Must Play Games: Solitairica (iOS)
I'm a terrible consumer for these mobile gaming days. Maybe it's because I'm too old for this shit, but if a game doesn't hook me in the first hour, I delete it. And I HATE F2P models. I mean, they are sometimes generous and done right, but often I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
What usually happens looks like this. I download the game, fire it up, play it for some time and request a refund, because it's a boring clickfest, or the production values are low, maybe it's the pixel art (that is COMPLETELY EVERYWHERE, if I wanted to play Prehistoric, I would have done that by now) or maybe the game's just not fun.
And that, by definition, is not a game for me. Game = fun. No fun = no cash for ya.
Imagine my happiness then when I read about this new game that has been inspired by the glorious Dungeon Raid - which I've wasted countless hours with - and...wait for it...solitaire.
Soli - fucking - taire with RPG and roguelike elements, inspired by Dungeon Raid! What could go wrong?
These thoughts often meet with disappointment, but not in case of Solitairica. I'm happy to say that since downloading it 6 days ago there have been numerous counts of one of my legs dying while playing on the toilet and countless hours spent playing that should've been spent sleeping.
So, what's it about?
As stated before - Solitairica is mostly a roguelite (start playing, fail, get stronger, fail again, get stronger again, fail again, get stronger again, win, try another class) that has its mechanics based on solitaire.
At the beginning you pick a warrior deck (other classes are unlockable by spending the game premium currency called wildstones - NO IAP anywhere - where you can choose from Wizard, Rogue, Monk, Bard) and venture out in the wilds, hoping to defeat the Emperor of Stuck.
To get to him you have to defeat a string of 18 increasingly difficult enemies and only then can you face the Big Bad Empie himself.
Fighting is basically playing solitaire. You draw a card from your deck and try to match it with possible options laying right in front of you. Your turn ends when you get stuck (hence, the Emperor of Stuck) and thus begins the turn of your enemy. The enemy will always do 1 action based on a card he draws from his deck - he can attack you, charge an attack, manipulate the board by poisoning the cards, armoring them or growing beards on them (really).
Your goal is to clear the board by matching cards and manipulating the board by using spells, which are powered by 4 different energies - Attack, Defense, Agility and Willpower.
Each card you draw nets you 1 of energy based on its color. Each individual deck is built from a duo of energies, so for example a warrior uses Attack & Defense while a rogue uses Attack & Agility.
If you manage to clear the board until your Life points hit zero, you win and you receive coins (a basic bounty + any collected coin cards + bonus for hitting streaks of 8+ matched cards in a row) which you can the use in a shop to buy new spells and items.
You will die and you will die a lot. Failing is an integral part of the game and it makes you stronger. When you fail In Overwatch, you (hopefully) learn from your mistakes and in Solitairica you get the game's premium currency, the wildstones. The farther you manage to come, the more you get.
You can spend these wildstones on upgrading your deck - your Kings will now destroy a card when drawn or your Queens will give you +4 energy instead of 1. Each deck has different upgrades to purchase and thus is a completely different beast to play.
Why should I buy it?
Production values are top-notch. Animations, user interface, attention to small details - everything is present and it's present in the best possible way. The button presses are smooth, the game autosaves before each of your moves (so if you get a call or the game crashes you never lose your progress) and the graphics are really slick.
Gameplay is super-fun and addictive. Solitairica is one of the most addictive games I've ever played and it's one of the reasons why my GF is so angry at me for blocking the bathroom in the mornings, I JUST HAVE TO PLAY ONE MORE BATTLE UNTIL I GET YOU, FEYGULL MONSTER. It encourages finding different strategies with the variety of different spells and items to buy + each deck has its own class exclusive ones so there is a big incentive to play again and again and again.
Replayability potential is gigantic. I've been playing this for almost a week now every day and managed to beat the game only once with a fully upgraded Wizard deck. Every enemy has a random set of abilities in addition to its basic ones, so each run is never really the same.
It's hillarious. I guess this is the only game where you can encounter a spiky "Hug Bug" who is overly affectionate and just wants to hug you until you die or a "seal that clubs back". Quips that the Emperor throws at you when you progress are pretty funny too, in lines of "Oh yeah, you made it here, well, we could use some more fertilizer anyways" and I chuckled to myself a nice number of times.
The price is a no-brainer. You'd pay 11,99€ on Steam, while on iOS it's currently for 3,99€. That's a LOT of difference, doubly when I'm pretty sure that the mobile version is much more suited to the platform than the PC one. It's just perfect to play anywhere while commuting with just 1 hand.
Heads up: the links are affiliated - which means that if you buy the game or a book I recommend, I get a cut. Think of it as buying me a beer for a good tip! :)