Don't let the name fool you — Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is not a card game. You're not building a deck or duelling opponents for a chance at winning their prized possessions. Instead, you're going on a very traditional, surprisingly straightforward role-playing adventure. Voice of Cards is a turn based Japanese RPG with a tabletop card game skin. Your journey is narrated by one man — the Game Master — as you embark on a quest to slay a dragon and collect its bounty.
Again, straightforward is the word that we'd use to describe Voice of Card's story and gameplay structure — at least for the most part. You travel from town to town, dungeon to dungeon, talking to troubled peasants and battering bloodthirsty beasts. But what makes Voice of Cards stand out is its habit of subverting expectations. A number of clever, often humorous character moments punctuate the plot, and there are times when the gameplay is turned on its head just to prove a point. With NieR's Yoko Taro directing, these kinds of twists are perhaps expected — but that doesn't stop Voice of Cards from being a thoroughly charming experience.
Turn based combat is at the core of this methodical RPG. As your party members level up, you'll unlock new skills and abilities that continue to add tactical depth to each encounter — but near the end of the game, it feels like the battle system loses steam. Enemies rock up with large health pools, and overly long dungeon runs start to sap your enthusiasm. If you're anything like us, you'll also hit the character level cap well before the credits roll — and without that hook of growing stronger, combat can become a chore.
Thankfully, the game's excellent presentation holds everything together, and at around 12 hours in length, Voice of Cards doesn't quite outstay its welcome. There are multiple endings to unlock as well, but additional playthroughs may be a tall order. Voice of Cards isn't the kind of RPG that you can rush through — its deliberately slow pace is part of the charm — but there is a slightly expanded New Game+ mode for those who fancy taking on the dragon all over again.