Yomi 2 Early Access Impressions – Fighting game fundamentals meet card game strategy

Gare – Friday, June 7, 2024 4:49 PM
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Fighting games are undoubtedly a popular genre in the gaming sphere – whether one’s sparring with friends for a bit of casual fun or competing professionally against the very best players in the world, the genre has plenty to offer for a wide variety of gamers across the globe. For me personally, a fighting game’s main draw has always been intrinsically tied to the never-ending mind games one plays when engaging with the genre: reading your opponent’s habits, trying to trick them into making a mistake, and predicting how they will potentially respond to your play style. This is the part Yomi 2 excels at: instead of making you memorize and practice combos like most fighting games, it focuses entirely on the mental aspects of the genre, choosing to instead represent its flashy brawls in the form of quick card matches where planning – and listening to your gut – is key.

A flurry of cards

You might be wondering how that’s even possible, but as someone who’s dabbled a bit in the fighting game genre, I can tell you it works better than you’d think. If we’re talking fundamentals, each deck (character) is made up of a variety of card types that represent their move set: different types of attacks, blocks, throws, unique abilities and supers. Fighting game rules apply here as well: blocks can be countered with throws, throws are interrupted by attacks, and when two attacks clash, the faster one takes priority. When you intend to launch a combo, attacks must be strung together in a logical sequence (think poker) and can, in specific cases, be further powered up by adding even more cards to the pile. And of course, like in a regular fighting game, a solid knowledge of what your character can do will play a crucial role in every match – you’ll want to plan ahead to a certain extent as opposed to just randomly “mashing buttons”, or in this case, randomly playing cards with no rhyme or reason.

A gem for every occasion

I don’t want to get too technical here, and besides, the in-game tutorial does a solid job of explaining everything you need to know in order get started, even if it may seem like a lot to take in at once. After you have the basics down, it’s time to find a character that suits your play style, whether it’s an aggressive rushdown character with quick and snappy attacks, a zoner with relatively safe fireball spam, a grappler with their devastating throws... I could go on. Needless to say, each character archetype is neatly translated into corresponding cards and abilities, making decks feel genuinely different. Further customization is provided by choosing an elemental gem for your character: they each provide a differently flavored set of abilities to bolster your existing card arsenal, from dealing bonus damage to drawing cards or even self-healing, just to name a few. In other words, even if two people happen to be playing the same character, the elemental gems they choose can very much help shake things up and create some interesting variety in every possible matchup. Alternatively, gems are also a good way to enhance your character’s strengths or compensate for its weaknesses, making you sufficiently versatile.

Different decks, different play styles

And now for a bit of personal experience. Initially, I gravitated towards a rushdown character whose game plan revolved around catching the opponent off-guard with a quick opener, then following it up with an insanely long combo of multiple cards for some nice, meaty damage. I felt like I had to be aggressive, draw as many cards as possible and figure out how I could build up the largest amount of damage with the many, many cards I had at my disposal. Later on, I switched to a grappler (a character specializing in throws) and a different elemental gem, and the way I looked at the game changed significantly, altering how I approached combat on a fundamental level. Strategies that might’ve worked with my rushdown main seemed less than ideal now, but in exchange, the cards offered by this new character gave me opportunities for dishing out massive damage with absolutely destructive throws... provided I timed them right. But let’s say you don’t want that – let’s say you’d rather be sneaky and apply a continuously ticking poison debuff to your enemy and use an elemental gem skill to disable their throws, thus limiting their options and making it easier to predict how they’d respond. You can do that, too. Put simply: once you really understand how the various cards and abilities work, you can try to lure your opponent into situations where you objectively have the upper hand. That said, achieving this certainly takes some practice and a smidgen of luck, too.

Either way, my point is that you shouldn’t be scared to try different characters and gem setups – you just might find something pleasantly surprising. Besides, Yomi 2 isn’t just about online play: the game also supports a full single-player career mode if you’d like to duke it out against AI opponents of varying difficulty settings (including a combo practice mode), so there’s plenty of ways to safely experiment without having to face off against a real-life opponent.

Closing thoughts

Yomi 2Platform: Windows, Linux, macOSGenre: StrategyDeveloper: Sirlin GamesPublisher: Sirlin Games, Hawthorn GamesRelease: 06/26/2023So far, my initial impressions of Yomi 2 have been quite positive, and I’m most certainly curious how it will expand and evolve during Early Access. Overall, the game provides a satisfying blend of fighting game fundamentals and mind games, combining it with the sheer joy of drawing just the right cards to unleash a devastating combo or ability against your opponent, while characters are packed with enough individuality to offer different play styles to those hoping to try various unique flavors of card battling. The added feature of elemental gems further helps customize your card lineup to your advantage, and for those not interested in online PvP play, a dedicated career mode and AI opponents with selectable difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard and Unfair) provide a decent amount of card battling goodness to keep coming back to.

Yomi 2 is available via Steam Early Access.

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