One of the greatest joys in living the gamer life is in seeing new games with unique gameplay come to life on my computer screen. Even games that amount mostly to a pile of mechanics borrowed from other games breathe fresh life into my gaming life. Lately, I have been playing a great example of such a game. That game is Minion Masters.
Release Date: Dec. 2, 2016 (Early Access), Jan. 2018 (Planned Full Release)
Disclaimer 1: Review copy provided by developer
Disclaimer 2: Minion Masters is still in its Early Access stage
Minion Masters is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from the recent surge of online collectable card games, such as Hearthstone, and redirects that inspiration into a player-versus-player tower defense game.
The game is simple. You choose one of the (currently) nine masters and build a deck containing minions and spells. Then you square off against another player in a bid to destroy each other’s tower.
Unlike any card game I’ve ever played, Minion Masters is entirely in real-time. There are no turns here. Over time, you build up mana and experience and use that mana to spawn minions or cast spells. The experience levels up your master, giving you nice perks depending on which master you’ve picked.
Even being early access, minion masters has a decent selection of cards to choose from. Some of them are quite strong, and many of them are underwhelming. The charm of this game largely comes from the fact that many types of cards are countered by others. For example, when you see a big hulky minion barreling down toward your tower, all you need to do is toss a flying guy their way, and you’re golden. Fliers buzzing around like mosquitos? Shoot ‘em down with ranged minions.
That said, there are plenty of minions that just outclass other similar minions, and chances are you don’t have them unless you’ve put either money or time into the game. It’s the sad truth of collectable card games.
Also unlike many CCGs, there are no “class” cards in Minion Masters. Some of the masters give you special cards as their level up rewards, but there are no master-specific cards for you to build into your deck from the start. On one hand, it is kind of nice to see everyone sharing the same card pool. On the other hand, without class cards, one or two masters will prove to be the strongest, leaving the others obsolete when everybody starts playing to win. I can already see masters like Ravager and Volco trailing behind the others.
Minion Masters can be a major time sink, especially as the progression through the player levels becomes slower at higher levels. Getting new cards is costly, and you can only buy one at a time. At a certain point, acquiring the gold you need to buy those cards gets harder to acquire. Daily quests usually give you enough gold to buy one or two cards. If you plan on playing passed those dailies, don’t expect to be getting loads of cards.
While certainly not perfect, Minion Masters benefits from having a clearly dedicated development team. Right from the main menu, you can see projected updates and goals. They consistently add new features – such as a replay system – and new content – such as new minions, spells, and masters. They even keep up with balance changes, buffing or nerfing minions as needed. Minion Masters is clearly the product of a loving dev team.
Overall, Minion Masters’ high speed strategy and humorous, colorful style create a bizarrely addicting game. There is just enough strategy to make you want to pick the game apart, but it also lends itself well as a fun, casual experience.
I don’t usually give a full score for early access games, but I’ll make an exception here.
+Well-Maintained By Developers
-Potential Balance Issues
Score: 3 / 5