App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Another game has tossed its hat into the Reigns-like arena, and this time it's full of Lovecraftian monsters and the occult. Underhand is a card game all about managing your own cult and trying to summon unimaginably horrible and monstrous gods. As a competitor to things like Reigns or Artificial Superintelligence, Underhand may not seem particularly impressive, but the game is fun enough, especially considering it's free.
Underhand's gameplay follows a pretty basic formula. You start with a hand of resource cards (Cultists, Prisoners, Food, Money, etc.) that you use to interact with a deck full of actions. Every turn, you draw one card from the deck that may ask you to do things like pay taxes, steal goats, or recruit cultists, and these things may either grant you more resource cards or take them from your hand, depending on the action you choose to take.
The ultimate goal of performing these actions is to end up summoning a demon god of some sort, but the way to accomplish this varies from god to god. Some gods simply ask you to maintain your cult for long enough to initiate the summoning process, while others ask you to go without food or achieve some other game state first.
The gods work in mysterious ways
If you are successful in summoning a god, you unlock new cards that you can add to your deck on subsequent runs, but winning isn't as simple as it may appear at first. The first couple gods in Underhand are very easy to come across and summon, but from there, there is very little direction about how to find and summon more gods.
On top of this, Underhand has certain rules about its resource cards that make you constantly manage the state of your hand to keep playing. For example, if you accumulate too many cards, you may get cursed with greed, which forces you to discard five random cards. Alternatively, you could perform too many suspicious actions, which can cause Police Raid cards to appear. Taking care to maintain resources and anonymity while also performing your dark ceremonies is precisely what Underhand is all about, and maintaining this challenge–while difficult–can be pretty dang fun.
So cheap it's free
The real kicker to Underhand is that it's a completely free game. There's no in-app purchases, ads, or anything else clogging up the action. You just download it and play. That said, there are a few things that can put a stop to the fun and make the experience feel kind of rough around the edges.
First and foremost is that Underhand doesn't do well with any sort of background music or multitasking. Attempting to play music while playing Underhand causes the game to crash. On another technical note, Underhand also isn't good about saving your progress mid-run. If you start a game and try to resume it later on, it's likely that you'll just have to start a new game. These things, in addition to the relative directionless process of unlocking later gods, can make Underhand a little frustrating at times.
The bottom line
Underhand isn't as polished or detailed as other games of its ilk, but that kind of thing is hard to complain about considering the whole thing is completely free. As long as you're ok with some of the caveats in its design, Underhand is a fun solo card game that's totally worth picking up.