Wildfrost is a roguelike deckbuilder by Deadpan Games and Gaziter in which you fight your way to the source of a mystical winter.
At the start of each battle, you place your leader onto a two-row battlefield. Each turn, you play one card from your hand, and every unit’s trigger timer reduces by one. Once a unit’s timer hits zero, their effect is triggered, and they deal damage or status effects depending on their description.
If your leader dies, your run is over, so you’ll often be placing companion units on the board to body-block damage, rearranging units to keep them alive, healing your leader with cards, or targeting enemies who might deal lethal damage.
It’s a fresh take on the genre partially because of the speed of it all. You won’t be doing any minute-long card combos, but instead fighting to influence a turn timer that inexorably marches towards damage.
That’s not to say there’s no synergy, however. Instead of playing multiple cards in a turn, you’ll be aiming to create an engine with your leader and companion cards. For example, some units can inflict poison, and a specific unit can make poison transfer from one enemy to another when they die. Get both on the board and protect them, and you’ll make quick work of a large group of enemies.
Outside of combat, Wildfrost has the usual node-based map of most deckbuilding roguelikes, with a simple two-way branching system. Each combat encounter is randomized, along with the specific cards you can get in shops or as rewards.
Each card is modifiable with charms, attachable buffs that you can find as rewards in your journey. Charms are mostly randomly acquired, so finding a charm can create unexpected or powerful synergies in your deck. It’s cool to see a mediocre companion become amazing because you buffed its low health, or base your strategy around a now amazing card from your hand.
There are limits on how many companion cards you can have in your deck, and you can only have six units on the board, but otherwise the game allows you to build your deck in any direction you like.
The art is very cute, and the small bits of story text are fun, but not groundbreaking. The sound design communicates well, and the music is fun, even if it inevitably gets repetitive over a few dozen runs.
Some of the bosses use very specific status effects that can wipe out your team in a way that feels random. You have limited control over whether you randomly acquire cards that are good at dealing with the status effects a certain boss inflicts, and you can’t know which boss to prepare for because they’re randomized, except for the final boss. Skill does help, but you will also sometimes get destroyed because you had bad luck on a run, which isn’t fun.
There are three tribes with three starter decks, and while the individual leader cards are randomized per run, each deck you build must account for the starter cards, which gets to be boring. I wish there were more tribes and more groups of starter cards, but I only wish that because it was so much fun to learn each tribe’s quirks and unique mechanics.
Overall, Wildfrost manages to feel fresh, unique, and well-tuned. If you like roguelike deckbuilders, this is a good one with a solid amount of replayability.
Wildfrost is out now on Nintendo Switch and PC for $19.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Wildfrost.