When I was pitched the idea for Yomi, I was a little uncertain. As a young person in the ’90s, I grew up on Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat while carting around my Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering cards at school. The idea of combining the two in any way seemed destined to fail. But, true child of the ’90s I am, and lover of both genres of games, I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised.
Yomi at its core is a fusion of a card game and a fighting game. It’s a digital version of a physical card game we’ve already reviewed. You’re playing as a fighter, matched up against another, and the move you use is decided by the card you play. Because you only have so many cards in your hand, and replacements are drawn randomly from your deck, luck comes into play combined with both the strategy of what move to play and the strategy of hand-management. What comes out of this is a gaming experience I’ve never quite experienced before.
Much like other card-game hybrids (Metal Gear Acid comes to mind), it’s not all good. One important aspect of the fighting game genre is lost. Pacing. In fighting games, the speed of decision-making is important, often leading less experienced players to button-mash while the professionals string together truly inspiring combos. With Yomi, moves don’t happen until both players have placed cards, eliminating any aspect of pacing. Without even a match timer, the game feels casual enough that you could wander away and make a sandwich between moves. This isn’t all bad, but, for hardcore fighting game fans, it’s a huge change in speed.
Overall, I would have to say that Yomi is a good game for people who are already fans of both genres but is ultimately unlikely to make converts of anybody who doesn’t already like both. The characters are well-designed, the game seems well-balanced for players of different types, and the game’s difficulty is easy enough for beginners while being complicated enough to make players want to sink some time into practice.
If you’re a big fan of card-based strategy games, consider picking it up, but at $14.99 (double that if you want all of the characters) it might be one to wait on a Steam sale for.