Luckless Seven is a narrative-driven card and roleplaying game seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Set within the world of Arithia, you take on the role of Mark, a young adult who’s out of school and already feeling the pressures of adult life. He works two jobs: at his family’s restaurant, and at the local hospital as an odd-jobber, before a sharp turn of events occurs. You are convinced by your friends to participate in an upcoming Ekosi tournament, a card game played by people in this world.
For fans of Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Ekosi will seem not that dissimilar from the mini-game, Pazaak. Both Ekosi and Pazaak share the same roots though, borrowing quite heavily from the traditional card game, Blackjack. Ekosi adds in new elements, with cards that can change the tide of a set (round).
DeckPointStudio are the development team behind Luckless Seven and have turned to Kickstarter to help get their project off the ground. They have set themselves a very modest $15,000 target in order to bring this project to life and are halfway there already (at the time of writing). The game is very ambitious, using a system where your choices and interactions will change the path your character takes. Most card games today do try some form of a story narrative, but ultimately never let you take control of the direction of that narrative. Luckless Seven is attempting to go for a more story-driven game based around a card game.
Let’s take a look at how the game plays, and what features are set to be included if the game meets its funding goal.
There are two major gameplay elements to Luckless Seven’s gameplay. We’ll deal with the card game element first, as this is what we’re really here for, right? Ekosi (or 20, as some of the game’s characters call it) is the main source of social interaction for the people of Arithia. Ekosi borrows from Blackjack, using a similar mechanic where you may draw cards from the dealer to get as close to a target number as possible, and in Ekosi that number is 20. Ekosi adds in a touch of its own flavor in order to keep things fresh and interesting, though!
Ekosi differentiates itself by giving the player an additional 4 cards that they can use to alter their score total to their advantage. Each turn you may ‘Hit’ or ‘Stand’, just as you would in Blackjack, trying to get as close to 20 as possible. Sometimes the dealt cards will see you hit a perfect 20, but such instances are rare. This is where the cards in your hand make all the difference. They have varying effects that can add to or subtract from your current score. For example, if you are currently at 16 points and have a +4 card in your hand, you can play it and hit ‘Stand’ in order to finish the set on a score of 20. Likewise, if you were at 23 and had a -5 card, you could use this to modify it to 18 points, with the hope that your opponent cannot beat that score.
There are a vast number of different cards you can play with. The basic cards will just alter the value from their face value. Some will allow you to flip them from positive to negative, and vice versa. There are cards that can win you a tie-break and even some that’ll double the last card played. There are more card types to discover and use within Luckless Seven that make strategy a crucial component of the gameplay, along with a little bit of luck.
Each match of Ekosi may have a different number of sets (rounds) that a player must win in order to win that match. These range from the basic “win 3 sets”, to the maximum of a 9 set match that sees your hand replenished at certain intervals. Being the first to reach a number of sets will see the hand reset, giving you access to some of the other cards in your deck. Similarly, ties cause a new round to begin over, but without any cards you’ve already used from your hand.
Your deck is something your character will always carry with him. This can be expanded by purchasing new cards from in-game merchants who will sell cards to you for money. I currently do not know how you earn money in the game, but I am willing to assume that bets can be made, or chores completed to earn more. Remember, this is an RPG, and one thing that RPGs do well is make you do things for money!
The second major gameplay component in Luckless Seven is the RPG (Role Playing Game), which sees you embark on a journey with your friends, hoping to win an Ekosi tournament. Mark is the game’s central character, and you will take control of every decision, every move, and every match of Ekosi. Through him, you will interact with the game’s NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) and environment. You’ll make decisions that will forever alter the course of the game and Mark’s personality through a unique dialogue progression system.
The game promises to have some complex dialogue trees that’ll have you wondering how you should approach each conversation. This goes hand-in-hand with the social leveling system that is essentially a blueprint of your personality. It grows with each decision you make and each conversation you have. Want to be that jerk who is always off hand and doesn’t socialize well, or the happy-go-lucky guy? It’s entirely up to you. (I think I’ll play “Mark, the Jerk” just for laughs!)
The world of Arithia is a beautiful, 3D-rendered world using the Unity engine, with crisp clean graphics that give off a slightly neo-futuristic feel. Controlling Mark through the current environment was easy enough, and I liked the inclusion of objects he could view and interact with. The game has a mellow, electronic soundtrack that soothes you as you play, too. Everything about Arithia makes me wish I was there, but that’s probably due to how clean and technologically advanced it all looks!
Game Modes and Features
We already know that Luckless Seven features a rich and involving story mode. You can choose to opt out of this and simply play in arcade mode, if you wish. This is the card game in its purest form where you’ll face off against AI opponents. Each opponent has their own play style and they increase in difficulty.
I prefer to play the game through the RPG though, interacting with the environment, the story and the people around me. This is a much more rewarding way to play, and will offer the user the best experience, I think.
The game appears to be only a single player game at the moment. I hope the developers can fit a multiplayer variant into the game so that I may challenge other people around the globe to a game of Ekosi, as I think this is what a lot of players will be looking for as well.
Luckless Seven has left me awestruck, given that it’s just a demo for a game in development right now. Those who read my reviews know that I love a game that has a deep and rich story. When you give me the option to be the story and influence the game world around me, you are onto a good thing, in my book! I can’t be the only one thinking this, as many gamers (not just card gamers) crave this level of game and story interaction.
The developers are looking to release the game on PC, Mac, and Linux systems in April 2016 once they’re fully funded. I would love the campaign to be so successful that they reach the $30,000 stretch goal and are then able to release it on iOS and Android, too.
With our help, I hope this project can come to life. I was impressed enough from the demo to make my own pledge for the full version when it comes out. I suggest you guys do the same: check out the demo, see if you enjoy it, and then join me in making this game a reality! See you in Arithia soon, I hope!