Wildfrost is a singleplayer roguelike deck builder developed by Deadpan Games & Gaziter and published by Chucklefish, where players can discover new cards and unlock card synergies to journey through the land and defeat enemies in a vivid universe.
There is so much going on for the new strategic deckbuilder, Wildfrost, that just based on the foundational aspects of the game, it deserves a positive review, which is why I was so surprised when I first browsed the initial user reception on Steam. The music is great, the aesthetic is unique and cute, and the randomly-generated elements of this singleplayer card game fit perfectly into what it’s trying to achieve.
On top of all those things, the item system and loot discovery mechanics make it feel fresh and distinctive while not pushing overly complex mechanics for players to understand. However, with all the good, there are some minor issues with tuning and difficulty, and while it doesn’t make Wildfrost a bad game, it’s an issue that may turn off people new to the genre.
The Core Gameplay is a Blast Once You Get Into It
Players start with the game’s default faction, the Snowdwellers, and a set of Snowdweller cards they can use for their first run. Cards can be companions, which are placed on the gameboard and have a turn-timer for their attacks, or ability cards that players can use instantly for an effect or buff. Players have to face enemies in battles and then choose paths to unlock new cards, companions, and card-specific buffs via items called Charms. Players need to keep a Leader card alive, and if its HP reaches 0, you’ll get reset back to the beginning.
Gameplay is snappy and as fast or slow as you’d like to play things out. New cards and companions are locked behind missions that are all pretty attainable as long as you play the game. You can do daily challenges with pre-set decks to see how you stack up with others playing the game, and overall — it’s pretty fun and addictive once you get into it.
Over time, you’ll gain access to new Clans along with new cards that completely change how the game works — providing opportunities for exponentially stronger card synergies. This will get you over the initial difficulty curve and will help unlock new opportunities for varying playstyles.
Ultimately, a full run in Wildfrost is somewhat short, with just a few bosses and a very challenging end-boss fight, where your cards will Ascend in the game if you win. Currently, if you’re pretty good at playing the right cards, a full run through the final boss takes around 45 minutes.
A Cohesive, Thoughtful Project
Cohesion is an often overlooked aspect of gaming, but one that’s an ever-present aspect in games people consider “great.” From the art style and music to the limited voice acting — everything here fits within the Wildfrost aesthetic. And it isn’t a case where the game is just a reskin of another game, either. While mechanics and concepts in Wildfrost may be similar to other deck builders, everything from having a giant monster eating your cards to remove cards from the deck or talking to the local inventor for your Clunkmaster cards, fits together and feels like it belongs in the same universe.
This adds a level of polish that I can very much appreciate, which lacks in other titles from smaller developers, and helps create the universe in which the game is based. The attention to detail here is apparent and should motivate other developers to attain the same level of world-building as Deadpan Games.
Wildfrost May Be Too Hard for Casuals, but Veterans Will Enjoy
As a gaming journalist, I can hear the tomatoes getting loaded and moans and boos in the crowd already — but hear me out. Wildfrost suffers from a difficulty curve that may be too punishing to newcomers to the genre, not because the game is inherently impossible to beat, but because it lacks a sense of power progression, even as you acquire new cards.
While there are opportunities to discover new cards, it only expands your deck size, making the RNG feel even worse when your desired build is unattainable for the cards you’ve been dealt. And while this would be fine if other card synergies existed that could get you past the third boss, there are less viable end-game builds, so it’s more than possible to die on a weaker boss if you’ve been dealt a less-than-ideal hand.
All of this being said — the sense of difficulty will have you coming back for more, trying to unlock how to progress and implement new strategies as you acquire new cards and perks that completely change your playstyle. There is depth here; it’s just a bit more RNG than other deck builders that let you pass on adding a card or give you more freedom to adjust the cards in your deck.
If you have played similar games like Slay the Spire or Across the Obelisk, some of this will feel intuitive, and you may be able to get pretty far on your first run. However — at least for me (I’m nowhere near as skilled as a pro), it required finding new cards and unlocking new clans to finally beat the game.
Wildfrost is a thoughtful, challenging, engaging, and ultimately fun deck builder. It shines with a unique art style and gameplay mechanics that increase replayability. Though the game may be a bit too challenging for players that have not played other games in the genre, for veterans, it’s a complete blast and one worth checking out.
Wildfrost is a roguelike deck builder with a challenging difficulty curve but ultimately rewarding gameplay set in a unique world with a distinct and cute aesthetic.
Wildfrost is available on Steam.
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Reviewed on PC.