This post is a response to my experience with the Shadowverse anime. To start, know that I was not a fan; the show was not good. But to put more of a point on it, the show was really not good. And to drive it home so there can be no misconceptions:
Shadowverse, the anime, was a misguided cash-grab attempt to capitalize on a fad twenty years after the fact.
The reason I subjected myself to such a series: 1) makes for a good story, and 2) is necessary to understand how we got to this, the original game. But first, allow me to quickly explain what Shadowverse (the game) is to those who may not know.
Shadowverse is a 2016 free-to-play mobile deck-building game from Cygames Studios. Employing a play style in a vain similar to 2014’s Hearthstone, players use a vast collection of cards to knock their opponent’s health down to zero while simultaneously building up various offensive and defensive units.
While the goal is straightforward, achieving it requires thought, planning, and strategy. And since this game has existed for five years (as of this post’s September 2021 release), there are now hundreds of collectible cards a player can pull from to build a deck to their liking.
As I am writing these Impressions, it occurs to me how much there is to talk about. Consequently, I don’t expect you to read this post’s segments with equal interest. For you see, to give Shadowverse its due course, we must discuss:
- How I came to play
- The in-game storyline
- The different play styles
- How the game and the anime differ
- My general thoughts and experiences
Feel free to jump around as you see fit.
Thus, without further ado, the following are my Impressions of Shadowverse the game.
The Shadowverse Series Will Be Referred to As Follows
- – SV Mobile
- – SV Anime
Let this be a lesson to you kids: Alcohol causes unforced errors.
I would have never watched SV Anime in a rational world, let alone play the original game. The series sits at 48 episodes, and I simply don’t have the time to watch something that long on a whim; I need to have a reason. As it happened, I thought I had found such a reason.
My friend, bondboy8, came over to my place for a night of board games and drinks. As things went on, I was talking about Anime Hajime, and bondboy was talking about his Twitch channel (which you all should check out) when he mentioned:
“So, the game I stream, Shadowverse, got an anime recently; have you heard of it? I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s not very good.”
I responded, “I have not. I’ll make a note of it, though, and check it out later.”
“Okay, but, again, it’s supposedly not a good show.”
That, of course, was a barebones paraphrasing of our conversation. However, it was a paraphrasing, NOT because it was longer. Instead, I had drunk far too much whiskey, and I don’t remember it. Except, that note I made was real, and the following day, I turned to my wife and asked, “Honey, what is Shadowverse?”
“I don’t know; you and bondboy were talking about it last night.”
In my head, I thought, “What would cause me to go out of my way to make a note of this series? For me to do that…it…must…mean…bondboy really likes the show and is requesting I cover it for the site. And Odyssey, even when sloshed, will always honor an anime request.”
With that assumption, I began watching SV Anime, and rather quickly, it dawned on me, “Dear God, what have I done.”
I had this pang of dread because I knew I was about to rail on this series my friend enjoyed. And more than that, I didn’t understand, “why the hell does he like this; this show is utter garbage.”
A few weeks go by, and I head over to bondboy’s place for another round of drinks and games. Having nearly completed SV Anime at that point, I worked up the nerve to inquire:
“Hey, so you know that Shadowverse anime you were telling me about the other day? I’m watching it for the site….”
“Oh yeah, is it as awful as I keep hearing about?”
“YOU HAVE NO IDEA!”
I then proceeded to tell bondboy about SV Anime, and the look of disbelief on his face was almost – ALMOST – worth sitting through the show. It turns out, the Shadowverse I knew was nothing remotely like the Shadowverse he knew.
After about an hour of ranting, bondboy suggested I join him for one of his streams to see the true Shadowverse. I agreed, and you can watch part of our playthrough of the Luna storyline either at the bottom of this post or on bondboy’s YouTube Channel (which, like his Twitch, you should check out).
And now we’re here.
Note: As of this post going live, there are thirteen chapters to the SV Mobile storyline. For the purposes of this Impressions post, I only played through the first two.
Chapter 1 splits into eight separate character segments, each beginning with the following message:
From there, SV Game introduces us to its main characters:
There is also Yuwan, but I did not play as him for this Impressions post.
These seven champions encounter shadow beasts emerging from the Morning Star. These monsters feed off human sorrow and serve under the deity Nexus.
The champions battle their way to the Morning Star, where the mysterious Eris Anthule has promised they can find the salvation they seek. Upon reaching the Morning Star, the champions enter a dream world based on their desires. However, they all reject the illusion and return to reality.
Once back, they band together to stop Nexus from destroying the world.
That is the absolute minimum I can say about this story because:
- The character segments are interconnected, and you cannot experience the entire plotline by just playing one.
- All the segments (that I played) were surprisingly good; some were even quite fantastic, and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of them.
And so we are clear about what I just said:
This FREE-TO-PLAY MOBILE GAME had a story that was worth a damn.
