One has to question why with 800+ games I have not yet played, I decided to buy a game based around Solitaire, and then played it for 20+ hours straight. What can I say? It was in the Summer Sale.Either I have some serious problems or this is a pretty decent card game. Actually, I guess it could be both!
If you’re into this genre, you’ve probably played a ton of near identical games. I don’t usually play many card games at the PC as there are a million more distractions there, but this one intrigued me enough to pull it out of the pack. The core gameplay is basic spider – you get a deck of cards, you get a board, and you clear the board by matching the cards +1 up or down in as long a sequence as you can muster. There is an added RPG/Strategy element which makes the game a lot more unique than the other card games I’ve played lately. Each card has a bonus magic associated with it (four magics + gold cards), and that magic can be used to cast spells. You can take five spells into a game with you, and additionally equip four bonus items. Instead of simply playing to clear the board; you’re playing to clear the board before dying. You have health, and each game pits you not only against a board but against an enemy. The enemy draws damage/ability/special effect cards each turn and plays them against you, and you need to adjust to play around that. A lot of the abilities are interesting and unique, and do actually make you play differently, whilst others are just a standard “hit you for x health” deal. Strong abilities have a cooldown timer, so you know to prepare.
It’s described as a “roguelite”, which these days basically means “some sort of progression that unlocks even if you lose hey please buy our game we’ve added a buzz word”, and I guess I can’t deny that it has a roguelike element, although in rogue terms it’s extremely shallow. As you play you unlock coins and gems, which allow you to customize spells, items, upgrade and purchase new decks. You get a run of 18 boards (fights) to get to the boss, each with a different mob type with some random elements thrown in. If you die, you lose the run, and you can upgrade your decks and then start at fight 1 again. So to win, you need to successfully complete all 18 fights in sequence – and then you can do that with each of the five classes (decks). On the whole, I’m a bit fed up of every game having the term rogue attached to it, but the unlockable system does give some motivation to keep going even whilst losing, or to repeat levels and adds a secondary layer of progression to unlock the different decks.
The game starts off incredibly easy and quickly gets pretty difficult. It is very RNG – it has not only the RNG of the board to begin with (you can be on fight 17 and flip over 10 cards you can’t use and you are guaranteed to die, but that is solitaire for you), but it also has the RNG of the bosses and the RNG of the spells they use and the RNG of the spells/items available in the shop, and hey, in case RNG for breakfast, lunch and dinner wasn’t enough – it’s even RNG how many gems seem to pop up on a level. If easily frustrated by RNG then this may bother you. For me, it’s fine, honestly, it’s a card game, it’s going to have incredible amounts of RNG. I am an expert at dying in every type of game, so why not add card games in there too!
I sink a lot of spare hours into Fairway Solitaire, which is probably the pinnacle of mobile card-gaming when it comes to popularity and users. Does this game compare with the big league? Actually – it really does. It’s fun to play! It has more depth and more strategy, and has a real sense of progression and customization as you play. On the downside, it’s not as polished, the animations are a bit slow and clunky, which someone who likes fast-paced play (spoilers – me!) may find a little frustrating. Some of the time I feel I could have completed the level in the time it takes the animations to turn over two cards. Do you know what you don’t want in a card game? Blank time sitting staring at the screen waiting for a card to flip over. This has been slightly addressed with a “Fast Animation” tick box in the options; so obviously a known bone of contention, but even with fast play on it plays considerably slower than the iPad card games I’m so used to.
It can get grindy and repetitive – but that shouldn’t be a big problem for people who enjoy solitaire style games, as the card decks are randomized so no two games are identical and if you like this genre it won’t get boring. It’s a game that would work perfectly on mobile and honestly feels like that’s the intention, but it would not fetch this price there, so whether you feel like this is worth a purchase on the PC is up to you. Content wise, with 20 hours in it, I could easily see it taking me another 20 hours just to complete the campaign on all the decks, but once that is done and I have all the achievements, I don’t think I would keep playing it on the PC. If I was on mobile, I could easily see myself picking this up when I had 15 minutes of downtime to kill.
On the whole this is a card game in a world where there are thousands upon thousands of card games, that has managed to give itself an edge to appeal to a gamer looking for both traditional cardplay as well as interesting and unique gameplay elements.
It’s not perfect, it’s not going to replace my #1 card game, but it definitely kept me engaged and playing, so a strong recommendation from me.