Review: Cadwallon: City of Thieves20 May 2016 4
Review: Cadwallon: City of Thieves
Released 08 May 2012
Or, they would, if there were any way to select a scenario other than the Treasure of the Duke. The interface is so opaque that I honestly can't tell whether they implemented those scenarios, but never explained how to access them, or simply never put them into the digital version of the game. This is one of many failures which make Cyanide look more like the Kyanide Kops, with blunder atop blunder. If you look carefully at the first image above, you may notice that it has a Yes/No confirmation dialogue upside-down at the top of the screen. This might have made sense with an iPad on a table between two players on opposite sides (except it still didn't, because "Yes" opens the option to select a card from a hand which appears right-side-up), but it clearly doesn't when playing as a single player against an AI. There are translation errors throughout, sometimes resulting in mere chuckles, but other times leaving one with a cryptic or absent explanation of some crucial point. For example, in order to leave, you don't just move your thief to the exit, you have to tap on their player portrait, which is off the map. No mention is ever made of this fact, so I spent my first several games just getting every character caught at the end, and hoping to make up for the penalty that gave me. Eventually I tried tapping in random places, long-tapping, dragging, and finally stumbled upon the correct method. That highlights a more general problem with the interface--it employs different confirmation symbols for confirming each kind of action, and they're only usually in the same place. The only way to make that user-friendly would be to make frequent use of animated visual cues to draw the eye to what's relevant at any particular point. This is rarely present, and so subtle as to be nearly useless then.
Part of what leaves me so flabbergasted that this digital translation is so awful is just how thoroughly it seems to miss the virtues of the tabletop game, which is beautiful and accessible. It looks like a stylish, competitive equivalent of the Dungeons and Dragons Adventure System games--the sorts of games I could reasonably hope to play with middle-schoolers or even elementary students because they present a relatively friction-free experience with a notable "Wow!" factor. The muddy textures and 1990s-era look of the interface make the presentation a confusing mess which only wows with its incompetence, and causes enough confusion and dismay that only a truly dedicated player would ever become sufficiently familiar with the interface to enjoy the game underneath. That buried game isn't bad, but it's not the sort strategic masterpiece which would justify dealing with this crap.