EARLY ACCESS REVIEW: ‘Battle Bands’ Is an Entertaining Deckbuilder (PC)

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Battle Bands - But Why ThoBattle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder is a music-based deckbuilder that combines deckbuilding with catchy tunes as you and your bandmates travel to the top of the music world. Developed and published by Aerie Digital, Battle Bands releases in Early Access on March 17th, 2022.

From the moment I saw the title, Battle Bands posed an extremely interesting combination. Deckbuilders are one of my favorite genres of games, and building and using decks to make music appeals to the musician in me as well. The basis of the game is simple; work together with three other bandmates to create the ultimate hype machine and rock and roll your way to victory. There are currently only two modes in the game, Tour Mode and Royale Mode, but both show extreme promise for the future of Battle Bands.

In Tour Mode, players are tasked with becoming the most legendary band in all of Riff City. Name your band, assemble your band members, and take on various bands and monsters across the entire city. You have the option to work with three online players or simply use bots for a single-player experience. Each band member has a hand of cards to choose from, and those cards are used to earn “hype” points to achieve victory. Pick a song layout, use your cards to stack different beats, and earn more hype than your opponent. The gameplay loop is relatively straightforward, but the number of cards available and the enemies you go up against are diverse and make for an enjoyable time.

My only real complaint about the Tour Mode is that there is no way to leave the active game without ending the entire thing. As a result, I could not save my progress and come back later, which I can see it being detrimental to players who don’t have enough time to commit to a complete playthrough in one sitting. Since the game is in Early Access, I’m hopeful that will change soon, but for now, it can be a dealbreaker for folks without a ton of time available.

Royale Mode is an action-packed adventure where 64 bands compete against each other to claim the title of greatest of all time. The player pool during my preview period was extremely small, but the mode has a ton of potential going forward. While the AI in Tour Mode was challenging at times, being able to go up against a multitude of real-life opponents is sure to be extremely competitive.

Beyond fun deckbuilding gameplay and challenging opponents, the music of Battle Bands is where the game really excels. The rock and roll jams kept me entertained throughout my playtime, and I’m looking forward to hopefully hearing a full soundtrack eventually. It was hard to tell if the cards I was playing were really changing the music much, but hopefully, they will have a more noticeable effect on the music in the future.

Battle Bands is a truly interesting deckbuilder that accomplishes everything it sets out to do. There is an excellent variety, and the gameplay is both challenging and rewarding. For an Early Access game, Battle Bands already feels completely playable and enjoyable right from the start. I’m extremely excited to see what gets added in the future and can’t wait to gather some friends to put a truly legendary band together.

Battle Bands releases in Early Access on Steam on March 17th, 2022