Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be a super hero? Fighting your arch-nemesis, saving the city, and working alongside other super-powered individuals. If you’re a fan of tabletop games then you’ve probably heard of Sentinels of the Multiverse. For those of you that haven’t, Sentinels of the Multiverse is a strategic card game where up to five heroes must take down a lone super villain in wide variety of scenarios and environments. Like the physical set, SotM the video game comes with ten heroes, four villains, and four different environmental cards. I’ve always had a soft spot for tabletop gaming and TCG’s but playing them can be challenging while on the road or when you’re by yourself. Luckily this problem has been solved by Handelabra Games. They’ve managed to port a game with fairly difficult record keeping requirements and make it into an enjoyable and easily accessible game for tablets.
While this game offers your usual array of menu options, it also offers something called “The Multiverse”. The Multiverse serves as an encyclopedia containing all the biographies of each of the characters and their respective decks. This database is so thorough that it even includes backstory to each of the environments and, in the case of Megalopolis, includes other information like the date the city was built and how many annual tourist visitors it receives. This extra content is so incredibly well done that one would expect to find it in its own individual app.
Whether you’re a veteran player or a newcomer just starting out, I would highly recommend the going through the “How to Play” game type first. When you first click it you are shown a comprehensive list of the various mechanics and rules of the game. Once you are done reading, you are given the option of starting a tutorial game. Even if you understand the flow of gampelay and mechanics, it would still be in your best interest to learn the ins-and-outs of this version. After you reach a certain point you are then able to continue the tutorial without any extra hints popping up.
Another design choice I liked is the UI. For starters, the menu systems and dashboards fit the comic book hero theme incredibly well. As each turn progresses the screen flips a page similar to an actual comic book and serves at the transition between turns. As cool as this effect is, the UI seems to blur and stutter before successfully turning the page. Fortunately, there is an option to turn off the page flipping in case you get too annoyed by it.
One of the other highlights of the game is the background music. Whether you’re navigating the menus or in the middle of a battle, the music will be consistently on point and continually adds to the immersion. I decided to plug in a set of headphones and I was amazed that when I used an ability that shot off bullet rounds, they sounded like they were really moving around me. Hats off to whoever edited the audio so that it smoothly moved from my left to right ear and made me feel like I was right in the middle of the action. Although the game has a great soundtrack, the audio accompanying the attacks don’t provide anything substantial. The attack sound effects seem like they were taken from a run-of-the-mill sound library and don’t seem like much effort was put into them.
Sentinels of the Multiverse also has a bunch of nifty little features that enhance the original card game experience. For instance, as the battle continues, your heroes’ outfits will become more torn and beaten as their life inches its way towards zero. The game also implements an extremely helpful rewind button that allows you to go back through any of the previous few turns. Table top games are infamous for requiring a large amount of score keeping, but luckily this game handles calculations incredibly well. At one point I had four of my heroes either buffing their teammates or lowering the stats of the enemy villain.
Although these are all great additions, there is one that stands above the rest: auto-save. At one point during one of my games my iPad shut down unexpectedly. By now I was about two turns away from finishing off the villain. I turned on my tablet and went back to the main menu. I was completely surprised to see a continue saved game button. Upon re-entering the game, I realized it had taken me right back to the turn before my iPad had shut off. The auto-save feature is such a lifesaver I don’t think I would have had the same glowing opinion as I do now.
As of this review, multiplayer has yet to be implemented, which is unfortunate because the social aspect is one of the most important factors of a physical tabletop. As far as I could tell, the game doesn’t even support multiple people playing on the same tablet though that may be coming in an update a little down the road. One of my biggest complaints is that you aren’t able to play as the villain. When you go to start a new game, you’re allowed to pick whichever heroes and villains you want in the game, but it always seems to default to playing as the heroes. As much fun as the game is, there are still a ton of missing features that hold it back from being a fully operational port of the original game.
Whether you’re a fan of tabletop gaming or not, this game has a lot to offer. Everything has transferred over really well from their physical versions and makes it seem like a completely new game while still honoring the base game. I got the chance to play an early version of this game at PAX Prime a month ago and I have to admit that at the time I wasn’t really impressed. Poor animations and the uncertainty of being able to move a card with my finger was a huge turnoff. But seeing as how polished the game has become really shows how dedicated the developers were when they decided to make the game the best it could be.