Dungeon & Goddess, an anime-inspired hero-collecting RPG from developer Nadiasoft, consists of all the familiar features, and anyone who has played a similar game of the same genre will no doubt feel right at home with its systems.

That said, even the most experienced of players might find the difficulty curve daunting. While most freemium RPGs on mobile let you feel like a god for the first couple of hours, earning XP and acquiring items in abundance, before finally presenting you with the infamous “pay wall”, Dungeon & Goddess is challenging from the get-go.

In theory, that’s a nice thing. It makes the game significantly less flabby than most of its competitors. Right off the bat you’ll have to consider your decisions really carefully and sometimes just hope that Lady Luck smiles on you and gives you the summons you need.

The setting is about as familiar as it can get. Coming into a fantasy-themed world with gods, dungeons, and heroes, you’ll be collecting polished, actually pretty well-animated anime heroes and putting them in different decks.

Collect heroes

As you can probably expect, many of these heroes are young, unrealistically pretty women. Aside from that, though, there’s also an aged English knight, a dwarf, and plenty of other surprising characters including some historical figures such as Genghis Khan.

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There's a big roster of heroes to collect

The combat is turn-based, with you and the enemy taking turns to perform moves. Each hero has 2 abilities per turn to choose from. These can be offensive – such as fire attacks, magical storms, and those kinds of stuff - or they can be defensive, providing healing to party members so that they can last longer in the fight.

There’s another factor to take into consideration as well: Each character belongs to one of 5 elemental classes: Fire, Water, Wind, Lightning, and Earth. These elements work on a rock-paper-scissor system, meaning each one is stronger against another element but is also countered by something else. As a result, you’ll have to prepare the right deck before every battle, because going in against a mismatched opponent can severely limit the effectiveness of your skills.

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The combat is turn-based, with elemental attributes playing a crucial role

And of course, it wouldn’t be a mobile RPG without an upgrade system. You’ll passively earn XP to level up, but you can speed up the process by using EXP potions. There’s another resource called Soul Stones, which can be used to increase the tier of your heroes. Items are upgradable if you want as well, but you’ll need Upgrade Stones for that.

The issue is, these resources are not readily available, and neither are the tickets to summon new heroes and acquire new items.

Work for every victory

You obtain rewards by logging in, Soul Stones for participating in the Tower of Infinity, and other stuff by leveling up, defeating bosses, completing the daily challenges, and so on. But you won’t ever be able to truly take flight from these.

That means the entire game is a tough challenge. You’ll find yourself customizing your deck, entering a battle, getting absolutely demolished, and going back to tweaking the deck again to try and squeeze out any last bit of advantage. Thankfully, you do at least level up pretty quickly. The result of all this, though, is that every little victory feels incredibly meaningful and satisfying.

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An incredibly challenging game where you'll have to work for every victory

All in all, it’s clear that Dungeon & Goddess isn’t for those who are just looking for a game to relax with, and to be honest, the localization is pretty poor, so if that’s an issue for you, then you probably won’t have a good time with this one. But if, on the other hand, you are a hardcore CCG fan who likes to be challenged, you’ll get a kick out of this visually-pleasant yet imposing title.