Yomi, An In-Depth Review

7.9 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 8/10
Sounds: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10

Excellent artwork and combat animations. | Astounding depth from such a simple concept.

Premium purchases in a full-price game.

iOS, PC, Mac, Tabletop

$9.99 on iOS, $14.99 on Steam, $39.80 for physical game - View on Amazon

May 8,2015

English on iOS and English, French, German, and Japanese on Steam.

Yomi is a two-player dueling card game in which the cards depict the moves your character performs within a fight. Instead of just throwing down cards with values on them, Yomi utilizes the traditional suits found on playing cards in addition to a Rock-Paper-Scissors combat system. Yomi also features plenty of colorful characters, each sporting their own individual techniques — because who doesn’t want to see a giant panda take on a rock golem?

Is Yomi just a little too different to be taken seriously? Read on to find out…

Let-the-fight-begin

Are you ready for some fighting action using playing cards? I know it sounds strange, but it actually works well here.

GAMEPLAY

Yomi features a very bespoke playing system that really does make you second guess every move you make. When the outcome of a round rests on whether or not you’ve guessed what the opponent has played, it makes for some seriously nail-biting moments. However, when you do guess correctly and win the initial throw-down, you can rack up some serious damage.

The objective of the game is to reduce the opponent’s hit points to zero using the cards in your hand. These cards come in the form of the traditional suits from playing cards and feature the same values. The difference here is that they feature art depicting your character performing one of four moves: Attack, Block, Dodge, and Throw. Cards numbered 2-10 are your Normal moves and are usually used in combos. The picture cards of Jack, Queen, and King are Special moves that have more power than the Normal moves. Finally we have the Ace, which represents a Super move. These powerful cards can even be searched and tutored out from the deck through certain methods.

Each turn players play one of their cards face-down and reveal them at the same time. Cards have two sides to them and can be rotated to the side you wish to play with before placing it “face-down”. The winning card is determined in a Rock-Paper-Scissors fashion and the winner can then perform a combo if they performed a successful Attack, Dodge, or Throw. The game does a good job of illustrating which cards beat others, so after a couple of games you should have it well memorized. To be fair, who doesn’t know how to play Rock-Paper-Scissors?

Attack-beats-block

The reveal happens at the same time and the winning player can complete their move. Here I have performed a successful Throw that will allow me to combo into some Attack cards.

If you do perform a successful action against the opponent, you are then able to make a combo using other cards in your hand. There are restrictions as to what can be played in the combo and some cards have different types that determine when in the combo chain they can be used. Another factor that reduces a combo length is your character’s innate Combo Limit. This does stop excessive abuse of comboing cards and limits the amount of damage that can be done in a single turn.

No deck is complete without a Joker card. In Yomi this card serves as a way to stop a combo from doing too much damage. It is played face-down at the start of a combo and the opposing player then has the choice as to whether they want to continue the combo. You are able to play any of your cards face-down at this stage as a bluff Joker. If they continue the combo you will take all the damage from that combo if you did indeed bluff and only the first card’s damage if you did use a Joker. There are only two of these in a deck, so you should use them wisely. I absolutely loved this mechanic, because I love psychological mechanics and bluffing in card games, so this was a real treat to play with.

Some cards have additional effects that can be triggered throughout the game. Some trigger when in the discard pile and a particular action takes place, whilst others can simply be discarded for their effect. No matter which way you look at it, Yomi has a lot of depth and strategic value to it. It’s also genuinely different and unique in a sea of games with similar gameplay mechanics. This is surprising from a title with such a simple concept when you consider the lengths other games go to, trying to add depth with over-complicated mechanics, or simply carbon-copying others. Well done Yomi, you’ve done it right!

Online-play

Waiting…. waiting… waiting for an online opponent. I will warn you that you may have to wait quite some time for somebody to duel, but they’ll turn up eventually. They did for me!

MODES AND FEATURES

Despite the upfront cost, Yomi features very little in the way of additional modes. Tutorial, Practice vs. A.I., and Survival modes make up the single-player modes. The first two should be self-explanatory, except that the A.I. mode does offer a great way to learn each of the initial 10 base characters. You can buy the expansion for the further 10 characters, so you are bound to find a favorite among all of them.

Online play was a slow affair, in that I would often spend a long time waiting for an opponent to join my game. Looking through the Leaderboard shows that there are players who are at the top-level of the game, so there is definitely a community here. Perhaps I was just a little unlucky with the times that I was online? Either way, I suggest you sit tight and wait for a match when you do decide to play online. The matches, when you do get an opponent, will be far more challenging than those against the basic A.I.

