Wildfrost review – Adorable cards bring crushing difficultly

An image of official Wildfrost artwork.Deadpan Games / Gaziter

Wildfrost is a brand new deckbuilding roguelike that provides players with a chilly and challenging twist on the card-based genre. 

​​At first glance, Wildfrost seems cozy. The characters and creatures inhabiting the game’s wintery world look like they could have stepped right out of your favorite Saturday morning cartoon.

This bright and charming presentation is what makes its rather grim premise and often punishing difficulty such an effective contrast once you get stuck into its challenging roguelike gameplay.

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In a somewhat oversaturated genre, Wildfrost successfully carves out an identity all of its own that’s packed full of charism and charm.

Wildfrost key details

  • Price: £16.99 / $19.99
  • Developer: Deadpan Games / Gaziter
  • Release date: April 12, 2023
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC

Wildfrost trailer

A deadly winter wonderland

An image from Wildfrost.Deadpan Games / Gaziter
You’ll constantly be adding new cards to your deck throughout Wildfrost.

Wildfrost is a roguelike deckbuilder that’s packed full of vibrant visuals, which is a tad ironic considering the player’s goal in the game is to journey across a darkened world and reach the mystical Sun Temple in order to save the town of Snowdwell from an everlasting winter. Snowdwell acts as a home base in Wildfrost, and the town will grow based on your in-game achievements.

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The first step for every run of Wildfrost is to select a Tribe leader – a character who will have randomized stats and buffs and acts as the main fighter in your deck. If their HP runs out on the battlefield, it’s game over.

Your deck in Wildfrost is ever-expanding and is primarily strengthed by discovering frozen travelers. With each encounter, you’ll meet three colorful characters and will be able to add one to your deck. Every character has different abilities, so striking an effective balance between offense and defense depending on your leader’s strengths is crucial when selecting new cards.

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Chilling tactical combat

An screenshot of Wildfrost gameplay.Deadpan Games / Gaziter
Wildfrost is all about challenging card-based combat.

The majority of Wildfrost’s gameplay takes place in card-based combat, where players will use their leader and companion cards to take down waves of enemies.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Wildfrost’s gameplay is the countdown system – every card on the field has a countdown that will instigate an attack once it reaches zero. This of course means you can’t just deal damage whenever you like but neither can your opponent.

Keeping a close eye on the countdown is essential so players will need to constantly plan ahead. There are resources available that can directly affect your countdown – a Sun Rod can reduce it which effectively increases speed, while a Snow Stick can freeze it, delaying oncoming attacks.

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Every card you obtain on your journey has unique abilities, and depending on what they are you may want to use them on the enemy instead of yourself. For example: if you have a companion card with the ‘Smackback’ skill, it will have high damage but can only attack after being hit. In this instance, you may want to use a Sun Rod to speed up their attacks so your ‘Smackback’ card could whittle down the enemy’s HP quickly.

Overall, the countdown system, the constant need to reposition your cards, and the ability to directly affect enemy cards as well as your own makes battles in Wildfrost a truly captivating challenge.

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Verdict – 4/5

While the difficulty can become a little too frustrating at times, Wildfrost’s card-based combat is consistently fun. Seeing the town of Snowdwell progress is a fantastic incentive to keep playing, and it’s more than enough to keep you coming back for ‘just one more’ run.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

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