In a move that perhaps should not have been as shocking as it was, news of a new title in the Voice of Cards series dropped. Given the simple nature of the game compared to other Square Enix titles, it makes perfect sense why more would be produced. However, there is a concern that the Voice of Cards series could become one based on quantity rather than quality. How does Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden hold up, both on its own and compared to its predecessor?
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden follows a young navigator known as Barren who lives on Omega Isle. Wanting nothing more than to go on an adventure, he is in the middle of building his own ship. A young girl by the name of Laty is a recent accomplice of his, although he knows next to nothing about her. All that he knows for sure is that she does not speak and refuses to be taken to the nearby village.
There is a deeper conflict at play, however. Omega Isle is in great danger. Typically, an island would have a maiden at its core to protect them from its prophesied destruction. However, Omega Isle lost its maiden long ago. With no other maiden to take the helm, the island is doomed for destruction. And much to the main character’s chagrin, everyone in the village has accepted their fate. Thus, he decides to take fate into his own hands and brings Laty along on an adventure so that they can help her become the maiden to save the island.
The story for Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is a standalone story, meaning that you don’t need to play the The Isle Dragon Roars to understand The Forsaken Maiden. Your goal is to build up the power in Laty’s Maiden Relic. To do this, you must travel to the four islands surrounding Omega Isle with the hope that the other maidens will help you. This can end up with the story feeling repetitive, as you make land on a new island, introduce yourselves to the village maiden and attendant, help them with their woes, defeat the boss, rinse and repeat.
The story also suffers from feeling drawn out in parts, whether it’s drawing out the dungeon crawling portions, or not quite ending the story where you would expect it to end. This can result in a bit of frustration, especially towards the end when you are facing back-to-back bosses.
Given the emphasis on maidens and their caretakers, you will run into four sets of characters along your journey. Given the short amount of time you get to spend with each respective duo, the characters are still charming in their own way. However, some of their personalities aren’t quite strong enough to leave an impression after going to the next island.
Unlike the first game, the endings of Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden are minuscule in comparison. There doesn’t appear to be a secret ending that can be obtained, so the choices that you are given at the end of the game are pretty much what you get. And as the endings aren’t drastically different, it leaves little motivation to play through the other endings, unless you want to see the minor text changes.
The gameplay for Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is exactly the same as the first game. Controlling a team of up to four team members, you travel around the map and face random encounters in turn-based combat. With each battle, you’ll gain experience and money.
Whenever you aren’t in battle, you will be traveling across the map, uncovering new locations, treasures, and events. All cards on the map are turned face-down by default and will not be flipped face-up until you touch an adjacent card.
The majority of battles in Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden appear via random encounters with the exception of boss battles, where you approach the enemy directly. Once you enter battle, a board will ease in, taking the player right into battle. From here, you will see the enemies that you will be facing in front of you, while your active team members are on the opposite side.
Turn order is decided by a unit’s speed, which can be affected by the equipment that your character is wearing at any point. Once it is your turn, you can choose to attack, use an item, pass your turn, or run from battle. In order to attack, you will need a specific amount of gems. You gain one gem per turn, with a maximum of ten that can be held at one time. If you do not have enough gems to use an attack, then you won’t be able to attack.
All cards will have an attack, defense, and HP value. Inflicting or receiving damage will deplete HP from the target until it reaches zero. If all of your units’ HP hits zero, this will result in a game over and you will have to restart the game from your last save point.
The combat hasn’t truly changed between the first Voice of Cards game and this new installment. Status ailments remain the same, Happenstance cards that can give surprise effects like stat raises still appear during mini-boss and boss battles, and skills, in general, remain consistent. When looking from purely a combat point-of-view, there isn’t anything separating the two Voice of Cards games as the “better” version. It is pretty much the same game, copy-pasted with new characters, a slight new paint job, and some bells and whistles when it comes to difficulty and link skills.
Your team for Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden will remain fairly consistent through the course of the game, with you controlling Barren and Laty. The other slots will regularly be filled by the maiden and attendant of whichever island you are on at any given point. When you no longer have a maiden and attendant on your team, your third slot will be taken by Lac, a strange puppet that you meet during your travels on Omega Isle. Compared to the previous Voice of Cards game, there isn’t as big of an emphasis on team-building.
One new feature that was added was link skills. All maidens and their attendants can combine their power into a strong attack or ability. However, since these skills are much more powerful than the other unlockable skills, there is a higher gem cost. Thankfully, this gem cost isn’t too high to make these skills feel unusable.
The difficulty for Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is much more consistent than with the first game. Rather than the difficulty ramping up right at the end boss, it rises at a steady pace. Likewise, the encounter rate is just as frequent, with you not being able to make it a few steps without ending up in battle. This does work out in your favor a bit, as it helps to keep your levels up on your team so that you don’t fall behind.
The aesthetics are another thing that has carried over from the first game, both in the art style and even some character art. A lot of the repeating NPC art is shown early on, but there is also some original art sprinkled in amongst those characters. The styling of the cards and the models for the game pieces, board, and dice still look good (given that they’re reused assets, I wouldn’t expect anything different).
One thing that I did notice was that the load times felt fairly long, especially the initial load when you’re booting up the game for the first time.
Music and Voice Acting
Keiichi Okabe returns yet again to compose the music for this game. This time, the music takes more of a melancholy tone, with more of an emphasis on string instruments and piano. Given that the story revolves around Laty overcoming her fears of becoming a maiden and her feelings of inadequacy, the music slots right in with driving the mood of the game. However, there are also lighter tracks as well, that takes on a more hopeful tone, for those uplifting moments where the crew overcomes a great challenge.
As for voice acting, the game is narrated by a single narrator. There is no attempt to try and make the characters all “sound” different during the narration. Given that this game is meant to simulate a tabletop game campaign, that makes sense. A nice touch that this game does add, however, is the fact that the narrator appears to make more quips as the story unfolds. While the quips aren’t anything that add to the story, it does make the narrator appear more “human”, so to say.
All things considered, Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is a solid game. Given that this is a stand-alone game, you don’t have to play the first Voice of Cards game to enjoy this one (although some Easter eggs will be missed). As a follow-up to the first Voice of Cards game, it doesn’t do much to improve the formula. The story follows a predictable pattern that can grow tiresome as players approach the latter parts of the game.
Outside of the addition of link skills, the combat hasn’t changed at all. For those who enjoyed the first Voice of Cards gameplay, they’ll enjoy this game as well, but for players coming into The Forsaken Maiden looking for vast improvements to the formula, they’ll be disappointed. That said, for those who haven’t played the first game and are stuck between which of the two to go with, The Forsaken Maiden’s difficulty is a lot more consistent.
The aesthetics are just as strong, with nice music and great art. Given the smaller scale of Voice of Cards and the fact that these games appear to take place in the same universe, it’s understandable why card art for the NPCs was reused. For those looking for the same experience with a different story, then Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden will be perfect, otherwise, perhaps it’s best to hold out on this installment.