A few weeks ago, we seemed to have hit an online gold mine here at sevengames.com. Not only did we stumble across the fun and colorful 2D platform fighting game called Brawhalla, but we also found another retro fighting game called Duelyst. Both were lucky finds, as they are developed by indie studios and not as heavily advertised as some other free-to-play games out there. The two titles have one particular thing in common – they prove to us that you can still find high quality gameplay in the free-to-play gaming world, even if you have to look for it a little harder sometimes.
Short and Sweet PvP Battles
I love video games and I love online games. However, I am not the one to procrastinate in a title by randomly buzzing around. I don’t delve into MMORPGs where I have to team up with others to go on raids, and I also don’t enjoy delving into hour long matches with and against other players that basically tie me to the PC for the entirety of that match. That being said, the concept behind Duelyst is perfect for gamers like me. Each player versus player match is 5-15 min long (definitely no longer than that), and it consists of profound strategic combat. You play against one opponent, and that’s it! It is exactly what I look for in a free-to-play online game. There are no text based chat functions that allow for insults against me or my playstyle. Instead, you can choose from some emojis (more of which you can unlock the higher you level up) and certain figures of speech to create a gaming related dialogue. “Hello”, “oops”, and “well played” are amongst my favorites. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having an even wider selection, but it allows me to focus on my game while still allowing me to connect to my opponent. That’s basically all the chatting I need in a game like this.
Complex Gameplay – Extensive Tutorial
I would’ve probably given Duelyst a much worse rating if it didn’t have such an extensive tutorial. The training grounds feature more than 40 different single player matches that introduce the various tactical possibilities in the turn-based strategy game. Defeat your AI opponent in one move by making the most of the cards at your disposal. After a few of these matches, I finally felt like I could take on actual players. I tried my first few Ranked Games and utterly enjoyed them. Sure, it took a while until I actually won my first battle, but I didn’t feel frustrated or like a failure. Even when you lose a game, you will gain experience and level up. Reaching new levels will reward you with new cards for the division you chose. There are six divisions in Duelyst, each with their very own cards and unique playstyle. Naturally, the collector in me wants to thoroughly play with all of them in order to collect new cards. Similar to other trading card games such as Hearthstone, you can also customize your very own deck, something that I learned to appreciate the more time I devoted to the title.
Free-to-Play not Pay-to-Win
From what I can tell after several hours of delving into the action game, Duelyst actually features a fair free-to-play business model. It actually took a few moments for me to find the in-game shop, and the tutorial doesn’t even refer to it at all. In the store, you can purchase packs of up to 40 Spirit Orbs which contain 5 cards each. Sure, you can more easily collect rare cards by purchasing lots of orbs, but it doesn’t automatically allow you to easily win every match. Moreover, you can also purchase Spirit Orbs with gold, which you collect by playing the game.
- Fun Gameplay
- Retro Look
- Well Balanced
- Short but Challenging PvP Matches
- Profound Tactics
- Extensive and Very Fun Tutorial
- Bad Luck Prevents You from Winning
There’s probably a lot more to say about Duelyst, but here’s what you have to know to decide whether it is a game for you or not. Duelyst is a free-to-play turn-based strategy game in the vein of games such as Final Fantasy Tactics. It features a neat retro look, profound gameplay, a fun and extensive tutorial, and short, challenging, and rewarding PvP matches. The way in which tactics, individual abilities, and luck are balanced actually remind us of games such as League of Legends, although bad luck occasionally is the only reason for losing a match. Check it out if you like turn based strategy and trading card games!