The new mode makes the game easier to understand, while also being a fun experience
The simplicity of the original feels compromised
The gameplay still bears some of the issues of the original, albeit mitigated
If launching a completely independent card game on Kickstarter wasn’t bold enough, it sure takes some pluck to return with an expansion sequel.
But it’s no real surprise considering the insane success the first Kickstarter campaign met. At S$206’108 raised with a S$5’700 goal, Endogenesis raised over 3’600% and has been well-received by its 2’700 backers.
And while a sequel (read: cash grab) would have been a no-brainer for most commercial game developers, venturing into the sticky realm of franchise building is one that plenty of independent developers avoid.
Hyperlixir, the creators of Endogenesis, have decided to take on this bold challenge. But it’s not as simple as throwing out a bunch of new cards that fit into the gameplay of the original. Endogenesis: Beyond, as this expansion is dubbed, goes above and beyond (sorry, I had to) to give fans not just more of what they love, but a whole new experience.
Off the bat, Beyond introduces not only a bunch of new skills to the already established skill sets from the original game, but also an entirely new one: Voltaic. Inspired by the element of electricity, Voltaic puts a unique spin on its abilities by having players function as organic batteries. From slowly building charges turning you into a time bomb, to manipulating your own energy to yield unique effects, Voltaic skills are a game changing mechanic that differentiates Endogenesis’ gameplay from other games.
Additionally, the new skills include abilities such as Initiative and Deathcry–previously abilities exclusive to monsters. While these do add a certain novelty to the gameplay dynamic–i.e., allowing players to access the abilities of their foes–the actual feasibility is questionable as the additional effort required may convince some players to forego these new skills entirely.
Thankfully, Beyond goes further in bridging the expansion to the original set in other ways. Firstly, the new complete set is more than just the original + expansion–Hyperlixir’s taken the year’s worth of feedback to improve the game and tweak some of the original cards for the purpose of improved gameplay.
Secondly, the expansion’s game design attempts to do what many other games fail to: evolve the original library of skills to keep up with the new ones. Where many games often suffer from later abilities being blatantly superior to the original, Endogenesis: Beyond introduces a new feature, Augment, which affects the cost/function of a skill. Use it wisely and you’d be wielding an improved ability–go at it blindly and it may just shoot you in the foot.
While Beyond certainly is a step up from the original, the drawback is that these new skills and conditions come at the cost of compromising the original’s simplicity. While the first one was a potential gateway to more complex tabletop games, Endogenesis: Beyond sometimes feels like it has departed from its casual playability and emulates the demands of a dedicated campaign game.
Unfortunately, the nature of the game doesn’t necessarily elicit the level of satisfaction or immersion one would gain from an otherwise equally demanding experience. While this might work to the advantage of those who’re seeking all the drama of an actual RPG without the commitment, other players may find it draining.
Conversely, while variety in gameplay formats is not something one would usually expect in a card game such as this, Endogenesis: Beyond offers a new, somewhat lite variant as an option with its Tactical mode. And although this mode functions well enough independently to be its own game, it also inadvertently serves as a tutorial for players new to Endogenesis.
Of course, a drawback with this is that you just might find yourself playing the Tactical mode more often than the actual one. Though, coupled with the Chaos Royale solo mode, is a game with three modes really something to complain about?
Endogenesis: Beyond will hit Kickstarter on the 25th of February. The campaign will feature the expansion at S$45, and the complete Base + Expansion set for $104. Returning backers will also receive an upgrade pack to update their existing base game, bringing it up to speed with the new edition.