Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden Review

The third suit in the Voice of Cards series has arrived, and given the frequency of entries so far, there may be far more to come. Once again we’re thrown into a tabletop-inspired world complete with a game master, party members, and turn-based combat in Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden.

This time around, our protagonist lives in a village underground to take refuge from monsters, but that soon proves futile after the only place she’s ever known is destroyed by said monsters. Thankfully, a mysterious boy saves her during the commotion, and together they go on a quest for vengeance, or perhaps something else.

Overall, the gameplay is extremely similar to that of the first two Voice of Cards games. The major shake-up this time is that you can collect monsters into cards. These cards function as your skills that can be equipped to any party member, making everyone fully customisable outside of their most basic moves. How this works is that after any combat encounter there is a chance for treasure to drop, and the treasure might be a monster card. These cards also come in star ratings which increases their effectiveness.

For example, a two star Tailtoad may deal ATK + 5 water damage, whereas a level three one will deal ATK + 8 water damage. The most basic forms of the monster cards can be purchased at a store if you’re having trouble acquiring them in combat, and anytime you find a better ranking version of that card, it will automatically replace its lower-rank counterpart. Thus the only major limitation is that you won’t have any duplicate skills (though some are similar).

To note, these monster-based skills are the only ones you’ll get in Beasts of Burden, outside of some passive abilities earned upon level-up.

The difficulty of the game is perhaps dependent on what skills you’ve gained and equipped, but it’s not quite as hard as The Forsaken Maiden. Unlike that title - which often shifted around your party depending on your story progress - in Beasts of Burden your entire party of four is rarely split apart. Also, I found there is a massive reduction in random events and hidden treasures, which is especially noticeable as someone who insists on filling in the entire map. While streamlining the game ensured a bit less monotony with repeated events, I found it made exploration much less interesting. There were only three optional quests to do, only one of which was a real chain of events. This optional quest chain involves collecting monsters, but since I had so much trouble even getting just a basic ice tortoise, I gave up on that partway.

Playing the poker-like minigame in Voice of Cards, I noticed that the COM players seemed perhaps more stupid than usual. It’s likely for the purpose of balancing how luck-based it can be, but I’ve witnessed many odd behaviours. In one instance a COM activated a skill allowing them to control the next player’s turn, she then proceeded to pick the best scoring set for them, activating a skill that lets one choose who to make skip and turn…and then chose herself. Somehow I managed to lose that match, but I find it’s worth it for the cosmetics, hich for some reason, still cannot be applied within the game menu and rely on you heading back to the main screen. Though the monsters and consequent skills change in this minigame per entry,  at this point I’m wondering when the game parlor will get released as a stand-alone game.

Tone wise I found The Beasts of Burden to perhaps be the darkest in the series, yet it was less impactful with nothing really getting time to sink in. As far as I could tell, it also appears that there may only be a single ending this time around. This is the first of the series to have a female narrator, and so far I prefer her narration the most. It seems there was a bit of a reduction in frequency of how much is said during random battles and general exploration, which in this case is a good thing.

I appreciate that the soundtracks in these games are each unique, and I enjoyed a lot of what I heard this time having an overall gentler feel (with only one dungeon theme getting a bit grating). Compared to the last entry, I wasn’t particularly impressed with any environments or effects. I did however enjoy the character designs (and at least this time there’s no hideous puppet).

I had no issues with the game performance, once again aside from a particular move and I made sure to play at high speed the entire time. Unfortunately, your preferences still do not save.

Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden is an overall more streamlined experience than the other entries. With the frequency of releases in the series compared to the number of improvements made, the cards are starting to wear a bit thin. My playtime sat at around eleven hours, including filling in the whole map, clearing every difficulty in the mini-game, and doing half a quest line. This could perhaps be the shortest of the (so far) three games, and I feel if you’re going to make three entries in less than a year, paring things down is probably not the best approach. While I’m a fan of these games, I do hope there’s a bit more of a break before they go fish another one out. It’s still an enjoyable game but this third entry sits distinctly in third place to me.