The Judging Wood, Part Five
There is such a huge range of things both available and nascent on mobile platforms that categorizing them would not be a profitable venture for me, right now, in this paragraph. That is almost certainly someone’s job and I am happy letting them do that. I often prefer to play games with more than one system at play, but sometimes you see something on there that has a single mechanic so sharp at the tip that it augurs through your skull and and keeps going so that now it is through your skull and the chair behind so that you cannot move.
This is how the man from the ambulance finds you.
Card Crawl on iOS is, at root, a brutally honed solitaire variant. Hand of Fate digs in a similar sandbox - perhaps one directly adjacent to Card Crawl. It may be that on occasion sand from one box gets into the other box, in direct abrogation of the Sand Accords. But where Hand of Fate interprets the cards by sending you into a realm of direct control informed by them, Card Crawl is totally fine being a card game. This is something we might indicate with a hashtag like “#justmobilethings” or something similar. There are all kinds of sophisticated interactions available on mobile platforms, but typically they can only pick one. They don’t have the Sphere Grid and the Orb Matrix. And there are times, like this one, where the single point of pressure they get to engineer can be made unrelenting. It should have an Elven name. It’s something one might expect to find in a trove.
It’s not F2P, which isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but you won’t miss the psychic weight of that imp as you play. Here’s how it works: each turn, four cards get dealt to you that must be managed. And once you’ve managed three of them, three more are dealt to replace those, and so on. Get through the entire deck, and you win. Just below these cards is your play area. There’s you, with your cool character art and your hitpoints. Then, you have your left and right hands. Then, you have your backpack. The cards you get dealt are creatures, equipment, Coins, and special abilities. Sometimes you “manage” a monster by letting them kick you in the face. Sometimes you try to winnow them down with the swords and shields you’ve equipped to minimize the blow. Sometimes, you, uh… throw valuable equipment into a conveniently placed chipper shredder and turn it into Coins, not because you didn’t need those things, but because assuming you are not murdered “coin” is both your score for the round and the way you unlock cards. So, sometimes I make bad choices for money. Which offers the game a bit of verisimilitude.
Functionally speaking, it’s a game about triage. Conceptually speaking, I can’t tell if it’s alluringly filthy or gleamingly anodized. That is to say, I don’t know if it’s just this amazing, intuitive design that seems simple on the surface but works in a cosmic sense, or if it is a labored over, precision tooled thing. I’ll play it a couple hundred more times now, in a row, without attending to any bodily necessity, and let you know what I come up with.