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EndCycle VS review - "A true labour of love - just needs a little more polish"

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EndCycle VS review - "A true labour of love - just needs a little more polish"

With its roguelike elements and unique gameplay mechanics, EndCycle VS offers something fresh for mobile gamers in that it's not something you can "auto" your way through. The pixel-art roguelike PvP game lets you "silence the noise" across a grid-based battlefield using lots and lots of combo attacks to eliminate your foes, but is that concept enough for you to give this game a go?

Table of contents:

ENDCYCLE VS STORY AND GRAPHICS

While the game's narrative is supposedly all about saving the world from ancient gods, I honestly didn't get the story when I started playing. It would've been nice if there were a primer of some sort to ease players into the lore. As a narrative-driven gamer, I've always valued the story of a game first before the actual gameplay.

Of course, as you're thrust right into battle during the tutorial, there isn't much time to figure out what's going on - only that you're supposed to fight the Noise (which gives me Chaos Walking vibes) to protect the people. There's the Crimson Force and Azure Shield, and both have their own opposing motivations. I did appreciate how you can play through different sides in the campaign, walking you through where each side stands in this so-called war.

Despite not immediately knowing what was happening, I found the visuals of the game very, very cool, and the background music even cooler. While there are lots of different characters you can unlock as you progress through the game, you initially start off as Rozu, but each character - and foe - boasts fluid animations and lovely character designs both in pixel form and in art form. I love how unique each character looks too - it really breaks away from the too-many anime-themed gacha characters in the market these days.

ENDCYCLE VS GAMEPLAY

Because this is mainly a VS game, the main highlight is the combat. You swipe your character through a grid to either dodge attacks or go on the offensive yourself, using sets of moves or VOCs that are represented by pixelated icons. I personally have an issue with this kind of moveset, as it's a little confusing to get the hang of all these little icons - you're never really too sure what you're doing until you give the icons a go and try your hardest to memorise what they're for.

Some quality-of-life improvements will likely benefit the title here, especially since the battles are so fast-paced that one wrong move might just spell your doom. The colours of the tiles you're on also contribute to your chances of victory - and while it's a nice added layer of strategy, it also adds to the hectic nature of each fight. Add that to the Crush gauge, cooldown timers, and the fact that you'll have to start over upon defeat, and the pressure is really on as you enter every new fight.

Thankfully, there are plenty of modes for you to give your VOCs a test run just to get used to their effects on the battlefield. You can play through the story campaign (which you can only fully unlock by buying the full version of the game), or fight a continuous onslaught of enemies to see how long you can last. You can also duke it out with others online - just be sure you actually know what you're doing once you're out there since the lack of info on the VOCs can make things very spammy in the heat of battle.

WHAT'S THE APPEAL?

EndCycle VS feels like it could be a really great game, but there are some areas that still feel a little unpolished, to be honest. I encountered a bunch of glitches, for example, in the menus every so often, and some of the lines of dialogue during cut scenes are barely visible in some instances. There's a great deal of potential in the game, but these issues should probably be addressed first before it's officially launched (especially since it's designed to be a premium game, I feel, because the ads are incredibly intrusive).

I did have a lot of fun playing the game - don't get me wrong. The highly tactical aspect of customising your deck is an absolute joy, and while I'm no modder, it's nice to see that there's an option for that for the more mod-inclined players out there. It also seems like the devs are actively listening to their eager community of fans, which is always a huge plus. I really did feel the nine years of hard work and patience in this mobile labour of love.

In the end, I think EndCycle VS will benefit from a few more QOL improvements to make sure its deep gameplay mechanics aren't overshadowed by tiny frustrations from players who might end up dropping the game early on because of inconveniences. And while I wasn't the biggest fan of the way VOCs were executed, I did still have a blast during combat because of the totally awesome music - could there be a Spotify playlist for the OST, maybe?

EndCycle VS review - "A true labour of love - just needs a little more polish"

EndCycle VS features fast-paced combat across a grid-based battlefield, as well as charming pixel art graphics and tons of skill combinations to tinker around with. It feels like it lacks a few more QOL improvements, but the awesome soundtrack might just be enough to help you get further into the game.
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