Duelyst is a pixel art turn based strategy game set in a world where battles are fought by Bloodborn Generals. Collect hundreds of cards, climb a ranked ladder, and conquer difficult challenges in this breathtakingly beautiful mix of Hearthstone and Hero Academy.
|Publisher: CounterPlay Games
Type: Turn-Based Strategy
Release Date: December 17, 2014
Pros: +Gorgeous Pixel Art. +Deep Strategic Duels. +Fast Paced.
Cons: -Slight Pay-to-Win Aspects. -Money Gated Game Mode.
Duelyst is a turn-based strategy game developed and published by CounterPlay Games. Pit your Bloodborn General against rival city-states in a tournament to decide who takes home the grand prize. Pick from six different heroes and their accompanying dozens of cards into battle, where your units and spells will be summoned to edge out victory. Marvel at the expertly created pixel art characters and breathtaking water color environments in a fully realized world, while collecting hundreds of different cards with vastly different effects and stats—from creatures to spells. Climbing the ranked ladder won’t be easy. Practice the deeper intricacies of a class in a challenge mode where you’ll be forced to complete a puzzle in a specific way.
Duelyst Key Features:
- Pixel Graphics- Masterfully crafted character sprites evoke a sense of neo-nostalgia.
- Tons of Cards to Collect- Hundreds of cards will keep you collecting for a long time.
- Half a Dozen Classes- Significant level of variety in the way you play through a multitude of class choices.
- Challenge Mode- Practice your skills in class-specific puzzles.
- Ranked Ladder- Climb over the bodies of hundreds of enemies to become the very best.
Duelyst Featured Video
Vanar- Specializes in spells that generate walls, allowing you to trap and split opponents. Effects like infiltrate, frost, and the ability to transform minions keep the enemy on their toes. Proper board positioning is key to using this class effectively.
Lyonar- This general inspires units to increase their potential to terrifying heights. Place units close to Argeon to gain effects like increased attack. Similarly, place units near enemies to lock them down from moving or attacking anyone else. Bully your enemy and win through brute strength.
Songhai- Assassinate enemies using backstab while maintaining board control using spells to displace opponents. This class brings the most card combos. A full hand and low mana cards are necessary to win.
Abyssian- Coldly calculate the deaths of minions to buff the ones that are still alive. Clear a board of extremely cheap wraithlings to activate death watch, an effect on certain cards, to grant a massive advantage over the enemy. Careful setup is vital to winning with Abyssian.
Vetruvian- Map pressure is central to Vetruvian's gameplay. Place Obelysks that will constantly spawn minions and keep ranged units in the back to force the opposing general to come to you, and die.
Magmar- Crush enemies with the most powerful units in the game that come back from the dead to continue fighting. Even though this is a fairly simple class, enemies wont be able to stop the constant barrage of strong units in addition to your general who's capable of putting down his own beatdown.
By, Charlie Perez
It’s every strategy game player’s dream: beautiful graphics on top of an extremely deep card-based battle system guided by industry giants. It's Duelyst. From incredibly diverse classes to the stunning visuals, CounterPlay Games debuts with a truly exceptional turn-based trading card game.
The graphics in Duelyst are genuinely a work of art. Pixel perfect positioning and graceful animations combined with a fitting glow or shading depending upon which general you're playing is truly breathtaking; you could watch this game all day long. Double shielded juggernauts smash down on the map with every step, wraithlings look devious, a sly assassin looks untouchable, and the towering giants hold an enormous hammer. All the characters are brimming with personality and originality. This is also seen on every spell effect and every icon. The style and level of expertise matches even Gameboy/Nintendo DS Fire Emblem levels.
While not pixel art, the environments, character portraits, and menus all look sharp. In battle there are plenty of effects, like smoke, that help keep the game visually interesting. Though admittedly it is a bit weird to have such different styles juxtaposed next to each other. Regardless, both graphical presentations look stunning.
Tactical Me Maybe
While fairly dense overall, getting started is quite simple. If you’ve played games like Hearthstone, or more specifically Hero Academy, you’ll be right at home. You have an action bar where your “hand” containing cards is located. The cards have a mana cost that you get more of every turn. Place a unit within your mana constraint on the board within one tile of your general or another unit. Protect your general, akin to a king from chess, from harm while whittling down the opposing general. But that’s not to say you’re general is going to be sitting in the back sipping on Pina Coladas. Your champion has a base level attack of two and twenty five health. Lose that health and its game over. Fear not! Your champion can be buffed, healed, and even attack other units. The general being a unit similar to everyone else is such a nice touch. No longer are you protecting something as asinine as crystals, or a character portrait. It’s your own person and greatest weapon.
