Platform(s): Android, iOS
Price: Free, with limited features. $2.99 for full game unlock.
Discovery: Name drop from a YouTuber
Playtime: Approx. 5 hours
Disclaimer: As this is a Progress Review, I have not fully played the game. This review is based on my impressions given the amount of time I have spent so far. Some things mentioned may be resolved/improved on had I finished the game and received a more complete experience.
Card Crawl is a fantasy-themed “solitaire-style” mobile game. Although the game is free, only normal games and unlocking new ability cards are available while the rest of the features are locked and require purchase of the full game.
The layout is arranged where both sides, the player and the opponent NPC, both have a single row of four cards. The center position represents the player, alongside the left hand, right hand, and backpack respectively.
Cards can be broken down into the following categories:
- weapons – will attack enemies based on value
- shields – will negate the amount of damage dealt up to its value
- potions – will heal the player based on the amount
- coins – are collected to unlock new ability cards for future games
- Special abilities – have a variety of uses that may or may not be helpful to the player
- Monsters – will attempt to attack the player; game is over if player health equals zero
While items that are placed in either hands can be used right away. Placing items in the backpack saves it for future use, with the exception of coins which are immediately redeemed. The goal of each session is to go through the opponents dungeon deck and surviving, while maximizing the amount of coins earned.
+ Art Style. A good indication is when the art piece can almost tell a story simply as is. Its style and detail definitely draws you into the game, and makes you curious. Why is it a bar full of creatures? What adventures have its patrons faced? What’s with the card-eating box? Another bonus is in the animations, like the little dust cloud for when the menu drops down.
+ Easy to pick up with short sessions. Each round can easily be finished in less than five minutes. If you’re looking for a quick game to pass the time, but don’t necessary want to check up on villages or the like, Card Crawl is right up your alley.
+ Abilities are varied enough to keep gameplay fresh. Even though you will be playing the same mode many times over, the large amount of abilities change up each round and lets you play out a variety of strategies and scenarios.
+ Game undergoes plenty of updates and balancing. It’s great to know that the developers are listening to the community. Since starting this review some of the abilities have undergone changes, some drastic but reasonable. This game definitely is on its way to becoming more polished so long as the developers keep it up.
– Lack of music/sound. There’s a lot of sound effects and ambient noise, but the game definitely needs better background music. The current BGM that plays as you play a round is okay but does not do enough, in my opinion, to build proper atmosphere.
– Features take too long to unlock. I’m really not sure how many times over I am meant to play normal mode, but at the moment I have only unlocked a little over half of all the abilities. The moment I can enjoy unlocking a new ability and using it does not justify the amount of time I have to spend to get enough coins for the next one. Or maybe it’s my impatience/inability to earn enough coins per round?
– Collection UI could be improved. The collection menu is where you can unlock and view all of your abilities. If I want to view a particular ability I have yet to unlock, I will have to constantly scroll down to find it, and then back up to where the next ability I need to unlock is.
– Lots o’ loading. If you are prepared to play this game for a while in one session, be prepared to see a lot of loading screens, and they do add up. I can only hope it’s possible to decrease the loading time or find a way to circumvent them altogether. At the very least, as a design choice, I wouldn’t draw so much attention to the loading as to dedicate an entire single color screen to it.
• Music, please. If possible, I would have a strong title song to draw people in, then switch to more ambient music with actual gameplay. The current BGM is a bit too passive.
• Make it easier to view abilities in Collection. I would add in filters/categories and as a personal preference, think it would be better to make the screen scroll horizontally rather than vertically.
• There are times where I forget what an ability does, and need to view it mid-game. It gives you an option to hold down on the card to view its description but takes forever to come up. There’s really no reason for it to be that long, especially since I just need a quick reminder.
• Expand on the quest system. I’ve yet to unlock a new opponent or new avatar card because their requirements seem to be achievable only further in the game. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Either way, there could definitely be quests that can be achievable earlier which would bridge the gap between all the time I’m waiting for the next ability to unlock.
Card Crawl is definitely a solid title. At this point in the game, though, I’m starting to see my interest wane and I feel like it’s because of the lack of rewarding progression or challenge. I’ve pretty much got normal mode down and I’m currently on a 28 win-streak. I can only hope the new features I’ll unlock later will be worth it. Because the game is initially free, there is no harm in downloading it just to try it. But is it worth the full investment? Up for you to decide.
- Gameplay – 6/10 The gameplay is unique enough in that Card Crawl isn’t just another card clone that happens to have a fantasy theme. However, it is simplicity borders on the line of repetitiveness – which was supposed to have been addressed by the progression system and different modes, but was not.
- Story/Concept – NA/10 There pretty much isn’t any. You are in a tavern full of creatures, and you are there to play cards. Could the game benefit from having an actual story? …Maybe, but not enough to be counted against.
- Graphics/Art – 7/10 Definitely a major highlight of the game. But was the art enough to tell a story in place of, well, the game’s lack of an actual story? No.
- Audio/Sound/BGM – 4/10 Sound effects are okay, though the game can definitely benefit from better music. You’d be surprised just how much BGM can play in creating mood and atmosphere.
- Bang-for-your-buck – 6/10 Those determined enough (or aren’t looking for much) could probably get away with playing just the limited free version. For me, the features that you unlocked did not so much justify the price tag. A more fitting price would have been 0.99 or maybe 1.99.
FINAL SCORE: 5.75/10
Will I keep playing? Maybe. Like very casually when I’m in line and have a few minutes to spare.