Wildfrost review – “A compelling roguelike deck-builder that’ll make you want to volunteer as tribute”

  • Adorable visuals with unforgiving difficulty
  • Compelling gameplay with deep card strategy
  • Replayability factor makes it worth the price tag

How often can you embark on an epic quest to save the world from eternal winter but end up saving a naked gnome instead? That’s all in a day’s work for the chosen one in Wildfrost, a vibrant yet unforgiving roguelike deck-builder that’s recently made the jump to mobile. With its colourful characters, deep strategic combat, and brutal bosses that have no business looking deceptively cute, is Chucklefish’s premium title worth the price of admission?

Table of contents:

Wildfrost: Story and Visuals

While the narrative in roguelike deck-builders often falls by the wayside, Wildfrost puts as much thought into its story as it does its card strategies. In essence, you’ll play as an expendable hero who’s bold – or foolish – enough to set out on a journey to end the inexplicable frost that’s taken over the land.

Many have tried yet none have returned – a harrowing reality that’s reflected in the journal you share with everyone else. Here, each new hero you play will scribble their name onto the journal as your journey begins. You’ll need to steel yourself, however, as each time you die – and you will die – you’ll strike off every previous hero’s name on the journal, punctuating that hero’s untimely demise.

Despite all the gloom and doom, Wildfrost lulls you into a false sense of security with its adorably designed characters and vibrant visuals. Even the tutorial sees you off using a bubbly sun with a smiley face like you’re not about to venture into your own death – and it all works too darn well.

Wildfrost: Gameplay

It’s not all sunshine and butterflies despite what the lovely visuals might show, as you’ll soon find out just how unforgiving the battles can be. Typical of the genre, you’ll start in the same place with your chosen hero – a wide variety of cards that each boasts its own set of special skills – and as you battle through randomised foes, you’ll progress through different nodes that either have tricks or treats in them.

Sometimes, you’ll stumble upon a treasure chest with new cards you can add to your deck. Other times, you’ll encounter a block of ice and set frozen Companions free so they can join you on your quest. You’ll also be able to purchase goodies from a woolly snail, feed unwanted cards to a snow-covered ram called the Muncher, or even bump into the aforementioned naked gnome with a penchant for wandering into enemy territory.

wildfrost random encounter a naked gnome that does nothing

All these add to the overall charm of the deck-builder, and when you eventually perish because of a careless misstep, you can return to your town and see what’s opened up to help you on your next run. Depending on your achievements, you can unlock different structures in town that you can use to boost your survivability (like recruit new Companions for you). These should hopefully help you get further than your previous run, and as you go on, you’ll also unlock more of the story and new card “classes” along the way.

What’s the appeal?

While all that might make Wildfrost sound like it’s just your average roguelike, what sets it apart is its crushing difficulty. I’ve had one too many rage-quits just because I miscalculated an attack or failed to plan my moves three steps ahead, but, like a masochistic fool, I kept plodding on anyway. Rinse and repeat. This is mainly due to just how compelling the gameplay here can be – there really does seem to be no limit to how you can strategise your win each time. You can equip Charms and other boons as you go along, but it’s ultimately how you play to your strengths that helps you make it through unscathed. wildfrost card battle gameplay

And when you do reach that sweet, sweet victory towards the end, Wildfrost pulls the rug out from under you with a special twist – something I don’t want to spoil for you, as you’ll really need to experience it yourself.

The best part of it all is its premium price, and the added mobile perk of being able to give it a go for free before deciding on a full purchase to unlock the whole game. With the number of cards you can tinker around with, the sheer amount of unlockables to aim for, and the insane replayability, I honestly think it’s well worth the pocket money.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, as you can give Wildfrost a trial run for yourself on Google Play and the App Store. For now, I think I’d like to go back and torture myself by trying to save Snowdell one more time…