Compatibility: iPad, Android Tablet
Reviewed On: iPad Air
Current Price: $9.99
App Size: 255 MB
Developer/Publisher: Handelabra/Greater Than Games
Multiplayer: Yes, pass and play
Itunes link: Sentinels of the Multiverse
Google Play link: Sentinels of the Multiverse
Few games have taken the tabletop world by storm like Sentinels of the Multiverse. This was the Super Hero card game on the market before the big guys even considered the space. It features a cast of original heroes, some pretty direct copies of existing properties, that face off against a cast of villains, each with their own plots and powers. The game’s popularity has spawned spin offs, actual comics, and more. We now have, on our iOS and Android devices, the chance to play the game that started it all.
Admittedly, this is my first time playing Sentinels of the Multiverse. Super heroes have never really appealed to me. I find most of the stories to be a predictable arms races. Does it matter that you are super when everyone you fight is also super? That foolish prejudice of mine aside, it is a cooperative game I have always wanted to try, and I am excited to have it on my iPad. It is important to now that this review is coming from someone very new to the game (Dave is a huge fan of this game and should be reviewing it on that other publication soon).
Being new to the game, I first hit the big “How To Play” button on the front menu. What I saw was a text rulebook, and my heart dropped. “Another game with no tutorial?” I thought. Luckily, nestled in the top right corner was a “Play Tutorial” button. What followed was an excellent tutorial hosted by an animated version of game designer Christopher Badell. It is a superb tutorial teaching both the rules and basic strategy.
That being said, there is still a lot to learn. Each villain and hero plays differently and has a slew of new cards. The amount of new content for each character can be daunting to new players. While the tutorial was great, I would love more ways to ease into the remaining content. In the game setup screen you can see the special abilities of each character and villain, but it would be great to get a better summary of how each character is meant to play, even a brief overview.
Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative game, and, on mobile, can be played solitaire or pass and play (no online play). Once you’ve selected your heroes, the villain, and the location, it is time to fight! The heroes’ goal is to bring the HP of the villain down to 0. Each villain can win by either defeating all the heroes or, for some villains, by another mechanic, for example Baron Blade wins by getting his discard pile to a certain number. The game is played in turns, one for each hero, one for the villain, and one for the environment. The heroes’ abilities are represented by cards ranging from one-off attacks to powers and on-going effects. Each hero can play one card from their hand and one power each turn. Powers range from dealing damage to drawing cards, it depends on the strategy of each hero. There is a wide variety of strategy and mechanics. On the villain’s turn, they follow a preprogrammed set of moves which could involve playing cards from the villain deck and dealing damage to the heroes. The environment or location also gets a turn, usually playing cards that affect both the heroes and villain, adding another wrinkle to the strategy.
All of this is presented in amazing comic book style. The locations are brought to live with well done 3D backgrounds. The heroes and villains have different artwork as they take damage or become more powerful. If you are fan of the board game’s art style, you are going to love what they have done here. The comic book feeling is carried into to the menus and the gameplay screen. Each character is given their own panel, and these panels shifts as turns change. You can tell the folks at Handelabra have a love for Sentinels of the Multiverse as well as comic books in general. I may be getting greedy, but I would loved to see them take this one step further. Currently there are no combat animations, which I think, if added, would help round out the aesthetic and give your actions more weight. However, what’s there now is excellent.
The lack of combat animations is just one part of a lack of information in some parts of the game. With so many different factors influencing each action in the game, it would be great to understand these more clearly. Admittedly, the game does this well with combat, clearly explaining why you are being hit with a certain amount of damage. These needs to be carried to other areas. For example, I would love to know how many cards the Villain will play next turn, or how close they are to their special victory conditions. This information is all available out of context on the cards themselves, but I would love to see it within the flow of the game. As a new player, there is currently a lot to keep track of. The team has tried to make identifying card abilities easier with a range of icons. This is a great first step, but still a bit overwhelming for new players.
While Sentinels of the Multiverse could give more information in some areas, it also suffers from a case of too much in other areas. Each time damage is dealt, either to your heroes or to the villain, you must decided in what order it is allocated. This is useful on some occasions, but there are many times when the choice is irrelevant. Luckily, there is a choose for me button to automate this, but I do wish it would be automated in cases where the choice truly doesn’t matter. Not only is it a bit clunky and happens often (several times a turn), as a new player I found the choice confusing. I kept picking my brain to figure out why damage order mattered in a given situation.
All of this does not tarnish the fact that Sentinels of the Multiverse is really fun to play. The amount of content available is amazing. The possible combinations of heroes, villains, and locales is staggering. There is nearly endless variety. I am excited to solve the puzzle that is each villain and learn the synergies of the different heroes. This iPad version makes gameplay quick and easy, managing all the book keeping and letting you focus on the real choices
The gameplay that has made this game a cult hit shines bright in this digital version. The tutorial makes the game welcoming to new players and is a great place to enter this renowned series. This is a must have addition to your digital board game collection.
This compelling cooperative game is so close to being super.
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