Throne of Bone (Early Access)

Bit of a shorter review this time, always need to leave room for the Indies I enjoy! It’s also no secret that this game personally appeals to me being a title focused solely around Necromancy and as such you can consider me biased in this review. Regardless, Throne of Bone is fun wee title and I enjoyed my time with it. Let’s go see what this Necromancer is up to!

The story is… well… there isn’t really one. You play as a variety of Necromancers, people are coming to invade your castle, you must stop them. Not exactly War and Peace over here but you didn’t really come to this type of game to get invested in the story did you. It’s a card-based roguelike autobattler, I’d be more shocked if there actually was a good story here. Regardless, if you want a game with an actual interesting narrative, this isn’t really the game for you.

Here’s an example of a screen you will be seeing a lot, the battle screen!

Presentation-wise this game goes for a simplistic, cartooney art style that makes things look neat and easy to understand. All the cards are easily readable, have nice (and sometimes funny or cute) monster art and while the UI has some issues with giving you information, especially your spell selection, it all looks serviceable enough. The music too is nice, going for a dark, gothic vibe with plenty of strings and early 90’s cheese of evil overlord type areas which brings a certain charm to the game. It certainly doesn’t go for anything bold, this is a simplistic card game after all, it at least works for the medium it is working within and I can respect it for that.

Gameplay-wise if you’ve played any card game autobattlers before then you will know what you are getting into here. You select between rounds from a variety of undead monsters using skull resources that you collect, you can cast spells, you can sacrifice minions for more skull resources and between encounters you can go back to your lair to get more general upgrades or new items to use in battles. You can also combine minions together to make them stronger and give you extra bonuses. The card pool is the same for all the characters you can choose from at the start of the run and you unlock each one through completing a run with the previous character. Unfortunately, this can lead to many of the runs, even with different characters, feeling rather samey however some characters such as ‘The Red King’ do shake things up enough to make for a more varied experience. I also found there were plenty of different strategies you could focus on depending on your random card pulls with my favourite being poison builds. It’s not exactly breaking any new grounds in the gameplay department but you’re here more for the theming after all and I feel this game does successfully pull this off even if it doesn’t feel too unique among its peers.

Which one will you choose?

In terms of negatives the main one I can say here is that, due to this being an early access title currently there’s a bunch of missing or placeholder art in various locations and while the dev team have done their best to substitute them with close approximations it’s clear that they are different and it does break the visual presentation a bit. It also is quite a short game with me finishing my first full run within 45 minutes and beating the whole game with all the characters unlocked within 5 or so hours. The new, unlockable characters are cool but as mentioned previously a lot of them don’t do a huge amount to really change the same playstyle and so it can feel like completing the same campaign 6 times over at times. Perhaps if each character unlocked unique cards or more likely saw cards related to their unique gameplay gimmicks then it could feel a lot more fleshed out and worth it but at the moment it’s simply unlocking them for the sake of having them. This is all of course issues that could be fixed later as the game comes out from Early Access, but this is what I played and so this is what I’m reviewing.

Overall, while Throne of Bone doesn’t set the world on fire and still has some way to go in order to feel like a fully complete experience I still enjoyed my time with it. I can freely admit that my Necromancy bias is perhaps making me feel more generous to this game but for the short time I played it I had a blast of a time. It reminded me of the times I played Inscryption and reminded me why I like these type of card games so much. If you’re looking to get in on the ground early and enjoy a death and bones themed card game then this is certainly something to check out.

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