This is a video game review. I'm trying something new here. I originally wanted to review Nightbanes about a week after I started playing it but I'm glad I held off. Then I was going to review it a month after. Again I held off. Now its a few months later and it feels a good time to do it.
Why wait so long? Because games like these can't be measured in short periods where you complete them like the standard game you buy, finish and maybe play some multiplayer online.
What does this have to do with goth? Well... not much. But its something goths might like. Plus its loaded with dystopian sci fi and horror elements. Many goths dig stuff like that as well as card games. Hell half of you are probably playing Hearthstone in another window right now. NEEEEERDS!
Anyway onto the game itself.
What is Nightbanes?
Nightbanes is an online card game. The versions I have played are on Facebook and Steam. There might be versions on platforms like Kongregate and Kabam too but I haven't played those. You play for free and "donate" (a term I picked up from their forums - I like it) to buy stuff with real money. The game isn't pay to win as such but donating certainly gives you an advantage. Many of the good cards you can get by playing to unlock them and the game drops lots of alternative resources to acquire them too.
To keep it simple I'm going to talk about the Facebook version as thats the one I played the most. Near the end I will talk about the differences between Steam and Facebook.
So you start out by picking a deck and starting the campaign. We aren't talking a short single player campaign here either. It is very long! So long in fact when I stopped playing after around 3 months of daily play I still was nowhere near completing it. I'll go into why I stopped later.
The thing that hit me right away was how gorgeous the aesthetics are. The campaign screens are all dark and foreboding, the art on the cards is beautiful.
Each player has a Vampire Lord as well as their deck. The Vampire Lord has innate and activated powers. The variety of decks you can play is great. Creatures like undead, vampires, lycanthropes, sewer monsters, lab monsters, deranged humans, demons, righteous (priests and witch hunters), psychotic clowns... something for everyone.
The numerous pop culture references are funny as hell. A couple of examples include Thrilling Werewolf and Spider Pig.
So you play the campaign, gather resources and buy packs to get cards. If you "donate" there are exclusive cards you can only buy with real money too. If you plan on Donating I recommend buying some Gargoyles. Those things are awesome!
The way it works is you have limited stamina so you play a bit and come back later. You can also play PvP (seperate stamina bar for that) where you get PvP resources to spend in that part of the shop. You can also buy items for more max stamina, stamina refills and so on.
The shop is pretty extensive with numerous ways to buy packs as well as individual cards. Some cards you unlock in the campaign, others you buy with resources specific to parts of the game. You can even level some cards up to make them better or evolve where a specific card recipe creates a new more powerful card.
Gameplay for battles is a countdown system. Events happen right away, creatures take time to get active and tick down until they are based on their bloodlust level. Little guys come out fighting, big guys take a while to move. The strategy comes in deck building and playing the cards in the right order to wreck your opponent. As you can only play one card (or activate Vampire Lord's power) per turn. Its simple to get the hang of and tricky to master.
I found it fun. For a time...
When you start out the game is very fun but it has a major flaw in the campaign. It becomes way too grindy, to the point of boredom. Early on it only takes a few battles to beat each step on a campaign screen and each step has 3 levels. A step early on may be something like 3, 5, 10. As you progress further the numbers increase so to get level 3 (and the reward that drops there, often a great new card you can only get this way) its more like 12 wins level 1, 30 wins level 2 and 50 wins level 3. On top of that stamina requirements go up too.
So you get to a point where you start up the game, play 2-3 campaign battles, do some PvP and go away for a couple of hours to do it all again. The game becomes less of a game and more like a chore.
I didn't even get to try guild mode because it seemed pointless to try if I hadn't beaten the campaign first, they both use same stamina. So guilds are more an end game thing.
In the end the grind wasn't too much for me. But I did enjoy the game for about 3 months. Not bad for something I put less than $20 into and many people would just play for free.
Steam vs Facebook
There are some big differences between Steam and Facebook. To start with Steam is a downloadable where Facebook you have to play in a web browser window.
Facebook has limited stamina where Steam doesn't use stamina at all. You can play for as long as you like on Steam.
Because Steam is newer it doesn't have as much campaign material as Facebook but I imagine this will change over time.
Aesthetically the game looks even better on Steam as they added more to the animations. Gameplay is still the same. The game is also free on Steam too.
Do I recommend the game... YES!
Its free to play on Steam or Facebook so you really can't lose. Personally I think the Steam version is a little better and I only really played Facebook longer because I had invested more time into it before trying the Steam version.
There are more involved card games out there as well as simpler ones. But if you are a fan of horror and sci fi I think you will enjoy it. At least until the grind makes you quit.
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.