royal treasure one day before the events of the final game. It’s this simple set up that ingratiates you to the world’s presentation: one represented entirely of cards. In various scenes, character cards are animated with nuances that their actions express while the narrator voices their lines and thoughts.
Off on their quest, the fellowship moves through tile-based maps represented by cards themselves. Moving about may trigger event scenes, or even traps – which can be avoided by a successful die roll. As you move about, adjacent cards are flipped to become visible, while distant cards remain behind a fog of war until you approach. You can instantly move back to previous tiles you uncover with the right analog stick, which makes navigating areas simple.
While inspired by tabletop RPGs, it’s when you step out onto the world map that the world feels more like a classic console RPG. When moving along the tiles, you can trigger random events or combat encounters. Combatants have a health, attack, and defense value, along with abilities that can be deployed by consuming “jewels,” a resource that replenishes every turn. Which character gets to use these jewels depends on the enemy types your fighting and their kit – where one character that may lead offensively in one fight may be better suited to support in another. Successful battles yield experience points, gold, and sometimes treasure; experience points will level up characters, who will learn new abilities. Equipment upgrades and items can also be purchased in town. There’s also a French-suit card minigame that can be played in town, which has you building sets or straights of the highest values.
At this point, it’s difficult to tell how much further tabletop mechanics will contribute to the gameplay, and I’m not sure how much the game needs to really, with a strong story and presentation alongside these core mechanics.
The full game will feature new protagonists: a hero that sets off to defeat the recently awakened dragon, Mar, a monster that is attached to him, and Melanie, a black witch dead set on slaying aforementioned dragon.
Below you can see our playthrough of the demo in its entirety and browse our gallery of screenshots.