Card Quest is, in many ways, right up my alley. It’s a roguelike with a card-based mechanic; I like card games, I wish I liked roguelikes more than I do, but I like the way Card Quest approaches the genre. The card mechanics put me in a state of mind where I’m expecting to lose frequently and to jump back in, but the game also lets you capture improvements as you make it further through the game, with those improvements coming in the form of increased number of deck-construction choices, a richer set of options instead of a simple power leveling up.

And the game gives you a lot of choices. Right from the beginning, you have a choice between four different classes which give you four different starting decks; and those starting decks are extremely different from each other. The tutorials for those classes actually make a pretty good game on its own, because each tutorial gives you a series of challenges with more and more of the starting deck available for you, forcing you to find a perfect line of play through increasingly difficult circumstances. The only downside of the tutorial is that it’s a little unrepresentative compared to the regular game, because it turns into a puzzle game forcisg you to uncover an extreme line of play emerging from predefined order of drawing cards; but it’s a good puzzle game, and its extreme nature makes you aware of possibilities that would be harder to uncover otherwise.


Once you get to the regular game, the scenarios are much less extreme, at least at first. Which is a little relaxing; but when you get to the boss battles at the end of each section, you certainly have to be on your toes. And, as you finish each section, you unlock upgrades: sometimes they give you new options for your deck, sometimes they give you powerups that you can (typically) use once per battle. Those upgrades are persistent, giving you more options for your future playthroughs; there are also temporary powerups that you accumulate on each individual playthrough, which give you another set of choices for tweaking your capabilities.

So there’s a lot of meat here, and I enjoyed it. Having said that, I also stopped playing earlier than I would have predicted, after only exploring a fairly small subset of the possibility space. I think the main reason for that was a difference in the game compared to my expectations: I was expecting Card Quest to be a game that I would play in spare moments, but play sessions turned out to be longer than that. Which is fine, but it meant that I had to schedule play sessions, and I already had another game that I was playing in my longer sessions.

And the other consequence of those longer sessions (and the related fact that gameplay is asymmetrical) is that the density of learning is a little low. In a game of, say, Ascension, you’re testing your feel for the cards in every single match: your opponents have access to the same cards as you do, so it’s always a potentially even game. With Card Quest, in contrast, enemy encounters are of radically different difficulty levels: so you spend a lot of your time in encounters that you can make it through without thinking too much, some time in encounters that keep you on your toes, and only a little bit of time in encounters that require you to up your play through repeated attempts. So most of your time in the game isn’t particularly conducive to learning; this is actually completely normal for video games, but card games can do better in this regard.


Anyways, a good game: in a different timeline, I can imagine playing it for months on end, and it’s still entirely possible that I’ll decide to come back to it, there are many many deck and opponent possibilities in the game that I haven’t yet explored.

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