I’ve only ever really dabbled with deckbuilders in the past, but Wildfrost has COMPELTELY hooked me in. Between the strategic gameplay, the charming visuals, and the rewarding sense of progression, it really has a lot going for it. But most of all? it’s wildly addictive, with that ‘one more go’ factor hitting me SUPER hard when playing.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The core mechanics of Wildfrost are pretty straight forward, with the playing field consisting of a grid of two rows made up of twelve spaces. The left side of the grid is where the player places their cards, whilst the right side hosts enemy cards that you have to vanquish to succeed. You’ll always start off by placing down your leader card (you choose this out of a random selection of three at the start of every run), whilst you’ll then follow up by drawing six cards from your deck. These are made up of companion cards which can be placed on the playing field, action cards that are played immediately, and support cards that can be placed on the playing field to offer varying effects. Not happy with your hand? You can re-draw a new one, though this takes up a turn – alternatively, after playing four turns, you can draw a new hand without using up a turn.

Both your leader and your companion cards have varying stats, with an indicator in the top right showing how much damage they can inflict on enemies per attack, an indicator in the top left displaying their health, and an indicator at the bottom showing how many turns have to pass before they take an action. They may also have special abilities, whether that’s unleashing a barrage of attacks against a row of enemies, inflicting extra poison damage to enemies with each attack, or even providing buffs to allies when hit, just to name a few. The same applies to your opponent’s cards too, with players having to closely monitor their stats across the board in order to develop a strategy to gain the upper hand over them.

It’s the turn-based mechanics that really make Wildfrost click. Whilst your action cards can inflict damage and varying effects on your enemies immediately, you’ll always want to check the turn counter at the bottom of each card in-play to see when they will perform their actions. A card will only attack the card directly in front of them too (unless otherwise indicated by a specific ability), meaning card placement is equally important when they are about to perform an action. With up to twelve cards being in play at any given time though, you’ve really got to pay attention to when their turns take place and be ready to handle the situation you might find yourself in.

“Each battle is riveting and demands real strategy from the player, whilst the thrill of drawing the perfect card for each situation never stops being satisfying.”

This is easy enough to work your head around when your own cards are performing actions, with players only having to decide which enemy card they want to attack with each card by shifting them around. Typically, you might want to focus on the enemy card with the lowest health just to wipe them out, but alternatively you may prioritise damaging a boss card instead – especially since defeating a boss card in battle automatically grants you victory. There’s plenty of strategy involved, especially since cards can also perform varying actions outside of simply dealing damage, but the concept of attacking is straightforward.

When it comes to defending? That can be a lot more complicated, especially since enemy cards will always take their turn first. For one, you have to prioritise protecting your leader, because if they die, it’s game over. Fortunately, any cards placed in front of them will take damage instead, whilst you can even put support cards in place to take the hit for them (I’ve lost track of the amount of times that a Woodhead has protected me from death). Alternatively, you can delay an enemy’s attack by inflicting the Snow status ailment upon them, which freezes their move counter in place. You can only do this if you have a companion that inflicts Snow-based attacks or an action card that carries the ailment, but when used, it can be a real game-changer that can turn the tide of a battle in your favour. There are other status effects to inflict too, some of which will deter your enemies (such as decreasing their attack damage or making them take double damage) and some that will help you out too (such as increasing your damage or giving you a shield). In fairness, there’s nothing that’s hard to understand when defending yourself, but with so many different enemy cards to worry about as well as a bit of forward-thinking required to plan ahead of their upcoming moves, there’s a heck of a lot of strategic thought required to succeed.

It all comes together perfectly to make for an utterly engrossing experience. Each battle is riveting and demands real strategy from the player, whilst the thrill of drawing the perfect card for each situation never stops being satisfying. There’s a real sense of progression with each run through the game too, with players adding additional cards to their deck as they progress, unlocking charms that offer varying boosts, as well as being able to spend cash at the store to purchase new cards or items to help out. You’ll even unlock special boosts after clearing specific boss encounters, with these helping players out by allowing them to draw more cards or take less turns to re-draw their hand, just to name a few. It’s just incredibly addictive, and whilst it’s disappointing to see a run come to an end, it never made we want to stop playing… it’s that good.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Of course, Wildfrost is a roguelike, so you’ll lose these extras whenever you’re defeated. It can be a REALLY tough game too, so you can expect plenty of failures on your journey. I’d be lying if I said some of these difficulty spikes didn’t feel unfair, especially with the random nature of drawing cards and building up your deck on a run, and there were some encounters which would feel utterly BRUTAL even early on in a run. It’s not a constant issue by any means, but you can expect some runs to end quickly with not much you can actually do about it.

Fortunately, they don’t stop the game from being a ton of fun to play, with these defeats making your successes all the more exhilarating. Furthermore, you’ll get to build up your home base of Snowdell by completing specific challenges throughout the game, with this giving you an array of permanent extras that allow you to shape your deck in different ways. You’ll even unlock new tribes to play as, with your choice of leader becoming more flexible as you play – these bring with them different decks of cards and ways of attacking too, so there’s plenty to play around with to find something that works for you. Whilst I’ll admit that I didn’t get on with the junk-based antics of the Clunkmaster tribe, I found the summoning capabilities of the Shademancers completely changed how I was able to approach each battle.  

It all looks really pretty too, with the cutesy and colourful visual style proving charming throughout. I loved the character and environment designs in the game, whilst the UI is intuitive and makes playing a breeze. It’s just a really nicely presented experience and one that kept me smiling with each new companion or enemy that I encountered.

Wildfrost Review

Wildfrost is an enthralling roguelike deckbuilder that’ll keep players hooked in with its satisfyingly strategic gameplay – just expect to suffer a lot of deaths when playing. Yep, the difficulty can be unpredictable (and a little harsh) at times, but at least it doesn’t stop the game from being a ton of fun to play.

With a real sense of progress when building up your home hub and earning upgrades, plenty of different decks and cards to play with, and a rewarding gameplay loop that’ll have you constantly repeating the phrase ‘one more go’, there’s PLENTY for deckbuilding fans to enjoy in Wildfrost.

Developer: Deadpan Games, Gaziter
Publisher: Chucklefish
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Website: https://www.wildfrostgame.com/