For the right player, Shadow Era is a really impressive game. I say "for the right player," because it's not exactly newbie friendly -- this is a full-fledged collectible card game, implemented right there on the iPhone and the iPad. For some players, that's probably music to your ears -- if you're a big fan of Magic: The Gathering, you'll feel right at home here as you summon allies, cast spells and build resources to take down opponents and build up your decks. But if you've never touched a competitive card game, you'll probably be lost right out of the gate. While Shadow Era does offer a few tips in a short tutorial, it's really meant for players who pretty much know what they're doing already.
That said, it's awfully impressive. It combines great-looking cards in a very touch-friendly interface. Especially on the iPad, I could lose quite a few hours in this, battling away and reading out all of the cards, their special features, and checking out the great, well-designed art. The controls are easy-to-learn and surprisingly intuitive, and once you figure out the game's rhythm, it's fast and simple to navigate.
The game comes with a deck to play with, of course, and you can buy more via in-app purchase -- they're not super cheap, but compared to other collectible card games, the prices are more than competitive. Plus, the game offers nice touches like Retina Display support and Game Center integration as well. For a free app, Shadow Era is a must-download for fans of CCGs, and even players who want to get started with the genre can head over to the website to both play online and read through the rules.