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Wildfrost Review

Wildfrost
Image: Chucklefish

If you’re a fan of roguelike deckbuilding games, get ready to kiss goodbye to your free time.

Wildfrost has come into our lives like an icy little whirlwind and, quite frankly, it has taken us by storm. We’re big fans of games like Slay the Spire and Roguebook, so we’re always excited to try out a new roguelike card battler. More often than not they miss the mark, though. Very few capture the fast-paced but satisfying nature that the genre demands. But Wildfrost? It absolutely nails it.

In Wildfrost, cards are laid out in a grid. To the right of the screen are up to six enemy cards that you need to defeat. And to the left are six spaces for you to lay your own cards. First down is always your leader, who needs to be protected at all costs. You’ll have various companions who can fight alongside you, and in your hand will be various action cards that can be instantly played or placed on the grid.

Not every card on the grid will attack each turn, though. Most have a unique cooldown period, attacking once every 3 to 5 turns. When it comes to the enemy team, that means paying close attention to whose attacks are coming up. Can you handle them? Can you play a card to delay their attack if you can’t? Wildfrost is a game about strategy, but there’s also a lot of luck involved. The cards in your hand at any one time are randomised, and so you might not have any way to block or otherwise deal with an incoming attack – but that’s the nature of this type of game.

Related: The Best Games Like Slay the Spire

Between battles, you’ll have opportunities to open treasure chests containing new cards, find new companions, get trinkets to enhance (or hinder) cards, and buy new cards from a store. You’ll earn money for each battle you complete, and so in every run you’ll typically be able to afford something. It’s wise to keep your hand filled with the best cards you can because despite its wonderfully cute appearance, Wildfrost is a tricky beast.

Wildfrost

It took us about a dozen attempts before we beat even the first boss of Wildfrost. Your success depends wholly on the cards in your hand in any one run. Have good companions, and you can breeze through it. But all it takes is to come up against one particularly tough enemy and you can find your leader getting wiped out in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter if you’ve still got companions on the board; if your leader dies, it’s game over. That goes for the enemy side too: once the boss or lead enemy has appeared, killing them will win the match, even if smaller enemies remain.

Like you’d expect, cards in Wildfrost don’t just have an attack. They come with various modifiers and effects, too. Maybe a card might also freeze its target for a turn or two, leaving them unable to attack. Others might apply poison, affect the entire row, or retaliate whenever they’re attacked. That means most cards will have several different numbers and pieces of information on: their health count, their damage rating, how often they attack, and a description of any special abilities they have. It takes a little while to learn what everything does, but once you wrap your head around it, Wildfrost feels more accessible than most other card-based battlers.

Whether you die very quickly or manage to survive multiple bosses, no run in Wildfrost is in vain. You’ll earn experience in various areas which all count towards unlocking new items and facilities in your village – the area you start in before every run. As you play, you’ll unlock new cards, companions and charms which will start to appear in future runs – and, perhaps more importantly, you’ll also gain access to new tribes.

Before starting each new run, you’ll be given the choice of three random leaders. To begin with, you’ll only have one tribe available, but as you progress and defeat bosses in Wildfrost, new tribes will become available. The tribe a leader belongs to will determine their attack types and the types of cards available in their decks – a little like each character in Slay the Spire. As such, you’ll undoubtedly have your favourite, but they’re all worth experimenting with. And each time you unlock a new tribe, expect to have to try them out several times before you fully get a grip on what they can bring to the table. A new set of abilities might just surprise you.

With a fantastic art style that immediately charms you, and engaging gameplay that will keep you coming back time and time again, we love Wildfrost. It’s a very welcome entry into the roguelike card battler genre, offering challenging but fulfilling combat that we can’t get enough of. If you’re a fan of games like Slay the Spire, we urge you to try Wildfrost. You won’t be disappointed.


Wildfrost Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Wildfrost has been facilitated by a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.