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REVIEW: RWBY Deckbuilding Game Is a Familiar, Fun Card Dueling Experience

Based on the hit western-style anime of the same name, RWBY Deckbuilding Game is Rooster Teeth Games and 80Arcade's gift to fans of the deckbuilding genre. And while this digital card game is sure to invoke memories of similar titles, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS or Hearthstone, there is plenty that helps it stand out from its peers.

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The RWBY Deckbuilding Game is a virtual card game, but a card game nonetheless. As such, there are a lot of moving parts as far as game mechanics go and most certainly a learning curve, especially considering the fact that most cards have more than one function. This can be a bit overwhelming at first, but luckily, the digital nature of the game makes it much easier to grasp what's going on relatively quickly, especially as you continue to practice.

You start each round by picking a character to play as and getting your starting deck. In addition to the standard cards, each character comes with their own signature cards with unique effects that make things interesting by forcing the player to adapt to slightly different styles of play.

You then play your cards, some of which will add to your energy meter. Depending on how much energy you have, you can either buy new cards from the shared pool to claim as a part of your deck, or take on the current boss and add them to your arsenal.

The cards you acquire help boost your numbers, giving you more energy to play with and/or adding to your overall star store, which is crucial to ultimately winning the match. Most of these cards also come with added effects that will either help you or hurt your opponents. For instance, certain cards can be used to declare attacks on your opponent's deck, defend against such attacks, or provide you with extra energy or card draws. Not only that, but energy can also be spent upgrading the cards you already have to boost their usefulness.

Ultimately, the winner is whoever manages to rack up points collecting the most valuable cards by fending off their opponent(s), managing their energy wisely, taking necessary risks and, occasionally, relying on the luck of the draw. And as always, to the victors go the spoils -- specifically, in-game currency that can be used to purchase cosmetics.

This certainly sounds like a lot of information, but it's fairly easy to get the hang of as long as you're paying attention during the handy tutorial. Moreover, even as you venture off into the game proper, most of the effects of the cards happen automatically, which can help the player fall into a rhythm while also offering a bit of a refresher on the rules. The game also offers subtle hints reminding players to make sure they used their turn to its fullest, not unlike the aforementioned DUEL LINKS.

You can also adjust the card speed at any time as needed, for when you need to slow things down to make sure you're following everything correctly or speed things up once you start to get a feel for the mechanics.

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From an audio/visual standpoint, the game is also very pleasing, especially when played on a larger device. The menus, artwork and the playing field itself are all very sleek. Moreover, the subtle yet smooth animations help make the game field feel more alive while also not coming off as distracting. Additionally, the instrumental renditions of some of the songs from Rooster Teeth's animated series are very enjoyable to listen to.

On that note, however, this is not just a random card game with a RWBY skin slapped on it. This is very much a RWBY game. As such, it will likely appeal more to established fans of the series than it will to the average player. That being said, it is by no means inaccessible. Even if you know nothing about RWBY, you should be more than able to grasp and even potentially master the game's mechanics. Although, it is the diehard fans who will get that added enjoyment from hearing their favorite characters' familiar voices, as well as catching the various in-jokes and references.

Admittedly, multiplayer play can be a bit dodgy, but that largely has to do less with the game itself, and more to do with the human element (i.e., other players taking too long with their turns/bailing on games.) However, since the game is still in its infancy, you may also run into the occasional bug or two, which will likely soon be patched. Luckily, this isn't too much of a problem; if multiplayer isn't really doing it for you, you can always take on the single-player bounty boards to play snappy matches and collect rewards.

That said, certain premium game mechanics, such as raids, are locked behind a paywall, which is to be expected from a free-to-play game. However, this game seemingly avoids the pay-to-win trap by making these premium modes feel like extras, rather than essentials. Moreover, players cannot buy their way to success in the card game itself and there are no advertisements to speak of.

Overall, the RWBY Deckbuilding Game is an exceptionally fun, if challenging card game to pick up, be it from the comfort of your home or on the go. And while fans of the series it's based on are sure to be the ones who get the most out of this title, any card game aficionado looking to add another title to their collection can have a great time with it, as long as they put forth the time and effort to master the mechanics. And for a free title, you really can't go wrong.

RWBY Deckbuilding Game is now available for Steam and Android, and will be coming soon to iOS. A review code was provided by the publisher.

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