You can’t tell right off the bat that the world in Wildfrost is in great danger. Eternal winter has set in on his lands, a handful of warriors are trying in vain to reach the temple of the Sun, and their comrades are frozen in the ice and well guarded by groups of dangerous enemies. At the same time, everything looks like an Adventure Time cartoon or a Grindstone game – here the same charming comic style with “cute” characters. But as soon as you go on your first outing, you realize that appearances are very deceptive.
First of all, we choose one of the three leaders – he will become the main character of the race. We are transferred to the battlefield, we see several cards at the bottom of the screen, and two stripes at the top, where allies are located on the left side, and opponents appear on the right waves. On paper, Wildfrost seems like a standard card game, but in reality it’s more of a tactical action game. Both the player’s heroes and opponents have a lot of all sorts of characteristics and passive abilities, because of which at times you think over actions several moves ahead, like in Into the Breach.
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The most interesting element of the local battles is the timers for each character. While the player can take actions on each turn by drawing cards from their hand and applying them to enemies or allies, the characters act solely according to the timers. If the number 5 is at the bottom of the card, then the creature will only attack on its fifth turn. But his passive abilities will work constantly. For example, one of the opponents increases the attack power every time one of his allies poisons someone – his attack will constantly increase, but he will hit infrequently.
Cards in hand allow you to prepare for the attack of one creature on another, as well as influence the order in which the participants in the battle will attack. If both your unit and the enemy unit have one on the timer, then on the next turn, the enemy will always attack first. Use a freeze card – it will slow down the enemy for one, two, or even eight moves. Or pre-calculate which of your creatures will be able to attack before the rest, and try to quickly eliminate the most dangerous target.
The starting set of cards, plus or minus, is the same for leaders belonging to the same faction (we will talk about them later) – there are both attacking cards and auxiliary ones. You can have three sword cards in hand that allow you to quickly deal two points of damage, a freeze card for two turns, and a card that increases the attack power of the selected creature. You have to choose which of these to use and on whom before the enemies start attacking you. Spend two sword cards in two turns to kill a creature with four health points, or buff your leader, which may come in handy in the future? The more you open new creatures and cards, the more such decisions you make on each turn. Especially when you consider that new types of enemies with their “passives” appear constantly.
Another interesting feature is the two lines on the battlefield. Enemies always attack those creatures that are located in their line, but they will certainly reach the rest if there is no one in front of their eyes. You can move your fighters if they are already on the field without any restrictions. The leader is near death – move him back and put someone stronger in front of him to absorb the damage. You need to “buff” several characters – place them one after the other. Some opponents attack not just one target, but everyone who is on the same line – in this case, you should place the heroes at different levels.
Here and now in Wildfrost
Therefore, Wildfrost is closer to tactical games than to card roguelikes – here you can’t build an ideal deck and just play strong cards, you need to think through every move. Arrange protective structures like training dummies – they are flimsy and quickly fall apart, but they will allow you to defend yourself from a blow. Place “debuffs” on targets that will soon be attacked and present a danger. Move allies – both to focus on the target and to save wounded comrades. Companions that almost died can be moved back to the deck – they will heal and appear with new powers in the hand when you refresh the cards in it.
Companions collect on the map, on which you move from one battle to another. There are classic forks here – you choose which path is preferable: with caves that bestow gold, with chests in which cards are hidden, with ice cubes where potential companions are imprisoned, and so on. You don’t have to take anyone – they always give you a choice. One ally, after the timer expires, heals all comrades a little, the other, when receiving damage, gives armor to the partner standing behind. Someone has a lot of health and little strength, and someone is frail, but imposes destructive “debuffs” – the choice is quite large. Leaders, by the way, also differ – there are those who do not attack at all, but only counterattack when receiving damage.
