Ancient Enemy is a card based role playing game. It reminded me quite a bit of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords for the Nintendo DS in terms of how the game felt. How Ancient Enemy plays is quite different in a surprising and pleasant manner.
The main gameplay loop for Ancient Enemy is a one on one card battle with an AI opponent. You have a randomly generated grid of cards, very similar to a game of solitaire. You must then move a card either lower or higher in value by one number onto the playing area. For example, if the current card in play has a value of five, you can remove either a four or a six from the field and place it on top of the five. Doing so charges up your attack cards.
You have available many types of attack cards, including physical attacks with weapons, and magical attacks with elemental attributes and bonus status effects if you can execute a combo. You also have available a defensive ability. You can only equip three abilities total, and oftentimes a balance of a physical attack, magic spell, and defensive ability works out quite well.
In order to charge up each attack, you need to clear the corresponding card type on the field. For example, the fire spell Pyre requires you to clear three magic cards from the field. Once you have cleared three magic cards, the Pyre spell is available to use. If you manage to clear many cards on the field in one turn, you’ll unlock a combo which will grand bonus damage, bonus damage blocked, or extra status effects depending on the card.
The game has available ten chapters, and each chapter consists of fights with minions and searching nearby areas to draw power. After you defeat the boss at the end of the chapter, you are able to upgrade a skill in your passive skill tree, and buy new spells and abilities with your power points. Ability cards are one time use per battle that make removing the cards from the field much easier. You also have available consumable items and weapons that can be used to make fighting your opponent much easier.
The game feels great and it is incredibly satisfying when you figure out the mechanics and manage to pull off a massive combo. Just like Puzzle Quest on the Nintendo DS, this game came out of nowhere and ended up being a pleasant surprise.