TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Wildfrost’

It was one year ago today that developers Gaziter and Deadpan Games in conjunction with publisher Chucklefish released Wildfrost, their take on the ever-popular roguelike deckbuilder genre, on PC and Nintendo Switch. The game has garnered a wide variety of opinions since that release, with some singing its praises and others deriding its shortcomings, and still many more falling somewhere in between. Well, now it’s mobile gamers’ turn to weigh in on Wildfrost with its mobile debut this week, and I think whatever your feelings about the game ultimately end up being it’s certainly an interesting title that’s worth talking about.

Wildfrost is a card battler, and has you playing cards into a two-lane field of play. You have a “leader" card and then a variety of support units. You must protect the leader at all costs as if they end up dying that’s the end of the game. Positioning plays a huge, HUGE role in the strategy in Wildfrost, which I think is one of its most unique traits. Where you place your cards and their position in relation to enemy cards is crucial. Every card has a countdown timer that ticks down with each move made, and when it’s up that card will trigger its attack or modifier or ability or what have you. This brief video explains it all well.

These countdown and positioning mechanics mean you need to be able to plan many steps ahead in Wildfrost. In this way the game reminds me a lot of those programming-based games like Human Resource Machine or even something like Factorio as you’re sort of planning out a chain of events based on your hand and the enemies you’re encountering. This isn’t the first or only game where positioning of your cards matters, but it certainly feels on a much different level than similar games and is one of the elements that makes this stand out from other roguelike deckbuilders.

As for the shortcomings mentioned earlier? Well, this game is capital H Hard, and often in a somewhat unfair, out-of-nowhere manner. There’s also a lot of instances where it feels like the game was designed around you having a specific set of cards to utilize for a certain battle or boss fight, and if the RNG doesn’t grant you those cards then you’re SOL. These are things that are par for the course in a game inspired by Rogue, but understandably not everyone’s cup of tea.

I think part of the difficulty concerns stem from players not fully exploring the options available to them by way of card upgrading and customization as well as specific synergies between cards played. Things that might feel like an unfair difficult spike or an unfair battle might actually just be expecting you to utilize some of the functionality of your units beyond their face value. This is where I think the game really finds its legs and gives you something to really learn and explore, and then use that knowledge in a very satisfying manner.

Of course, I’m just some guy who has only been playing Wildfrost for a couple of days, so my impressions could certainly change. Right now though I think this is a very strong option for those who enjoy games like Slay the Spire and its many contemporaries. I’ll also add that this port feels like a native mobile game in terms of UI and controls, an area where other mobile ports have felt lacking. It’s also totally free to try for yourself, and you can play up through the first boss before springing for a full game unlock. That means there’s really no good reason not to try out Wildfrost and see if its particular brand of roguelike deckbuilding tickles your fancy or not.

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