Shadow Era

 
Compelling online collectible card game has unusual twists.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Shadow Era boasts a generic "Good vs. Evil" plot that casts players as the hero of the story.

Positive role models

There isn't a lot of interaction between characters, but the game does offer brief explanations about why the player must engage the next foe, which is typically a monster or enemy who is up to no good.

Ease of play

Overall, the game is easy to pick up and play. However, players will have to go out of the game and read online help files to grasp the game's finer nuances.

Violence

Some cards can be used to attack using magic and medieval weapons like swords and bows. Attacks are shown as elementary animations, like a sword slicing over the opponent's card. Damage is sometimes indicated by blood splatters, but overall the violence is heavily stylized and not gory.

Sex

Most of the female characters on the cards wear skimpy outfits, which show cleavage and bare midriffs.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Kids can purchase individual cards and starter packs to increase the power of their deck in one of two ways: coins (which take a lot of time to earn), or Shadow Crystals, a premium currency that is obtained with real money or by participating in partner offers, which may require signing up for free trials of other products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Minor privacy and safety concerns: the only thing other players can see about each other is their screen-names.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shadow Era is a free-to-play online collectible card game (CCG) that can be played in PC and Mac web browsers (and on the iPhone, iPad or Android mobile platforms). Kids can play against computer opponents, or challenge other players online. The game is free to play, but players can gain an advantage by spending real money to expand their decks with the best cards. There is some highly stylized violence such as when a player uses a sword card and it then slices an opponent's card. Occasional blood splatters may appear. Female characters on the cards can appear in suggestive outfits. This review was based on the PC web browser version.

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What's it about?

SHADOW ERA's bare bones fantasy story plays second fiddle to its gameplay, which is a variation on other popular card games like Magic: The Gathering with a few intriguing twists. Foremost is the ability to "sacrifice" unwanted cards and turn them into resources that increase the number of cards you can play per turn. Opponents take turns placing or discarding cards from their decks and attacking until the health of one player's Hero card is reduced to zero. Some cards attack while others grant support bonuses, and the types of cards a player is allowed to carry depends on the class and race of the Hero card that is selected at the beginning of the game. (Additional hero cards and starter packs of cards can be purchased separately.)

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Shadow Era is a compelling and well-balanced card game that will appeal to gamers who enjoy collectible card games and the strategy they involve. The game is cross-platform, meaning players can access their deck from any supported device, and play against opponents on different devices -- the only catch being that said device must be connected to the Internet. Shadow Era could use better in-game tutorials instead of driving players to online help files to learn the game's nuances, but overall it's fairly easy to pick up and play.

It's quite possible to enjoy the game without spending real-world money, and players can still build a respectable deck by spending the in-game coins instead of the premium currency. However, earning coins is a much, much slower process that will require a very hefty time investment that not all players might be willing to make.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how collectible card games encourage players to keep paying to build the strongest deck. Is it fair that the person who spends the most money can be the most successful player? Is this a form of marketing to kids?

  • Families can also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of digital card games vs. physical card game that use real cards. Which do you prefer?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Available online
Developer:Wulven Game Studios
Release date:February 24, 2011
Genre:Strategy
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:NR (Mac, Windows)

This review of Shadow Era was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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