- Developer: Le Studio des Ténèbres, Neerdook Productions
- Publisher: Digerati
- Release date: 26/3/2020
- Price: £21.59 / $23.99
- Review code provided by Digerati
Introducing: Card Game Bundle Switch Review
I’ve made my love of card games no secret, and I have been lucky to have pretty good luck when it comes to playing them on the Switch. So, a bundle of two of them from two different developers really caught my eye as a way to get a more diverse set of card games onto my system. Especially, considering that they take a different approach than the ones that I have played before. This bundle contains two games so we’re going to be looking at, each on on their own merits, but I will be sure to mention when things apply to both of the games included.
In the first game, Frost, it’s your job to lead a tribe of people through the wilderness, with all the challenges that come with that. Center to the experience is the struggle to balance your different resources while also making forward progress. There’s always the risk of losing one of the tribe when foraging for resources and hungry beasts prowl in the woods, watching for any sign of weakness. Resting or lingering in one place can be very dangerous. There is also the ever-looming danger of a storm approaching from behind your party, threatening to engulf you if it gets too close. It’s not the most in-depth story, but it’s plenty to keep Frost interesting and offer an engaging theme.
Meanwhile, the second game, Monster Slayers, is a tale of adventure and exploration where you take on the role of a monster hunter. You’ll delve deep into a variety of different areas to not only do your job, but also to advance your own abilities. It’s for the best that you do not get too attached to any particular slayer that you create, because the world is dangerous and there is a pretty good chance that they are not going to be around very long. You could also just take on the role of being the monster yourself to get the job done by choosing to explore as a mighty dragon.
This is one of those cases where, while these are both card games, the fact that they are card games isn’t exactly the entire purpose of them. I would be more inclined to say that these games are more card-based than anything else because at their core they are different types of games than a typical card game. Especially considering that these are both single player experiences that aren’t meant to be competitive with another person. That being said, what kind of games are they?
Frost is, at its core, a resource management game. There is a need to balance how much wood, food, and people that you have as you keep trudging forward through the tundra. Each time you come to a different area, you need to supply it with a certain amount of your three resources in order to satisfy the requirements before you are able to move on. Lingering too long allows the storm of the frost to get closer to you, while moving forward allows you to get more distance. There is also an element of deck-building that allows you to trade off some of your resources for another card that can have different abilities. This helps you get the resources that you need without having to rest and have the storm get closer. What I appreciated most was the amount of customization that the game allows. You can tailor your game length, while also having a steady stream of unlockables that expand the game the more you play.
Monster Slayers is pretty opposite in that it is a rouge-like game where the battles are conducted through the use of a card deck that has a variety of different types of cards in it. While I was alright with the basic concept and the ability to freely explore the given dungeons, I did find that every time I played, I was approaching it with the same strategy, even though I was using different classes. The difference between them are little more than a few unique cards per class. The way that you approach the game ends up being just about the same every time since there are a lot of shared cards that you are more likely to rely on. This lead to a lot of the game feeling a bit samey and repetitive, even if I was unlocking new perks with each run.
Of the two, I felt that Frost had the more unique style and flair to it. It is just a little bit rough around the edges, but in a good way. That makes it look like Frost’s maps were hurriedly scrawled while on the move and left for others to find. You’re going to be seeing a lot of the same images, but being able to tell everything apart at a glance is really great. The music isn’t anything spectacular, but it sets the tone when you first start, and the sound effects carry the rest of your run. The inclusion of a dark mode on a game as white as this was greatly appreciated too. The look of darkness licked by fire was really comfortable to play in the dark in my bed at night.
The look of Monster Slayers appealed to me less, but that was more because there isn’t as distinctive a style as in Frost. The characters are simple and easy to tell apart, but having them lift off and hover in the air to indicate whose turn it is never failed to just look silly to me. The screen also could just feel really cluttered at times thanks to how much UI is shoved around the edge of the battles. I think this is a case where having a button to bring up some menus or information rather than having it out all the time could have really cleaned up the presentation and allowed a better view of the characters.
A Shared Problem
If there is one problem that these games share, it is that the combo pack is not very good at porting or combining them. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why they were combined like this. Both games are individually available on the Switch for a fairly reasonable price and the only thing binding them together is a screen when you start up that allows you to choose which to play. I can’t help but feel like this is something of a rush job when nothing has been changed about the games. For instance, I cannot go back to the menu to select the other game, I must close the entire program and open it again in order to change which game I am playing.
Monster Slayers in particular isn’t really well suited for the Switch. I had a lot of problems with selecting exactly what I wanted to be selected in some of the screens. When I press left, I expect that my selection will be the map bubble that’s to the left, not that my selection will be the menu at the bottom of the screen where I have to move left and then up again to get my map selection that I wanted in the first place. It’s never good when what should be done with one button press takes four instead. It’s where I can see the PC roots of the game showing. It’s not unplayable or anything, but it’s not the smoothest port in the world either.
Two for One or Just One?
Overall, unless you are interested in playing both of these games, I think you’re better off just picking up the one that interests you more individually. The price difference between buying them both and the pack is really not a huge discount either, so you can always pick them up at different times if you’re not completely sold on both of them right away. I will say that I enjoyed Frost a lot more and see that as the one that I will be playing more in the future, but depending on your tastes it could be entirely opposite for you.
- Frost’s unique look
- Card systems are integrated different, surprising game types
- Both games are different enough to stand on their own
- The combination feels like a bit of a hack job
- Monster Slayers has some interface issues
- You might find one game weaker than the other
Both games have their own strengths, but unless both interest you, you’re better off looking at picking them up individually.