No two characters played the same, and we’ll get to their nuances in a moment. But quickly, let’s take a look at the basic game mechanics of SV Mobile:
- At the start of a match, each player has 20 hit points
- The game chooses the order of play at random
- Player 1 gets the first opportunity to play a card
- Player 2 gets the first opportunity to evolve a card (more on evolution in a second)
- Both players begin with three cards in their hand
- At Turn 1:
- Player 1 draws 1 card and plays
- Player 2 draws 2 cards and plays
- From Turn 2 to the end of the match:
- Both players draw 1 card
- To play a card, players must spend the number of Play Points as designated by the card
- Players earn Play Points automatically as the match progresses – up to a maximum of 10
- For example:
- Turn 1 – Players have access to 1 Play Point
- Turn 4 – Players have access to 4 Play Points
- Turn 10 – Players have access to 10 Play Points
- Players alternate pulling cards from their hands to their board.
- With the cards on their board, players have a chance to attack cards on their opponent’s board or attack their opponent directly.
- From Turn 4 for Player 2 and Turn 5 for Player 1, players may elect to evolve a card
- All evolved cards have higher Attack and Defense Points
- Some evolved cards offer special bonuses
- Play continues until one player loses all their hit points
That is a lot, I know, but it all becomes second nature after a few games. Then, once you feel you have a handle on the basics, you can start considering the play style of your chosen character’s unique class, which are as follows:
Forestcraft relies on many low Play Point value cards, typically in the form of fairies. While this will often cause you to hit your hand limit (10 cards) quicker than other classes, you have access to a lot of fodder that can fuel, enhance, and/or activate powerful cards.
Swordcraft employs a Knight-Commander system. Knights offer up basic yet reliable and well-guarded cards to attack an opponent’s forces. Commanders may not have attack values themselves, but they do provide significant buffs to Knight cards.
Runecraft is a spell-based class. At the start of the match, spells have little attack strength, minimal defenses, and mostly serve as opportunities to draw more cards. However, the more spells you cast, future spells will become much, much more robust.
Dragoncraft is an attacker class. It allows players a chance to earn Play Points much quicker than their opponents. Therefore, you’re capable of playing powerful cards earlier in a match. Also, Dragoncraft has Overflow, which offers even more bonuses.
Shadowcraft employs Necromancy, which requires Shadows to activate. There are various ways to earn shadows – spell cards, loss of cards on the board, etc. – and sometimes it is a good idea to sacrifice your board. With enough Shadows, you can unleash devastating attacks.
Bloodcraft is a high-risk, high-reward class. You can only access Bloodcraft’s true power once you reach 10 Hit Points or lower, thus entering Vengeance mode. While this means you are at a defense disadvantage, the payoffs can be truly devastating to your opponent.
Havencraft centers around Countdown amulets, which often means you can’t attack until the countdown timer reaches 0. While this gives your opponent early opportunities to land free hits, the match can instantly flip upside-down once an amulet activates.
Game vs. Anime
I think I knew SV Mobile would be better than SV Anime at the – let’s see – probably the title screen.
Since my dislike of SV Anime isn’t a secret, saying something like that might sound hyperbolic. I assure you, though, it very much wasn’t. From the opening minutes of the game alone, I could envision the boardroom behind the anime. It was full of out-of-touch old men in suits wondering how they could make a quick buck (or, in this case, yen).
This board considered what was popular and noticed that SV Mobile has quite the following. Along with that, many of Cygame’s other properties (the company behind SV Mobile) have had anime adaptations. And do you know what the masses like – card games. Remember Yu-Gi-Oh? Let’s just do Yu-Gi-Oh. Never mind the fact that fad pittered out twenty years ago.
The rest is history.
Now, what is the first thing you think of when you imagine a dark fantasy world as the setting for a story filled with death, hardship, and suffering? Is it a group of middle schoolers playing a smartphone game and participating in tournaments that somehow leads to the eve of the apocalypse?
Of course you don’t because you’re not insane. And yet, SV Anime exists.
Having now played SV Moblie, my hatred for SV Anime has only deepened; I didn’t think that was possible. SV Anime isn’t just bad; it is wrong. It was so wrong that I am convinced a conscious effort went into making the game and the anime separate.
And it wasn’t just the main production. Every aspect of the SV Anime appeared determined to reference the game as little as possible.
For example, the Tree of Woe.
So, if you are an English player of SV Mobile, you most likely have no idea what I am talking about; my friend, bondboy, didn’t when I joined during one of his Twitch streams. As we played the game, I saw the Tree of Woe and pointed it out. He turned to me and said:
“No, that’s the Morning Star.”
“Well,” I responded,” In the anime, they called it the Tree of Woe.”
“Oh, that must have been a fansubbing mistake.”
“I watched it on Crunchyroll, so that’s not what happened.”
I looked it up. In Japanese, the Morning Star is Wazawai no Ki (災いの樹), the Tree of Calamity; a.k.a., the Tree of Woe. You would think SOMEONE would have said, “Hey, this is what the English version calls this thing.” Thus the poor person who had to sub SV Anime, who most likely didn’t know it was based on a mobile game, saw the Japanese, did their job and left it at that.
