It’s here! The closed Chronicle beta is finally underway. If you’re one of the lucky ones and received your key to the beta then you already know what a great game it is. If you haven’t received your key yet don’t worry one will be arriving in your inbox soon. In the mean time let me take you on a quest to review this much anticipated game. We’ll start our journey with a quick and dirty summary of Chronicle: RuneScape Legends.
Chronicle is a strategy card game where you take a RuneScape legend on a quest. The cards you place are either enemies your legend will face on the quest or allies that can help you along your way. Up to four cards can be played per chapter and there are up to five chapters. At the end of the five chapters if both legends are still alive then they will battle to the death. That’s the gist of it anyway. Now lets move on to chapter two and breakdown the aesthetics, music, and overall immersion of the game.
The graphics in Chronicle are simply stunning. The animations of the legends have a subtle charm and the maps come to life in a way that leaves you yearning to see more. The artists that have worked on Chronicle are really top notch and some of the best in the industry. The aesthetics of Chronicle has been one of its most acclaimed features thus far. Along with the graphics the music in Chronicle is also very well done. Granted its not new for a RuneScape player nevertheless it adds a great deal to the overall feel of the game. The Chronicle team used the orchestral remakes of the familiar RuneScape tracks that were released with RuneScape 3. The music of RS3 was one of the most under appreciated aspects of RS3, however it has found another platform in which to shine in Chronicle and doesn’t disappoint. The look and sound of Chronicle brings the world of RuneScape alive and immerses the player in a familiar landscape but in an entirely new way. Of course we can’t fully appreciate how immersive Chronicle is without talking about its game-play and mechanics. Our quest continues onward to chapter three.
Chronicle’s game-play is fast paced and engaging. Unlike other strategy card games, in Chronicle you don’t merely focus on your opponent. The focus is instead on building a quest for your legend using your deck. Up to four cards per chapter are played so it cuts down the time you have to wait on your rival to place their cards which gives Chronicle very fluid game-play. Since the focus is more on your legend than just battling your opponent it means that you can develop your own play style instead of always trying to react to what cards your opponent has played. The question is, what will your play style be? Do you like to take pod shots at your opponent throughout the game hoping to take them out by an accumulation of damage? Maybe saving up cards, gathering gold, and hoping for one big move just before the end is your style. Another popular style is to build up your legend throughout with weapons and armour becoming more and more powerful anticipating the final battle to the death. None of these play styles would mean anything without the cards though. Follow me as our journey continues to chapter four, deck building.
The most important part of any strategy card game is of course the cards. In Chronicle there are general cards, those in which any legend can use and legend cards, those in which are specific to a certain legend. Within these two categories are two types of cards: enemy and support cards. This makes Chronicle simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, while providing the potential for a competitive player to develop more complex combos and strategies. This aspect of Chronicle is balanced really well. The support cards can provide the legend with gold, weapons, armour, spells or buffs. The enemy cards provide a creature for your legend to encounter and fight which will also give the legend one of the previously mentioned items. Deck building is very easy and one of my favorite parts of the game. The only restrictions are to have a deck with a minimum of thirty cards and a maximum of fifty. Other than that you can’t cross legend specific cards. Building a custom deck is rewarding and where your play style can really take shape. The feedback on the cards has been mostly positive, however if there is one aspect of the game players are pointing to that needs some polish it is here.
In the Chronicle forums some players are saying some cards are over powered i.e. earth blast, wizards, mind bomb, etc. While I agree that some minor improvements could be made I caution the Chronicle team from borrowing the Jagex nerf bat from Mod Timbo and start whacking away. Remember the early feedback is coming from long time RuneScape players. I would be more interested in what competitive strategy card players say about it. If there’s one thing I know about my RuneScape community, it is they think everything is op. Instead of nerfing the more powerful cards make them available at higher levels or cost more gold. Knowing that a big hit is a possibility adds to the suspense and strategy of the game. Furthermore these cards won’t win the game for someone that doesn’t know how to use it. If I see my opponent is Ariane I know I could take a hit for twenty life points and I act accordingly. That’s not reacting to my opponent as much as it is making me mindful of possible outcomes as I build my own deck. Another way to balance the big cards would be to provide cards that, in Ariane’s case, would take a card away from your opponent, or take gold from Ozan, etc. Overall Chronicle is pretty balanced for a closed beta. Unfortunately our story must come to an end as we advance to the final chapter.
Chronicle has done something that every game hopes to do which is live up to the hype. Its a good game and will only become better over the course of the beta. Its still at an early point in the closed beta and there are many things we don’t yet know. What will its business model be? Freemium is a good possibility but it could be a subscription model or a purchase model. I hope Jagex stays away from the subscription model and whatever they do I hope they release it on Steam. Overall its amazingly polished for a closed beta and there is no doubt the Chronicle team is very talented. I look forward to watching Chronicle’s progression in the coming weeks. One thing that is imperative for Chronicle is to expand beyond the RuneScape base. The RuneScape base will give Chronicle its start but to be truly successful it will have to go beyond this and catch on in the strategy card game genre. It can be done we’ve seen it with Hearthstone, and Chronicle has the potential to do it as well. It has been stated that Chronicle will be available on tablets and this should be another strong point for the game. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping and Chronicling.