Legends of Zura is a casual card battle game that takes place in the fantasy world of Endia. Through an automated lane combat mechanic you fight your way through various missions on the world map and collect new cards to aid you in battle. Legends of Zura’s primary aesthetic is fantasy, but with a heavy nature theme running throughout that makes it a bit more unique. The visuals are a bit on the rough side, as though the game never got out of the alpha stages of testing. I’m hoping the game plays a bit better than it looks.
Can Legends of Zura compete with other titles in the same genre, or is it forgettable? Read on to find out…
Legends of Zura has opted for the “sit back and do nothing” approach, but with even less interaction than the other games it has copied that also use this combat mechanic. First of all, you need to play through a basic mission before you can access the rest of the game. The World Map is where we select our missions from and complete them one by one. The opening mission sets you up for how the rest of the game will play — and I mean that quite literally. The game does all the playing for you, with no engagement from the player during a battle.
All cards have three statistics: Health (the amount of damage they can sustain before being discarded), Attack (the amount of damage they do to enemy cards or the enemy captain), and Timer (the number of turns it takes for the card to be played after being drawn). These base statistics can change for cards of the same name due to rarity or foiling. I had a few foil versions of the same card, in the same rarity, but with higher values too. It seems as though foiling out the deck will give you the best statistics for all the cards available.
You are able to influence things slightly through the deck editor, but that is about the limit of our influence. Cards are drawn at a rate of one per turn and added to the stack of cards waiting to be played. The starting player starts with one card and the second player starts with two. This keeps some balance to the game, but because the cards use a turn-timer to determine when they’re played (this affects Creatures and Spells) it doesn’t make much of a difference except that the second player always gets a better start.
Both players have a Captain. When constructing a deck you will need to choose your Captain first. Each one has their own unique traits, powers, and starting life. Your goal is to reduce the opposing Captain’s health to zero, whilst hoping that your cards can protect your Captain. This is a system that is present in almost all casual card battle games and if you’re looking for innovation, you will need to look elsewhere. There is nothing new or exciting to see here, but what it does do, it does simply and effectively.
Battle is rather primitive and I was extremely thankful for the “speed up combat” option offered, often increasing it to 8x speed at the start of every battle. Each card attacks directly in front of them, dealing their Attack value as damage to the opposing card which then gets subtracted from the attack target’s Health. If there is no card directly opposite the attacking card it will attack the opposing Captain instead. You have no control over the placement of the cards or who they will attack. Everything is left to chance and the inherent timers built into the card mechanics. Unfortunately, I have never felt so disengaged from a game than with Legends of Zura as I really prefer more player involvement in how combat resolves.
MODES AND FEATURES
Legends of Zura’s campaign mode contains the bulk of the game. You can progress through increasingly difficult battles against A.I. decks. The battles can be accessed via the World Map and we start with three locations that contain ten different battles each. However, there is a bit of a problem that I encountered when trying a different location than the one we start at. You need to use a different Captain for the other locations and these Captains require a certain number of a card type/name in the deck. We do not start with these cards and — surprise! — the only way to get them is to buy boosters.
Such an obvious pay wall so early on is discouraging. I would have liked to be able to play these, as the rewards offered are of a similar level to the missions I was able to play through. Rewards are given for the completion of each battle within Legends of Zura. Boosters, cards, Gold (soft in-game currency), and Essence (premium in-game currency) are among the rewards on offer. It is extremely slow to acquire Essence, making it almost impossible to get what you need to unlock the other campaigns.
The in-game shop contains booster packs you can buy using Gold or Essence. The more expensive the booster the more cards you get and a higher chance of obtaining rare cards. You can also directly access the screen to open your purchased boosters from the shop, which is great way to access them immediately. The animations when opening boosters are nice, but not amazing.
Online play is dealt with via the Battlegrounds. It’s not a direct face-to-face experience. You are fighting against a deck saved by the server for that player, randomly drawing cards for each player and resolving the combat. Victory gets you some rewards and experience points. Leveling up will put you in more difficult leagues and hopefully at some stage, a place on the leaderboard.
DECKBUILDING & STRATEGY
Constructing a deck in Legends of Zura is quite a limiting experience. Your first choice is to select a deck Captain who has their own effects that can trigger during battle. Also, each deck can only contain ten cards and from these you will need a number of cards of a certain name or type to fulfill the criteria given by the Captain. For instance our first Captain requires two Alenia cards in the deck, whilst others can require up to seven of a card type.
When you consider that there are a lot of cards to collect and use, these restrictions make you feel far less in control of the deck than ever before. Once you get into battle this feeling is intensified and it never goes away afterwards. As you can imagine, this stifles a lot of deck building creativity. What little freedom we have doesn’t materialize when the battle sequences are all about timers and random deck draws. Not to mention the fact that if you run out of cards during a battle, the game will continue to play out until you die or it can declare a draw.
From the start, Legends of Zura failed to impress. Its graphics left me thinking that the game had not been developed past the alpha stages. The visuals are rudimentary with very little effort put into wowing the audience. There is very little on offer that would encourage me to recommend this game. It feels very light on features and the game modes have the inherent problem of obvious pay walls.
The game feels far from complete and needs a lot of work for it to be a contender in such a genre that has many more A-list titles on offer. There are some solid foundations for the game to improve upon and it wouldn’t need a complete overhaul. Even some improvements to the visuals would be a worthwhile start.
With so many other games offering us innovative mechanics, dazzling effects, and beautiful card art, unfortunately it makes Legends of Zura look like a programming student’s coursework for a university class. Sadly there’s just not enough player interaction and engaging features to make this one a winner.
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