Version Reviewed: 1.4
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Card Crawl is a card-based dungeon crawler that plays an awful lot like Solitaire. Although it doesn't sound like the most exciting premise for a game, it's surprisingly fun and challenging.
The premise of Card Crawl is kind of fascinating because its card game inspiration is fully acknowledged within the world. Players aren't dungeon crawling really, but instead are facing off against a monster in a game of cards at a pub. However, the card game being played is a representation of the hero as they battle through a deck of cards full of the things one might find in a dungeon.
Players have to choose where to place three of four randomly dealt cards before being able to reveal three more. Cards in this deck can be gold, weapons, shields, potions, or (of course) enemies. In terms of where to put these cards, players can equip item cards into one of their two hands or stow it away in their bag, while enemies are dealt with by using weapon cards on them, using equipped shields, or taking damage directly to their character card. The goal is for players to clear all cards in the deck, while never losing all 13 of their life points.
Card Crawl is very successful in capturing the feel of a dungeon crawler in card game form, even if that card game is more or less Solitaire. Instead of hacking and slashing at goblins, players stack a sword card on top of them or use a sap card to put it back in the deck. What keeps Card Crawl interesting is that it's less random than it may initially appear to be. Although the card draws are most certainly unpredictable, players have a lot more options when it comes to choosing how to deal with them. If players are in a strong state, they can sacrifice some life points knowing that a potion will be coming later, for example. This exact brand of planning and risk/reward systems is what make Card Crawl fun to play.
The unfortunate thing about Card Crawl's card system, however, is that - unlike dungeon crawlers - it suffers from a lack of variety and persistence. More or less every game of Card Crawl features the same sets of challenges, albeit in a different order. To be fair, it does have a card unlock system and a gameplay mode where players can modify the deck to a certain degree, but these features still don't quite make it feel like a particularly deep experience. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but anyone expecting loot, upgrades, and other more complicated mechanics associated with traditional dungeon crawlers may be a little let down.
Card Crawl is an enjoyable, casual card game that feels a touch like Diablo-meets-Solitaire. Although it doesn't present an abundance of variety or depth, it is a completely enjoyable casual experience that just so happens to draw inspiration from something that is usually more complicated. This could be cause for some dissatisfaction, but that doesn't make it a bad game. Instead, it makes Card Crawl an accessible, jump-in-jump-out experience.