AR­TI­FACT IS AN IN­TRI­CATE AND RE­WARD­ING CARD GAME. $27.95 | PC | store.steam­pow­

TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER -

MUCH HAS BEEN made of Ar­ti­fact’s com­plex­ity. It’s cer­tainly true that a lot of the game’s con­cepts will be new to even sea­soned card game play­ers. The three lane setup, which I’ve touched upon, cer­tainly falls into this cat­e­gory. Ar­ti­fact also has a DOTA- in­spired item sys­tem – ev­ery turn, there’s a pur­chas­ing phase where play­ers can spend gold earned from hero and creep kills on items to buff up their he­roes. And then there’s the ‘ini­tia­tive’ me­chanic, which sees play­ers trade ac­tions back-and-forth hot potato style, with the last player to act ced­ing their ini­tia­tive to the op­po­nent when play moves to the next lane.

All that said, I’m not sure Ar­ti­fact’s learn­ing cure is as mas­sive as some are mak­ing out. The tu­to­rial, while on the brief side, does a good job of ex­plain­ing the ba­sics of how to play. I wasn’t 100 per­cent on all of the nu­ances after I’d fin­ished train­ing, but I def­i­nitely knew enough to mud­dle through. It helps that Ar­ti­fact’s turn struc­ture fol­lows a pre­dictable rhythm, with hero de­ploy­ment, item-shop­ping at the end, and rounds of com­bat in each of the three lanes in be­tween. I got the hang of things quite quickly.

Valve has done a great job craft­ing Ar­ti­fact’s vi­su­als, too. Mis­chievous imps dart around the board, ship­ping the decks from lane to lane, winc­ing when your life to­tal is low and guf­faw­ing when you ap­ply the lethal blow. The in­ter­face is strong too. In­for­ma­tion about cards is very easy to ac­cess: a quick dou­ble click will blow one up to full screen, where you can read the de­scrip­tion more clearly, and mouse over any un­known key­words to quickly get their def­i­ni­tion.

Value for money, I’m well aware, is go­ing to be a big fac­tor for many look­ing to buy the game. But the strength of the de­sign will be enough to keep me hooked. Not only is Ar­ti­fact’s depth re­mark­able, it also doesn’t come at any great loss of ac­ces­si­bil­ity. I’m ex­cited to see the metagame de­velop over the com­ing weeks and months.

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