As you pass and complete simple tests, new factions become available, and with it, new leaders. There are only three fractions. Home – Snowdwellers, jacks of all trades. They are trained in freezing, and are capable of poisoning opponents, and they can accumulate rage in order to make the next blow more powerful than the previous one. After them, Shademancers open, lovers of dark magic, summoning spirits and ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of victory.
But most of all I liked the Clunkmasters gnomes. Firstly, their attack cards improve with each use – if the card first deals two damage, and then goes to the deck, then the next time it hits the hand, it will be able to take three “life” from the enemy, and this will repeat endlessly. Secondly, among their cards there is “trash” (Junk), which is absolutely useless until some companions appear in your team. One increases the attack of such cards if he himself is on the field, and the other becomes stronger if this trash is fed to him. And not just stronger – in one move, he will be able to attack several times. At some point, this character dealt me six blows in a row – few people could withstand such a series.
Not everyone will survive in Wildfrost
You can talk about all the possible situations in Wildfrost for a long time. Although in case of failure, the next race starts from the very beginning, there is still some kind of progress system here. The choice of starting companion pet is getting wider, previously unseen items are unlocked in the workshop, and races are different from each other, including thanks to amulets that you either find along the way or open in the store. There are about fifty of them in total: they increase the attack and allow you to take cards from the deck in case of killing the enemy – there are a lot of passive bonuses, and almost all of them turn out to be useful.
I would rate the game “Amazing” and end this review, but there is one caveat – the difficulty is too high. Based on the “mixed” reviews on Steam, this isn’t just my problem. Leaders and companions do not have too much health, and it is usually difficult to increase its supply – if an opportunity appears in the middle of a battle, then you spend a turn on it, that is, you give your opponent the opportunity to attack you and take away the added “life”. So some races end pretty quickly – sometimes you don’t even have time to reach the second region.
The main difficulty is related to the bosses that appear at the end of each battle. They’re tough on their own, and they summon minions to boot, so it’s sometimes hard to decide who to attack first. Yes, and some ordinary enemies can cause problems.
In the first region in Wildfrost, for example, there is a monster that initially has as many as seven attack points – more than some leaders. Each time he takes damage, this figure decreases, so it seems to be logical to focus on him – if not to finish him off right away, then at least weaken him. However, in this case, you have to ignore the rest of the creatures, which in total can deal about the same amount of damage. Such moments are enough to sometimes make the player feel powerless. I would like to compare the game with the recent Inkulinati, where there are also obvious problems with the balance, but in Wildfrost the situation is a little easier to control, since there is not so much randomness. However, some tasks still seem impossible.
Luckily, the developers have not argued with the community and are already preparing balance changes – they want to “flatten the difficulty curve”, whatever that means. At the same time, there are moments in Wildfrost when her hardcoreness seems to be a plus. It happens that you calculate all the moves in advance, scatter the cards perfectly, place your units in the right places and everything goes like clockwork. At such moments, you love the game, as if you really completed a difficult game in Into the Breach without losses and in a minimum number of moves. But already in the next fight, you simply don’t have time to do anything and start the adventure all over again, not understanding whether you could have performed better.
For lovers of card and tactical games, Wildfrost will be a great entertainment that absorbs free time. Fast gameplay, nice graphics, enough variety – everything you expect from such a release is here. Only furious complexity upsets – either it allows you to feel like a genius of tactics, or it forces you to look with sadness at the units dying one after another, which cannot be saved. When the project is made a little more accessible (and at the same time content is added), it will become much easier to recommend it to fans of such games.
Pros: nice graphics; clear interface; races differ from each other thanks to a variety of leaders, amulets, companions and other gameplay elements; the progress system allows you to open up new opportunities even after failed races.
Cons: High difficulty sometimes feels sadistic and unbalanced (but it is planned to be fixed).
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WildFrost release date – Apr 12, 2023.
Игра разработана R2 Games, китайским разработчиком и издателем видеоигр. R2 Games известна разработкой и публикацией множества популярных игр, включая Crystal Saga, Wartune и League of Angels.