You don’t often hear the terms deckbuilder and real time strategy together. That’s exactly what drew me into Void Grim, a space battle themed real time deckbuilder where cards are you weapons and buffs. Its fast, furious and little bit too chaotically mindless for its own at times, but Void Grim certainly fights its own corner.
This is a rougelike through and through. Every run is standalone and there is no overall progression. On easy difficulty, this isn’t a problem but RNG factors will sway your success on normal and hard modes. Whilst enemies are switched up a little, the RNG comes in the form of what cards are offered to you after each wave of enemies. You are able to pick from one of three cards to add to your deck and your deck will quickly become varied. You can choose to take cash instead and visit a shop every 3 waves too and that brings its own boon.
Cards vary greatly and there’s about 30 in total. Some are quick fire damage with lots of ammo and short recharge times. Other stronger cards may inflict area damage (you’ll have up to three enemies attacking at once) and not only have less ammo but longer recharge cooldowns and discard timers too. You can have six cards at once and you’ll need to switch the used ones out to bring new ones in and the choice is random based on your deck. Some cards boost your shield or the recharge of it and I found the reload ammo card very useful if paired with some big damage attacks.
Enemies gang up to attack you back, also on their own timers and cool downs and status effects are a big deal in Void Grim. Healers and protectors will put up shields for you to blast through and certain weapons work better than others. Its often a choice of which status bringer should you take out first – its not wise to go brute force for the big guy straight away. Enemies cycle in and out quickly too keeping you on your toes.
To combat all this, every 3 rounds you can arrive at a shop and buy either upgrades to your ship for health, shield, shield regen or damage. This costs money, hence the trade off between cards and cash. The other curveball are crew. These also cost cash and you can hire up to six at once and they all bring buffs. Grab the crew member that gives 30% more ammo, you can pair that with the ammo card and really spam some big attacks. Just remember to hire a crew member that will raise your health or regen too to try and cover your bases.
With all this going on, there’s a lot Void Grimm has to offer. It is a shame then that all too often, I felt like I was reduced to spamming clicks on cards to work my way through things because it felt like that was often the only option I had available. The game isn’t hardcore tier difficult but often on harder difficulties, you just end up throwing everything at it to survive as holding back doesn’t benefit you. You might as well just click away on everything and stack the attacks. There is also two ships available and the second ship offers a time stopping mechanic that isn’t explained at all. I like the idea that different ships warrant different playstyles – that’s great. It just didn’t feel nearly as well balanced as the main Void Grimm playthroughs.
Thankfully, Void Grimm is receiving updates and there are hints of more ships to come, increasing the replayability. I love the concept but could have done with a bit more of a tutorial on the nuances of the gameplay. After several hours, I’m largely button mashing my way through and doing quite well so I feel like I’ve missed something somewhere along the way. Void Grimm is an interesting experiment and there’s merit here, it just needs a few more rounds of polishing.
Review copy provided by developer and the review is based on the May 2022 Early Access build.
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