App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Have you enjoyed games like Card Crawl on your phone in the past? If so, you might be delighted to know that Mind Cards is a solo card game that feels a lot like a Tinytouchtales game, and it’s free to boot. It may not be the most complicated game out there, but Mind Cards can be a really satisfying challenge if you stick with it.
Mind Cards presents players with a deck of cards that mimics a dungeon of sorts. There are cards to represent monsters, potions, gems, weapons, and food, but the order in which they appear is the luck of the draw.
The game board fits eight cards on it at a time, and your goal is to work your way through them in an order that keeps you in fighting shape to get through the rest of the deck. As you tap on cards, they disappear and result in some sort of consequence—monsters subtract health from your character, potions replenish it, etc. It’s a simple setup, but can lead to tricky situations that you have to puzzle out to ensure your survival.
When you tap on cards in Mind Cards, you leave an empty spot on the board that can only be filled by tapping on the deck to draw new cards. Drawing new cards costs three gems though, and if you don’t have them, sacrificing three health does the trick. In addition, Mind Cards has a food system that you have to maintain in order to prevent yourself from losing health each time you tap on a card.
These things make an otherwise straightforward game actually have quite a bit of depth and longevity to it. To further complicate the game, you also earn gold between rounds of Mind Cards, which you can spend to unlock new cards,. These cards can do things like move cards back into the deck or transform cards from one type to another. You also have a side objective in every game you can complete to try and earn bonus coins. Between all of these systems, there’s almost never two games of Mind Cards that are quite alike.
A long journey
Mind Cards is a really impressive package, particularly considering it’s free (no ads, no in-app purchases, nothing). That said, the game’s progression can feel a little slow once you’ve learned the base mechanics.
Unlocking new cards one at a time adds a new wrinkle to each game, but not so much that your core strategies have to shift with each unlock. Instead, you just gradually learn how to incorporate these cards into your play and use this to grind enough cards to earn the next one on the list. Considering the escalating prices of the cards themselves, this means you can play Mind Cards for a really long time before you feel like you’re playing the full experience.
The bottom line
It feels unfair to complain too much about Mind Cards’s progression mechanics, especially considering there’s no free-to-play tricks at play here trying to get you to pay for cards. That said, the game progresses slowly enough that you may grow bored playing with a limited set of cards before you have a chance to experience the full game. Luckily though, the core action of Mind Cards is fun enough that it’s entirely conceivable that you’d want to play it over and over again, right up until earning the final card, and beyond.