On that note, your hero will directly affect the game in ways more than simply a 2/25 unit. Certain characters can significantly buff the hero's attack, such as one that buffs ranged attacks, and another that's core to the hero. Lyonar, a paladinesque archetype, gives his minions buffs by staying within one tile of them. It's something that makes a lot of sense, but rarely implemented. The leader on a battlefield stays close to his soldiers to inspire courage and ferocity. And every character is vastly different from one another, leading to incredibly interesting match-ups.
Sit a Spell
Monsters, deities, and spells—besides being fantastically gorgeous—bring an unprecedented level of diversity. The cards go way past the typical buff, debuff, damage, health regen, or place a unit and forget stereotypes. Create walls, teleport units, attack along a row, taunt/root, fly, and much more, allowing for a significant number of ways to play. There are over a dozen and a half challenges teaching you how to play and combo correctly. For example, the Songhai general fills the assassin archetype. As such, his units are low in health and deal more damage when attacking from behind. They also make many moves in a short amount of time. A combo with this character would go something like: summon unit, teleport behind enemy, buff attack, un-exhaust so he can attack, attack, and un-exhaust again. A typical combo can easily halve an opposing general’s health. The drawback is that it requires almost a full hand of cards, leaving you weak both before and after the combo.
Besides challenges, there is also a single-player practice mode and a ranked ladder. The practice mode allows you to play both sides of the field, allowing you to try out intricate combos without hurting your rank. Ranked mode is fairly typical, win against other players of your skill level for prestige. Similar to the Arena mode from Hearthstone, Duelyst has their Gauntlet. Pick random cards to form a deck and face off against other people who have done the same. Survive longer for better rewards. I dislike the gold gate to this game mode, but the developers have to make their money somehow.
Show Me the Money
Following the standard for trading card games, you start with all basic cards and earn more by buying packs either through in-game gold or real world money. I don’t like this system in Hearthstone and I certainly don’t like it here either. There have been many situations in both games where I would’ve won the game if not for rare/legendary cards having overpowering stats for so little.
It’s so frustrating to not be able to climb the ranked ladder either because I haven’t grinded or spent enough money to keep up with other players. Not pay-to-win by definition, but it’s close enough to make me hesitant about playing at all. Granted, there is no easy solution. Cosmetics are a good choice, but having a rarity system in a card game is extremely deep rooted, and unfortunately won’t be going away any time soon.
Final Verdict - Excellent
This game is so good in every way I had to sit back for fifteen minutes trying to think of any reason to not play Duelyst. I’ve said it a million times already, but Duelyst truly is one of the best looking games I’ve ever played. The strategic diversity is spectacular and lead to many all-nighters, playing only this game. The only problems I had were a result of the game being in beta—the lack of a client for example which has been said to be coming soon. Duelyst is fantastic and my personal game of the year thus far.
Duelyst System Requirements
Operating System: XP / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Equivalent
Video Card: Any Graphics Card (Integrated works well too)
RAM: 512 MB
Hard Disk Space: 100 MB (Cache)
Duelyst is a browser based MMO and will run smoothly on practically any PC. The game was tested and works well on Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Chrome. Any modern web-browser should run the game smoothly.
Duelyst Music & Soundtrack
Duelyst Additional Information
Team Lead: Keith Lee - Keith was the Lead Producer for Diablo III at Blizzard Entertainment and the Lead Game Programmer at Insomniac Games.
Lead Artist: Glauber Kotaki - Glauber was the Lead Artist for the popular game Rogue Legacy and the Animator for Chasm and Deep Dungeons of Doom. As a 2D game artist for over 10 years, Glauber continues to be very active in the indie games community with published articles from Gamasutra.
Lead Environment Artist: Anton Fadeev - When Anton's not making the world of Duelyst come alive, he's busy working on an unannounced sci-fi project. Anton has an extensive background in illustration, web design, and marketing.
Music Composer: Ben MacDougall - Ben has written music for many projects and media-types and recently taught a seminar on bespoke composition for radio at Harvard University. In 2012, Ben won the Jo Horowitz Award in Composition for Screen at the RCM in London and he is the official composer for Bremont. He hosts a weekly radio show for the BBC and in his free time can be found sampling instruments and other objects.
Game Engine: In-house
Closed Alpha: December 17, 2014
Closed Beta: Early to mid 2015
Steam Greelight: April 6, 2014
Development History / Background:
Originally a board game, Duelyst quickly became a full online game at the behest of a close friend of the developers, so that more people could play. On their first day, CounterPlay games raised over $10,000 on Kickstarter. The very next day they raised close to $20,000 and became Greenlit on steam. Only a week later Duelyst was fully funded and thus official development began. Their Kickstarter went on to make over $135,000 in a one month period.