Marvel's take on a collectible card battler is thrilling, fun, and filled with potential, and we can't stop playing it.
You've probably heard about it at this point, as it's grown to become a bit of a sensation, but there's a reason why Marvel Snap has launched and catapulted to success. And that's simply that it is a very good card battling game. This genre is pretty crammed full of other games, many of which are brilliant in their own rights, but Marvel Snap is fantastic because it's simple, thrilling, easy to understand, and yet has a very high skill ceiling. What more could you ask for?
Essentially, the concept of this mobile card battler is to use a collection of Marvel-themed characters to win one of three locations on the game board. Each location, named after a place in the Marvel world - for example the Hellfire Club, the Sovereign, or even more recently Shuri's Lab - has its own unique effect (with locations being randomised each unique match) and you can only place four cards at each of the three locations. The main catch is that each card in your deck (with decks having around 12 total unique cards) has a energy cost ranging from one-to-six to use it, and the more expensive ones will likely only be playable as the match reaches its closing moments, as after every turn, your available energy raises by one. So, you could play Quicksilver with a cost of one energy from turn one, Doctor Strange with a cost of three from turn three onwards, and The Incredible Hulk with a cost of six, on the final turn of the match - unless some strange effect changes this in some way. And with this core concept in mind, you have to win two of the three locations by overwhelming your opposition's attack stat line, by using a smart combination of the cards in your deck and hand.
It's a game that is far simpler than I could ever make it sound. This isn't like your Hearthstones, or Gwents, or Magic: The Gatherings. No, this is a very fundamentally simple game that is easy to pick up, but due to the way that the locations work and how unique decks can be, there's also a lot of depth to explore and figure out. The design is also so straightforward that games last minutes at most, making it the ideal title to pick up to entertain yourself for a few moments in line at the bank, on the Tube, or whenever you need to kill a little time. But just because it has short games, doesn't mean at all that the matches aren't thrilling and competitive, because they really, really are.
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You'll get lost in attempting to outwit your opponent and trying to figure out not just their move on the current turn but also how they intend to tackle the rest of the game. And as Marvel Snap has such a fundamentally basic design, you can to a degree get those predictions correct, which feels all the more rewarding when you do so, especially when you use the double-down feature of 'snapping', which will double your ranking reward points should you win or double the amount you lose if you get it wrong.
One of the areas Marvel Snap did concern me when I first booted it up was the microtransactions and how they would be implemented. Granted this is a concern for pretty much every mobile game I boot up these days, but with this game I can say that it doesn't feel too oppressive in its current state. Sure, you can spend money on things such as new cards, like Captain America, but at the same time, the progression systems that are baked in and the access to the free battle passes mean that there's always a steady flow of new cards coming to your deck all without you ever needing to spend a dime. Plus, the cards you can buy don't seem to be absurdly overtuned right now, as is the case with a lot of paid content in free video games. And to add to this, spending money on currency to upgrade cards isn't a problem as the upgrading mechanics do not actually improve a card, and instead simply change its appearance by turning the original 2D background into a one where the imagery breaks the frame, then becomes 3D and so on.
It's a game that right now is very fun and friendly to the user. Will it remain this way as the seasons progress and more mechanics and features are added? Well... that's the real question, but if Second Dinner can keep things simple, fast-paced, and as thrilling as it is now, then there's no denying that Marvel Snap is one of the better card battlers on the market today already.
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8 / 10
Thrilling and fast-paced gameplay. Super easy to understand design. Plenty of depth and potential to grow in the future.
Microtransactions, while not too oppressive, are present. Quite a limited offering right now.