There are additional cards built into the game that add an extra dimension of fun and individuality. EX cards can be unlocked for your chosen character by defeating the harder Yomibot A.I. 25 times. These EX cards are super powerful cards that are used as a fun element within the game and cannot be used in a competitive scenario. If you want to know the success rate of your cards then you should look to get some Inscribed cards. There are various ways to obtain these from paid booster packs to earning them for free by playing online matches and turning other cards to Dust and then making the Inscribed cards you want. Although they offer no tactical advantage, they do remember statistics, such as how much damage the card has done over it’s life, or how many times it has knocked-down an opponent. These fun quirks add some really nice individuality to the game.

Yomi offers it’s players a truly even playing field. Players will need to use the strengths and advantages of their character and the cards in order to beat their opponents, since you can’t edit a deck’s list of cards. There is no pay-to-win formula and this is something the developers are passionate about. I’m sure many disillusioned TCG players will flock to games such as Yomi in order to play a card game for the original reason they wanted to in the first place — for fun, and not chasing rares just to remain competitive.

So-many-pandas

The animations and art are just stunning. Performing a combo is like watching a game of Street Fighter, just slower!

STRATEGY

Yomi has a remarkable depth to it that you may not be able to see on the surface. The guesswork involved when playing your card against the opponent carries a lot of weight, making it closer to deduction than guessing. You can browse their discard pile at any point if you want to perhaps have some idea of what they may have in-hand. In addition to this, both players are able to add Ace cards to their hands via the Joker or via discarding two cards of the same value. If you see your opponent add one, then they are more than likely to play it sooner rather than later.

Keep your Combo Limit in mind when you want to do some large damage. The more powerful the card, the more of the limit it will consume. Normal cards usually use 1 each, whilst picture cards will use two or more. If you can combo a series of cards in a poker-like fashion (e.g. 5, 6, 7, and 8) you will get extra rewards by getting an Ace from your deck or discard pile as well as inflicting a decent amount of damage to the opponent.

You should also be making use of the special abilities each character has. All of them tend to trigger at different times and their effects vary greatly. Making use of these will definitely make your life a lot easier. I found that knowing what my character could do would influence the cards I played. Know your character and their deck well, and you’ll be better positioned to play them to the best of their abilities.

Close-up-card-art

It’s clear that the art has been made to be rather… appealing to a certain demographic. It’s not overly gratuitous, but it is still there.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is actually an incredible amount of strategic depth within Yomi and I found it to be far more fun than I had initially anticipated. The visuals really draw you in and the card art is simply sublime, if you’re a fan of anime art. The only poor feature was when you ‘knocked down’ an opponent. Their character image would simply rotate 90 degrees in the same stance. Considering they have different stances for their attacks, this seems a little lazy, but it’s a small sin that can be forgiven.

Yomi is a feast for the eyes; a real delight to look at. The visuals and card art are of the highest quality (within the anime-style that it is going for) and they do not lose any of that quality when you go into full-screen mode. Clearly this game has been built with the visuals as one of the key factors as to why you’d want to buy the game. Barely-dressed, busty women are aplenty here, so if that kind of thing is going to offend you, you probably shouldn’t play this game. If you love that kind of thing, then you’ll be in heaven here. The only missing element is a Chun-Li look-a-like with powerful legs — ahem! Okay, so it does kind of already have that.

I enjoy games that rely on a little bit of chance in addition to a well-thought-out strategy. Yomi appeals to me in this way, but it is quite restrictive. The amount of strategy I can plan for is limited to a turn-by-turn basis as opposed to a longer game plan, making it technically more tactical than strategic. This is because I can only guess at what my opponent played most of the time, and the information I can actually use isn’t apparent until we’ve been playing the match for some time. This means the longer a game goes on, the more it comes down to skills of deduction to resolve it, and I quite like that.

If you like games that are influenced by anime culture quite heavily, or involve Rock-Paper-Scissors, deduction or bluffing mechanics, then you’ll really enjoy Yomi. I think this game has a lot of fans purely because of the visuals alone. The gameplay is enjoyable, but only if you spend no more than a couple of hours each time you play. It’s not going to be your next TCG/CCG obsession, but if you’re looking for a good blend between that style of gameplay but in a more casual fashion without hours of deck-building first, then you should definitely give this one a go.

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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