|Multiplayer:||Yes, pass n play only|
|AI:||Sort of; the bad guys are handled via an automated deck of cards, making this one suitable for solo play|
|Purchase for iPhone:||None available. Buy an iPad now!|
|Purchase for iPad:||
Sentinels of the Multiverse
GD Star RatingSentinels of the Multiverse,
Handelabra Games made a name for themselves with Sentinels Sidekick, a game aid for the well-regarded but fairly fiddly Sentinels of the Multiverse. Now Handelabra has brought the full game in all it’s Biff! Bam! Pow! glory to the iPad. Ready to save the world?
SotM is a fully-cooperative game in which 3-5 heroes face off against a super villain who has them individually terribly outmatched. The villain and the environment of the battlefield are both controlled by a deck of cards; each hero also has a unique deck defining their powers, attacks, and other abilities.
You’ll first need to choose the villain, heroes, and environment for the battle, which can be either specifically selected or selected randomly. As with most other fully co-op iPad games, the game’s execution is essentially a single-player experience; if you want to take on Baron Blade or Citizen Dawn with allies, you’ll have to do so on the same iPad via pass and play.
Each turn begins with the villain playing cards off their deck. Exactly how those cards are played varies slightly from villain to villain; each villain draws and plays a card each turn, but other game effects can cause cards to come into play by other means. Many villain cards then have damage effects that trigger at the end of the villain turn.
Villains effects are typically based on HP. For instance, they might specifically do damage to the Hero with the most hit points, or they may heal the villain with the lowest hit points. There is a “choose for me” button that will appear, most often showing up when an effect targets all heroes, all villains, or all targets; this saves you from having to individually confirm the effect on each target.
Each hero then gets to act in turn. Your turn begins by playing a card. In the main view, you see each card’s title and a few vital stats; double-tapping zooms the card in for a closer examination. You can either play the card by tapping the button in the zoomed in mode, or by simply dragging it from your hand to the play area in the main view.
On a standard turn, you can play one card and then utilize one power. Each hero has an inherent power they can use, and certain other Ongoing and Equipment cards can give you additional powers to choose from. Tapping a power-bearing card will pull up a green dialog box summarizing the power’s effect; tapping that box will activate the power.
Once all heroes have acted, the Environment takes a turn. This is simply a deck of cards that turn over one at a time, to introduce some random element to the battle. The Environment is not allied with either the forces of good or those of evil, and tends to damage all targets indiscriminately; when it does single out a specific target, it tends to do so based on overall strength rather than on allegiance.
Many game effects cause damage to one or more targets. When you can cause damage to a target, a separate targeting interface opens up, presenting you with all viable targets. Selecting a target will display the final damage your attack will yield, with all active modifiers spelled out. A burst with a hit point number is in the upper right of each target, and it will go down as the target takes damage. Downed villain and Environment cards go to their respective discard piles. Downed heroes take on a more supportive role; while they can no longer play cards, they can trigger effects such as enhancing damage on attacks or allowing their compatriots to play or draw extra cards. The game ends when either all Heroes are downed (a player loss) or the villain has been defeated (a player victory).
Though it’s not based on comic book characters that exist in the wild, SotM contains a rich lore created by the game’s designers.
Each of the 10 heroes, 4 villains, and 4 environments has a complete backstory which can be accessed from the main menu. It’s worth noting that the offline implementation of this game has 23 each of heroes and villains by this point, who do battle in 14 different environments. Whether any of this expansion material will be brought to the iPad remains to be seen.
The game features a fully interactive tutorial that is hosted by Rick, the “Stan Lee” of the Multiverse. He’ll guide you through the first few turns, explaining core game concepts as well as the ins and outs of the interface. The game’s rulebook is also reproduced in the app, and can be accessed at any time.
The elements of the game’s interface are all presented in comic book style. Commands are shaped like dialog boxes in the comics, as are the reports of game effects that transpire as a result of hero, villain, or environment cards. A “Meanwhile” box allows you to get a status report of any aspect of the game when making targeting decisions, and these are presented with the relevant character displaying a thought bubble full of game cards. The heroes and villains even show up on different sides of the screen depending on whose turn it is, and the interface does a comic-book-style page turn to indicate the passing of control. All in all it comes together with a fantastic reverence paid to the source material – despite the source material not technically existing in our reality.
If we have a gripe, it’s possibly with the lack of online multiplay. Though this is common in fully cooperative games, SotM is one of the very few where the closed-hand nature of the game and essentially automated behavior of the villain and environments would lend itself to asynchronous play. Table talk would be lost, but the ability to play the game in a whole new way might make up for it. It’s also worth noting that, for better or worse, a common criticism of the game is that there is usually an obvious “best” move – our reviewer doesn’t necessarily agree with this sentiment, but concedes that it is not infrequently true, and notes that such game states lend themselves perfectly to asynchronous computer games.
SotM is a perfect example of a game where the rich depth of the source material, for most players, covers any perceived flaws in the gameplay. The iPad version automates all of the fiddly record keeping that can sometimes bog down the physical version, as well as rendering setup and teardown nonexistent. While the gameplay style won’t be to everyone’s taste, SotM presents a hugely thematic and simultaneously unique approach to superhero tropes. If you’re anxious to save the world with 2-4 of your closest friends, we highly recommend checking this one out.