Card Crawl

card crawl one hand used
Players:
1
Multiplayer:N/A
AI:N/A
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Card Crawl
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Card Crawl, 8.5 out of 10 based on 10 ratings

While a number of roguelikes styled to look like they’re made from paper are getting buzz lately, Card Crawl takes a different approach, abstracting a dungeon crawl into a solitaire game played with a modified deck of standard poker cards. Ready to delve?

Gameplay

CC is set in the place where all good dungeon crawls begin: a fantasy tavern.

card crawl gameplay 1

Your warrior begins the game with 13 hitpoints, two empty (albeit gauntlet-bearing) hands, and a backpack. So equipped, your goal is to fight your way through a random 54 card dungeon.

card crawl one hand used

Some cards from each of the four suits stand in for fantasy equipment. Spades are swords, which can damage monsters; clubs are shields, which reduce the damage they deal to you; hearts are potions of healing; and diamonds represent loot. If you manage to clear the dungeon deck, the diamonds you’ve acquired throughout your adventure serve as your score. The other cards are the monsters you must face, with 5 cards each game representing special abilities.

card crawl hands full

Equipment, once acquired, cannot be dropped; it remains equipped until used. Swords do their damage to a target creature by being dragged from your fist to the target; shields absorb the strength of any monster dragged to them, with excess (if any) going to you. An open hand is necessary to utilize a potion; wealth can be placed either in your hands or your pack, but will remain in their slot until you’ve cleared 3 cards form the tableau. A “shop” box appears in the upper right, where you can sell unused equipment or potions, or simply donate any gold you can’t gather – a situation you’ll frequently find yourself in if you’re loaded for bear and no monsters come up.

card crawl mulligan

It’s also possible you’ll be faced with a situation you simply can’t survive. If that happens, you can mulligan before any cards are played, shuffling those four cards back into the deck and dealing 4 new ones. This will cost a certain amount of life, and the amount it costs increases per usage of this ability. The random nature of the cards and the high cost to mulligan combine to create a game that is rich in tactics, but less so in overarching strategy.

card crawl died

The game ends either when you complete all 54 cards of the dungeon, or when you take more damage than you have hit points. In either case your final diamond score is recorded for posterity, but you only accrue wealth against card unlocks if you emerge triumphant.

Implementation

Even though the game is essentially random and no real progression is offered, the app does have a few tricks up its sleeve.

card crawl unlock

You start with 5 of 20 special ability cards unlocked – you’ll be able to unlock more via victory or purchase with accumulated diamongs. The game’s standard mode prepopulates each adventure deck with 5 random cards from your unlock collection, giving you a different selection of abilities each time you play.

card crawl constructed

The game also offers a “constructed” mode, which allows you to specify which 5 cards to preload. The utility belt interface (Batman would be proud) remembers which 5 cards you selected between plays. If you want to change it up, you’ll need to remove a card before adding a new one.

card crawl tutorial

The game also features a fully interactive tutorial. This does a very good job of presenting the rules in a quick and precise manner. This is fortunate, since the complete lack of any sort of multiplayer means the “AI” is your only option – and since the game is random, it isn’t an AI so much as it is the fickle finger of fate.

IMG_1564

Well, there are leaderboards, but the scores seem a little…um…off.

Verdict

The nature of a game designed for solitaire play is necessarily different than one designed to accommodate more. To that extent, CC captures the roguelike computer games that are likely its inspiration quite well. The app is elegant and well-presented, with intuitive controls and a consistent interface. We have found the touch zones to drop cards can be a little fiddly, but nothing that can’t be overcome with patience. It’s a quick game that is well-suited to mobile, and we can imagine this one living happily in the “bathroom break” folder on many devices. The random nature works against it long term, however; since there’s no real progression in the game beyond unlocking cards, it’s easy to see everything the app has to offer after a few plays. It’s still well-presented for what it is, and it’s quick nature combined with its random setup engender a decent “just one more try” factor. At least until you’ve seen all it has to offer. This is a fun, light play, but we can’t see it holding long term appeal.



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