Cardinal Quest 2 has been out on smartphones for some time. I love Rogue-like games, so I have been itching to try it out for some time, but its mobile-only status turned me off. Now it has finally made it’s way to the PC platform, and I felt compelled to try this version out. Is it everything that I wanted it to be?
Cardinal Quest 2 is a quick game to get into; You start off by selecting a class for your character. At first there are only three to choose from: The Fighter, the Warrior, and the Wizard, but more are unlocked as you progress on your quest to save the world. After you have created your character, you start in the first act of the game. No long story introductions or dialogues here, except for a short text snippet at the beginning of each area in the different acts. The first area that you are thrown into is The Village, and one of the first things you will notice as a new adventurer in Cardinal Quest 2 is its simple yet elegant graphics. It truly pays homage to the rouge-like genre, sporting simple and colorful sprites with enough personality in them to make the lack of animations justified.
As in any rouge-like, you move around the areas of the game exploring, looking for loot, and hacking your way through enemy hordes. Loot consist of equipment, spells, and usable items that all need to be used for your own survival in the harsh world of Cardinal Quest 2. Goblins, Bandits, and Minotaurs are only a few of the creatures you will meet on your way towards the boss encounters in each of the three acts. There is also the possibility of meeting a scavenger that can sell valuable items and equipment to you in exchange for your hard earned gold. The goal of each map is simply to find the exit so that you can move on to the next area, and this is a formula that Cardinal Quest 2 never deviates from.
It might seem to simple and tedious at first, but the simple formula is the game’s biggest strength. You see, Cardinal Quest 2 is made to either give you a short, 15 -30 minute hack-and-slash fix, or a 2 hour long adventure if you want to. Each map takes very little time to clear and when you are done with an act, it feels like you have been going at it for an hour — in reality, it’s only been a short while. This feeling comes to fruition thanks to the simple and fun battles in the game. The randomly generated maps manage to give you enemy set-ups that feel fresh each time you play the game. To be successful, you will have to plan where to move and when to use your different skills. And when you realize that the charm spell you picked up earlier kept you alive during the encounter with that Wizard and Minotaur combination, you feel a form of satisfaction that not all games can match.
Each class in Cardinal Quest 2 has different stat values that allow you to play in different ways and with different strategies. All classes can use all spells, however, and they become pretty good at using them. A fighter might start with a higher strength value, but a wizard will have higher intelligence will will let him use red spells more often, as they recharge faster for him. It all comes together well, since you can create some pretty cool character builds that feel unique to your own playstyle. Most equipment can also be used by all classes — with some exceptions — and when you get equipment that is worse than what you already have or you cannot equip it, it will be automatically sold to give you some extra cash, instead.
After you have finished all of Cardinal Quest 2′s acts, you unlock The Tower; This is an endless dungeon where the goal is simply to get as far as you can before you fall prey to the enemy. This gives the game a lot of replay value, since you can go on forever with no end. There are also online leaderboards for each act if you want to compare your highscore to the rest of the world’s. I should also give a lot of praise to the game’s music, as every tune in the game really hit the spot for me. It is soothing, fitting, and pumps you up while exploring.
There is not much to complain about with Cardinal Quest 2. The game does what it was designed to do by delivering simple to understand game mechanics and fast paced rouge-like gameplay. If there is one thing that I miss, it would be controller support. This would have been nice, as it would’ve made playing on my TV easier. It is also a very challenging game, or at least it was for me, as I found that the normal difficulty level really tested my skill more than once — I even got killed plenty of times before finishing the first act. I personally found it great, however, since each time I died I learned something and got better at the game. It never felt to me that I lost an encounter for the wrong reasons. So, if you are looking for a rouge-like that is challenging, fast paced, and has deep strategic battles, Cardinal Quest 2 is probably the game for you.
A PC code for Cardinal Quest 2 was provided by Randomnine for the purpose of this review