Dengen Chronicles, An In-Depth Review

6.4 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 5/10
Sounds: 6/10
Graphics: 7/10

Simple time waster. | Character cards can be dressed up in equipment.

Next to no strategy required. | Difficult to play for free.

iOS, Android, and Windows phone.

Free to play, with in-game purchases.

November 1,2013

English, Chinese, French, German, Italian

Dengen Chronicles is a roleplaying casual card battle game based around a manga universe with four bloodlines: ninja, robot, fantasy and high school characters. It features a unique combat grid and elemental system of card placement. Furthermore, all of your character cards are fully customizable with various pieces of clothing and equipment that actually change their attack and defense values.

Dengen Chronicles comes up with some interesting new ideas, but is it a good game? Read on to find out…

tactical-mode1

The Tactical Fight mode of combat is the game’s main combat mode, featuring a rather unusual battlefield which is one of the most innovative aspects it brings to this genre.

Gameplay

In Dengen Chronicles, you’ll have a deck of a certain amount of cards (that increases as you level up and unlock more deck slots). There are two card types: Characters, and “Dengen” cards, which function as “spells” of sorts to modify attack and defense values.

The battlefield is a circular grid of 6 slots, each with a particular elemental affinity. Players take turns placing a character onto one of the slots: if the character shares an affinity with that slot, it will stay there permanently, but if it doesn’t, it’s only allowed to stay for one turn before disappearing.

Interestingly, the attack of a character goes around the grid in a wave, hitting any enemies in the way before stopping at a character that can soak up the damage and not die. If the attack passes through any Dengen cards placed onto a tile, the attack will be modified by the card. You’re trying to damage enemy characters enough so that their defense reaches zero and they die.

Character cards are more like customizable units; you can upgrade their level which in turn boosts their capacity to be equipped with stronger items that modify their base values. This system will be discussed more below.

There isn’t much strategy here. You just have to look at how best to place your characters so that they get to attack more often than the enemy characters, and make sure that you don’t place any low-defense characters in the attack path of high-attack enemies. Occasionally you’ll be concerned about the elemental placement, but since characters have an affinity for 4 of the 6 elements, you’ll usually be able to fit them somewhere. It becomes a “highest number wins” game with not much thought behind it.

character-view

A character from the “ninja” bloodline, showing various items, clothing, equipment and even a companion creature that are attached to the character.

Modes and Features

Dengen Chronicles has no single-player campaign, so all of the playable modes are online against other players’ decks (and AI-controlled, at that). The first and main one is the Tactical Fight mode, described above. You’ll be able to choose through a limited list of other players who are of a similar level to you. Winning will get you XP, gold and sometimes other rewards. Overall, I don’t find it to be a particularly exciting game mode, but it’s the main way of progressing through the game.

The other playable mode is Ambush, which focuses more on 1-to-1 character battles, after the game randomly selects 5 of your deck’s characters to take into battle. You put forward a character, choose a Dengen card to attach to it and hope that it’s higher than what your opponent has. Win the individual fight and you’ll get a point. You need to win most of the 5 rounds to win the match. I didn’t enjoy this mode at all, because all I had to do was play all of my cards in order from the highest value to the lowest value and hope it beat the opponent’s cards. It just doesn’t involve any interesting strategic decisions or interaction with the opponent.

ambush-mode

Ambush mode provides another way to play the game, at least, although it’s even less satisfying than the main game because you’re just throwing out your highest value cards and hoping they’re higher than what your opponent has.

There is a shop selling packs which give you the resources you need to level up your characters and refresh the quantity of uses for your Dengen cards (because they have “stamina” which you need to replenish). Occasionally new characters will be in the packs as well, but I found this to be much rarer than getting other resources. The quality of the items and cards you get depend on which level boosters you buy, from levels 1 to 5 (with increasing costs). Only the lower ones offer a free-to-play path to gaining cards and resources, so it’s a long grind from there.

You can also buy premium Dengen cards as singles, but the prices for these are literally eye-watering — some of them are 4000 crystals or more (and a 4000 crystal pack will set you back $42.99). This is the most ridiculously insulting thing about this game: that it wants to charge you extortionate amounts just to get a single powerful card. It’s only barely justifiable in secondary markets for full-blown TCGs, but in a small casual card battle game like this, it’s downright offensive and a big turn off for me personally.

dengen-singles

Unfortunately, this game’s singles market serves as a poster child for the very definition of the term “pay to win”. Would you pay these prices just for high attack and defense cards? I wouldn’t…

Deckbuilding and Strategy

It’s hard to talk about deckbuilding in Dengen Chronicles because you don’t really have a deck, per se: rather, you choose which characters you’d like to have access to in a fight, as well as which Dengen cards you’d like to be able to play onto the field to modify the attacks. Certainly, there are choices to be made about which Dengen cards you take into battle with you, because many of them only work by placing them onto a particular elemental tile. In that case, you’ll clearly need to bring a mixture of elemental cards with you so you’ve got something available for all situations, but that’s hard to plan for because Dengen cards are pretty hard to come by in this game. You might have to make do with what you get.

Leveling up your characters and equipping them with more and more powerful items is the only way you’ll be able to get their attack and defense values high enough to stay competitive. Remember as well that the characters have their own elemental affinities, preferring to be on certain tiles. Make sure your deck covers a wide range of elements so you don’t get stuck putting characters onto a tile they don’t have an affinity for, because they will disappear after one turn rather than stay permanently.

equipment-items

This is probably the most interesting thing about developing your characters, because you can equip different items to their bodies with an actual in-game effects rather than just a cosmetic one.

Final Thoughts

Dengen Chronicles is a difficult one to evaluate because it will appeal to a certain casual market who may enjoy its simplicity and long grind, but for TCG/CCG fans that crave a lot more depth, deckbuilding options and player interaction, Dengen Chronicles isn’t going to fulfill those criteria.

It certainly presents some interesting ideas, especially in terms of the tactical mode’s gameplay board, the elemental system, and the way the rounds and attacks shift around the board in a circular fashion. It’s just seems like a bit of a underutilized idea that you wish would be fleshed out a bit better than it actually has been, with a more complex combat system.

If you’re looking for something that is simple, will take a long time to get more powerful without spending money, and ultimately not too taxing on the brain, Dengen Chronicles is not a bad choice, it’s just not a particularly exciting one, either. If you love the manga art style, you might like playing around with your characters’ equipped items and clothing, which was certainly a bit of fun. I just personally wanted a bit more “meat” on the bones of this game, so I can’t recommend it too highly unless you’re looking for something light and casual.

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by

Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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