Home Reviews 3/5 Review Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics Review

Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics Review


The auto battler sub-genre is a relatively new branch to the old strategy tree, which means there’s less competition and success is more likely. So naturally it makes sense for indie developer Nintai Studios to foray into this less crowded area of the market with their feline-filled roguelike, auto battler card game, Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics.

Can Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics dig its claws in and keep you hooked, or will it fail to put a spell on you?

Spellcats Auto Card Tactics review 1
Build up your Spellcats

The premise here sees you assume the role of a sentient cat in a world dominated by humans. A specific group of humans, dubbed ‘Nekocasters’, are exploiting poor kitties for their own devious schemes. It’s up to you to fight back against the evildoers and free your fellow Nekos by using magic to summon other cats to join the crusade. Well, that’s according to the description for Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics, because in the game itself there’s not a lot of storytelling going on. It’s bordering on non-existent, hence you shouldn’t hold any hope for a gripping tale.

That’s fine though for a card-based roguelike, as long as the rest of the offering is up to scratch.

In Adventure mode, the only mode, the aim is to work your way through three dungeons, with a boss heading up each one. You can choose which path to take, allowing you to venture towards routes featuring trickier foes, or journey along more mysterious nodes within the dungeon. It’s simple stuff to be honest and doesn’t really showcase anything out of the ordinary.

Before heading into a battle, you have to recruit cats for your squad using mana. A total of seven cats/cards can be in the deck at any point, but the option is present to sacrifice and hire others regularly. There are five different elemental types to consider – Earth, Electric, Fire, Ice, and Water. If the cats on offer aren’t to your liking, a re-roll is possible by paying the mana fee. Pick wisely however, because the composition and placement of the team heading into battle is the most crucial part.

Given that cats with the same element often have great synergy, it’s sensible to find which one suits your playstyle. For me, the electric cats are the go-to group due to the overpowered combinations involving spawning more cats whose deaths would then boost the stats of another. The icy gang often provide a more defensive approach, while the fiery ones go down in a blaze of glory by causing damage in the aftermath of their demise. Card synergy is a real highlight, but there’s a little bit of me that wishes hybrid squads were more beneficial than they are presently.

Nevertheless, summoning the Nekos is half the battle as you must organise them in your hand. It’s quite clever how the placement in the deck can actually sway the contest in your favour. Putting cards who gain stats from the demise of allies means it’s unwise to have them first in line. Likewise, if a card passes on a skill to another in a certain position, then you want to ensure the best one is a beneficiary of it. There’s a real emphasis on strategy here, before diving into the next conflict.

Spellcats Auto Card Tactics review 2
Making the most of Merlynx

Upon launching a fight, there’s literally nothing for you to do. No input whatsoever as you watch your cards attack the opponent’s cards until someone is left without an army. When it goes to plan, there’s fun to be had as it plays out before your eyes and you can relax knowing you can’t affect the outcome. Achieving victory nets you XP, which helps you level up and garner better, more expensive, cats. It’s over pretty swiftly and then you begin preparations once again.

Expect to learn almost everything through trial and error, for the tutorial in Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics is beyond basic and fails to fill you in on any of the quirky mechanics. The fact that cards have abilities, that you can merge three of the same card to create a special upgraded version, and even that losing a fight isn’t the end of the world, are all things you just have to figure out. In regards to losing, you simply lose a bit of your overall health and move on to the next stage. These are fairly important aspects, yet they’re not conveyed sufficiently.

Once you grasp what’s going on, I must admit it is stupidly easy and overcoming the bosses is child’s play. You’ll be waltzing through the three dungeons in like half an hour without breaking a sweat once you realise the importance of synergies and merging cards. As such, the fun factor wanes after a few runs and you just mindlessly steamroll whatever opposition you face.

Back to the positives though, and the variety of cats is darn good, with new ones being introduced upon beating the Adventure mode. This helps to bring freshness to each playthrough as you test out the newcomers. Design-wise, it’s almost like they’re parodies of other familiar creatures, especially Pokemon, which is interesting as you try to guess the reference. There’s even a cat that’s mimicking the ‘This is Fine’ meme, so that should give you a good idea of the silliness.

While it doesn’t appear there are any major issues with Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics, a number of smaller problems will rear their heads. Some of them are silly errors, such as card descriptions not matching up with what ability a cat actually possesses. It’s quite annoying when it says that something happens if an electric feline is defeated, yet it triggers for fiery allies instead. Even the trinkets are unreliable, with one in particular offering shields at the beginning of combat, but it never comes to fruition. Throw the incomplete glossary, missing cards I’ve seen numerous times, and the irritants soon mount up.

Spellcats Auto Card Tactics review 3
There are some frustrations with Spellcats

Perhaps the most frustrating thing with Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics is the apparent omission of a manual or automatic save during a run. I don’t care that you could wrap up a playthrough relatively quickly, for there should be the option to jump in without the pressure of having to go all the way.

Overall, Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics is an auto battling roguelike card game that’s missing a few tricks and won’t put you under its spell. The card designs, their synergies and the strategic preparation stage deserve praise, for sure. However, it’s let down by poor explanations as well as issues surrounding cat abilities, trinkets, and saving your progress. The sheer easiness is also a potential problem as your appetite to replay the Adventure mode will diminish rapidly.

Maybe grab Spellcats: Auto Card Tactics in a sale, because there are some nice ideas amongst the issues.

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Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
spellcats-auto-card-tactics-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Cool elemental cats ready to auto battle</li> <li>Card synergies</li> <li>Strategic preparation</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Mechanics are poorly explained<li> <li>Numerous issues<li> <li>Too easy<li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, NintaiStudios</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4, PS5 <li>Release date and price - 17 May 2024 | £13.74</li> </ul>
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