When I dived into Mahokenshi, it really took me by surprise! Having played a fair few deck builders in the past, I was expecting this to be a relatively straightforward affair. And whilst I wouldn’t say that it is a completely new direction for the deck builder genre, there have definitely been some interesting inclusions that may just help it to stand out among the many other card based video games.
What makes Mahokenshi so fascinating?
The gameplay in Mahokenshi is quite intriguing. It mixes together the typical board game movement structure, with turn based strategy and deck building mechanics. Using your limited energy, you can traverse the map, seek out better cards or engage in battle with the various threats on the island. Whilst the card deck is primarily used for combat, with offensive and defensive skills being in the mix, there are also a variety of traversal cards available as well. This can make moving through the different types of terrain much easier.
I found that the systems here were very intuitive. It opens up options as to how you would like to approach each objective. Also, given that after each round your whole deck is shuffled again, you are never truly sure of what you will have to work with. This is where the actual deck building comes in. You have a full list of your cards available to you at any time. It is up to you to decide which cards to keep, upgrade or destroy. You also can buy and/or collect new cards for your deck as well.
This makes managing your deck and stacking it in your favour a little more interesting. As previously mentioned, after each round (that is once your energy is depleted), all your cards are reshuffled and re-dealt. If you have too many cards, tracking your most useful ones can become more difficult. However, having too few cards can leave you unprepared for a sticky situation. So knowing what to use and where, and knowing what to get rid of is vital to completing your quest. And honestly, trying to work out the best approach is half the fun!
What is Mahokenshi about?
Mahokenshi’s premise is simple. Protect the Celestial Islands from the incoming onslaught of deadly demons. You take control of one of four Samurai, and must defend the innocent of the villages on these islands. Unfortunately, as far as the narrative is concerned, that is about all there is to it. Mahokenshi does not provide much more than that. Only a few very short cutscenes, and an occasional bit of lore. But most of this boils down to, “this island is under attack, protect it” or “a villager is in need, help them.” It would have been nice to see more of an effort made here! As it would provide some reason as to why we are traversing the Celestial Islands beyond the generic do hero stuff because you’re a hero. Thankfully this is the only real let down in an otherwise really enjoyable title.
The world of Mahokenshi…
There isn’t too much that I can say about the aesthetics of this title. It is really simple, but is exactly what is needed! The board game layout looks great, and honestly gave me real Settlers of Catan vibes. I did appreciate that there was a lot of effort put into animating various tiles on these maps! It helped to make the world feel alive. I did also enjoy the various attack and defense animations that were used here, as it added an extra layer to the game. The developers could have settled for very simple and generic damage animations, especially given that a lot of deck builders do go for this approach (which is not necessarily a bad thing). However, it was nice to see some extra attention to the details here.
Overall, Mahokenshi is a surprisingly good adventure deck builder. It achieves everything it sets out to. It is simple to understand, but still maintains a level of challenge which requires time to master. The narrative is disappointing and really needed a lot more to draw players into the game’s lore. But this can largely be overlooked, because the gameplay is honestly quite addictive at times. Mahokenshi is a good game that is worth giving a go, even if for just a few hours.
By Samuel Incze
Mahokenshi is a surprisingly good adventure strategy deck builder. The gameplay systems are simple and easy to understand, yet still provide a significant amount of challenge. The narrative is a bit of a disappointment, providing you with merely a very short blurb before throwing you into each level. However, this can largely be overlooked, because the gameplay is honestly quite addictive at times. The board game style level design is really charming, and works perfectly for Mahokenshi. Overall, it is a good game that is worth giving a go, even for just a few hours.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Iceberg Interactive. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.