Except, the subbing tried giving English names to the characters, DESPITE THEIR NAMES APPEARING IN ENGLISH IN THE ACTUAL SHOW!
There is no point in listing the differences between SV Mobile and SV Anime. These are two separate entities, and the latter tried to leach off the success of the former.
If you would like to know more about the failings of SV Anime, bondboy and I have an excellent discussion of it in the Shadowverse Stream with bondboy8 section. Although I recommend checking out the entire stream, to hear our conversation jump to the 32:00 mark.
If you’ve skipped right to this section, I do not blame you. After all, my impression of SV Mobile in this Impressions post is the main point.
And if you’ve read your way to here, you, my good friend, are a trooper, and I applaud you.
But in all truthfulness, I wouldn’t have put in this much effort for SV Mobile if I didn’t enjoy it. Although I can’t say when or if Anime Hajime will ever showcase Shadowverse again, I will keep playing this game for the foreseeable future.
It is a lot of fun.
One of the first things I noticed about SV Mobile was its generosity; it gives you a ton of cards to start. When talking with my friend and SV Mobile Twitch streamer, bondboy, he said this was not a game you need to spend money on; you can make a competitive enough deck with the free cards. From what I have seen, I have no reason to doubt him.
Granted, I don’t yet have enough experience with the game to start planning out a deck of my own. I chose from the premade selections for the story, and I found a few builds I like.
Having said that, the most obvious question is: Which class did I like the best?
That is not an easy answer because I thought they all had their merits. I can at least confirm, there wasn’t a class I flat out hated. Still, gun to my head, I lean more towards Havencraft and Dragoncraft.
Incidentally, I tend to overlook Bloodcraft; I am not big on having that low of health regardless of the buffs.
But no matter what class I happen to be playing, SV Anime did get one thing right in a surprising way. A match is not over until it is over. There are plenty of opportunities to make a comeback. I don’t remember who I did it with (Eris would be my guess), but I was dangling at 2 Hit Points for a long time before I somehow managed to turn things around.
I’m not trying to reference anything, but, yeah, Shadowverse is fun, especially when you chain together multi-card combos. I am by no means an expert; so if I were to challenge an actual player, I’m sure I would get destroyed. However, I am confident with the game’s mechanics. Therefore, I should, at the very least, not embarrass myself too much.
And though I think Shadowverse matches can be exciting, there are times when they can be equally frustrating. During the end of a character’s story arc, for instance, there were times when playing against Eris was total bulls@&%.
Also, the card Demon Strike can go die in a f@$%ing fire.
Besides the addicting gameplay, SV Mobile’s entire presentation was outstanding. Its artwork was beautiful, the voice actors for the main characters did a phenomenal job, and there was a ton of production value for, again, a smartphone game.
But the story, my god, the story legitimately blew my mind.
For each character, there were 15 chapters. The first eight followed your standard fighting game narrative – meet all the characters and learn how to play your selected class. Yes, these opening chapters gave some background for your hero and their motivations. But once you reached the Morning Star, everything cranked up to eleven.
You would think a Shadowverse anime would be the easiest thing in the world to adapt since its potential story is sitting right here.
And speaking of character stories, which was my favorite?
Well, much like which class I liked better, that is a tricky question – oh, who am I kidding? Luna’s was the best. I mean, sure, everyone’s was good, but Luna’s was a clear step above. Warning, it is way darker than you might assume.
After Luna, Urias’ story was pretty freaking entertaining. He is such a colossal prick, but, you know, in a weirdly likable way.
As for my least favorite, I have to go with Eris’. She was a fine antagonist, but as the protagonist, her story made the tiniest splash of the lot.
I believe I said it in the video below, but it bears repeating:
How dare this free-to-play game be this good.
And yet, here it is, and someone didn’t understand what they had when they greenlit SV Anime.
I have seen bad adaptations, but I don’t believe that is what happened here. No, for SV Mobile, there was complete tone-deafness, and that is a massive shame. An anime based on this series can be fantastic if given a proper chance.
But assuming that chance never comes, we have this game, and that is a comforting consolation.
To think, this all came about because I drunkenly went left when I could have easily gone right. I didn’t plan for any of this to happen, but happen it did.
Sure, I had to sit through a horrendous anime to get to this point, but would I do it all again? No. No, absolutely not; I can’t do the show over; please don’t make me do that.
However, given how good this game was, I like to think that somehow, someway, I would have come across it eventually.
Shadowverse, this version of Shadowverse, was – and is – definitely worth checking out.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you played this game? What were your impressions of Shadowverse? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you have read, be sure to follow Anime Hajime on our social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
Plus, if you wish to add your voice to Anime Hajime, why not consider writing for us? If you would like to contribute, check out our Write For Anime Hajime page. We welcome your style.
For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.