- Developer: Abrakam Entertainment
- Publisher: Versus Evil
- Release date: 13/8/2020
- Price: £17.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by Versus Evil
Introducing: Faeria Switch Review
I spent a decent chunk of my college days playing Hearthstone since it was one of those games that was easy to fit in between classes and it wasn’t very taxing on my cheap laptop. I eventually fell away from the game as my schoolwork got more intense and I started taking my DS with me to campus instead (not to mention my full breakup with the game a few years later after the Blitzchung controversy and Blizzard’s response to it, though I was rarely playing anymore at that point). However, my time with the game was what introduced me to online card games in that vein and gave me a fondness for them. So, with Faeria coming to the Switch, I was curious to get my hands on this one so I could see how it stands out from the pack.
Time to Shuffle
Faeria has lore – a good amount of it, in fact. But, you’re not going to be able to just sit down and read all of it. Lore is something that is dealt out bit by bit to you as you play and discover new cards. Some of it comes from beating a certain single-player enemy, and other lore can be found by completing certain quests. I haven’t unlocked all the lore myself, but I must admit that what I have seen hasn’t entirely sparked my interest all that much. I think this is just a flaw of the genre in general, though. I don’t really play card games for any sort of a deep lore, and most don’t typically have it. Those that do are often based around some sort of an existing property or recognize the fact that their lore is just kind of incidental.
While having this sort of information be an unlockable aspect of the game was interesting in concept, I think it loses a lot of punch because I wasn’t drawn into it from the outset. I was never given much of a reason to care or to become attached to this element of the game, because the information was all locked away. Then again, it is a card game. Story isn’t the focus here at all. The goal is to have fun gameplay an over engaging story, and I do at least appreciate the effort that was put in here. It’s better than not having anything story-wise, after all.
Faeria is a card game, although your cards won’t look like cards once they are played. Instead of having the standard sort of placement slots where you lay out cards in front of you as you play, you instead are playing on a hexagonal grid with your character on one side and your opponent on another. In order to reach your opponent an attack them, you’re going to have to build a path on the grid spaces, rising the land out of the sea. There are also wells that can be harvested from in order to gain the currency to play more cards in each of your turns. Not only are you managing the deck you brought in but the land itself, and thus the playing area. Cards need to be played onto land, though a select few are able to fly over the sea, granting more freedom to move around.
Each turn allows you to both play cards and take an action from the action wheel in the corner. When you take your action there is a satisfying variety of things that you can do. Early in the game, you will likely want to do things such as create two prairie spaces or a single space of one of the special terrains (which will affect what types of creatures you are able to play and where). Though, I was very pleased to see there are options for the late game, such as allowing you to draw a card or to gain a single point of the card summoning currency, which could be the last one to push you to victory in a tight situation.
Raising the Land
I was really happy to see that this was a card game that had a lot of single player content available, and only had two issues for me. Firstly, that the game requires an online connection. Second, it was frustrating that I had to take a lot of time to unlock all the single player content.
I would have thought that it would open up after the basic tutorial got you on your feet, but even after that I was having to advance to a certain level before some of the modes unlocked. I understood why it might be for the best to hold off on the draft mode (called Pandora here) until you are sure that your players have an understanding of the game. However, I did think it was a bit silly to hold off on the puzzle mode (where you must use limited resources to win in a certain number of moves) as that is able to actively teach players the mechanics and promote understanding of the game. This is especially true when I found a lot of the AI opponents in the missions to be quite easy to beat.
There is also the option to play against other players online with your constructed decks, obviously. Although, I was happy to see that there is the option to choose if you will play against another player or against AI in the draft mode. I think this is a great option to have, especially since taking the chance against another real player has a greater output of rewards. However, I did find it strange that the first time that I played the standard online matches, I was matched against a player that appeared to be playing in casual mode, despite how I was playing in the ranked mode. With both modes having different goals it felt strange to me to pit them against one another. I’m not sure if this is something that is regular or just an occasional quirk of the matchmaking as I never saw it again, or at least never noticed it.
The Big Question
With any game of this sort, there is always one question that pops to mind. Are there microtransactions?
Yes and no. While there is no way for your to buy packs of cards like in the average game, all of the expansions to the game are paid DLC. Once you buy that DLC, you are able to craft any of the cards in it, though it will also make them available in the reward boxes that can be collected through quests. I am of two minds about this. While yes, there aren’t any of the predatory gambling practices that you get by buying packs. But, it is indisputable that those who buy the expansions are at an advantage over the players who do not. Not only is their card pool bigger, the issue of power-scaling the more a game goes on means that the cards introduced later are likely to be more powerful and those are behind the paywall. Additionally, there is no way to buy these with the in-game currency, which is primarily used for draft mode. So, the only option is cold hard cash in a game that you already had to pay for.
I will say that this is a lot less predatory than we typically see from games of this ilk, and I applaud the developer for that. You also are able to just get a taste of the cards in the expansions. When a card you play generates a random card, there is a chance that it will be from the expansions, and all the cards from everything are available in the draft mode, though for some players, this might just be a further temptation than them being locked up and away.
Beauty to Behold
As expected of fantasy card games of this sort, the art of the cards is absolutely beautiful, and the boards have the same sort of care put into them. They’re not in any way distracting, but they’re nice to look at while you are waiting for your opponent to finish their turn. The one thing about the presentation that I was a little thrown by, though, was the fact that some of your cards have audio cues or voice lines when you play them, but others completely lack this. It actually seems to be the majority that don’t and the fact that not all of them do makes Faeria feel a little incomplete. Consistency is all that I am looking for here.
This is also one of those games that I am certain controls much better with a mouse than it does with joysticks. The controls aren’t bad or anything, but it’s just one of those games where I was pressing buttons a lot in order to navigate to the particular piece of land that I wanted to interact with. I was glad to see that it is possible to play the game entirely with touchscreen controls, which helped a lot. In fact, I played the game almost entirely touchscreen after my first session on the tv, as it was the easiest way to lay in bed and play.
Deal Them Out
I will admit that I have not seen every single player mission that Faeria has to offer. There’s so much here that I’m content to just chip away at it a game or two at a time for quite a while. That means that it might take up space on my Switch, but I likely won’t be playing it much on the go due to the need to be online while doing so. However, I did have fun in my time with Faeria, just not enough to count it among my favorites due to everything surrounding the gameplay.
- Beautiful card art
- Element of strategy mixed with card game
- Tons of single-player content
- Needs to have an online connection, even for single player
- Is not strongly suited for being on the TV
- Players willing to pay for the expansions are at an advantage
While fun, the need to be always online, even for single-player, keeps this from being an ideal card game highlight on the Switch.