Review: Friday (Freitag)18 Jul 2017 0
Review: Friday (Freitag)
Released 29 Jun 2017
It turns out that Robinson Crusoe wasn’t the seventeenth century Bear Grylls that we were all lead to believe. In fact, it was his long-suffering companion, Friday, who was the brains behind the partnership. Friday wants nothing more than to return to the idyllic isolation of island life, and so sets out to teach Robinson the skills that he will require to eventually defeat the pirates and leave the island - I guess it brings a whole new meaning to the term TFI Friday.
Friday is a small solitaire card game by German board game designer Friedemann Friese. It features two of Mr Friese’s favourite things; namely, the colour green and game titles beginning with the letter F. Robinson is represented by a deck of cards. To win you will need to weed out the bad cards and introduce good ones, which represents Robinson gaining experience and learning new skills.
At the beginning of each turn, the player selects one of the two available challenge cards. Some challenges will be relatively easy, such as swimming out to the wreck for supplies or exploring the island. Other tasks will be tougher, like overcoming animals or battling cannibals. This difficulty is represented by the hazard’s strength rating, which Robison must attempt to match or better. The hazard card will also show how many cards Robinson can use. Finally, the lower section of the card will show a skill or item that will be added to Robinson’ deck should he be successful.
At the start of the game, Robinson is an ill-equipped and inexperienced castaway. He may have a healthy twenty health points but when faced with a hazard he is often “weak” or worse still “distracted.” Let us assume that Robinson is faced with the task of exploring the island. The card shows that he can draw two cards from his deck and must overcome a strength of one. The first card he draws is “distracted” which reduces his strength by one. The second card shows that he is “weak,” which has a value of zero. It looks like poor perplexed Robinson is going to fail, but there is still hope. Robinson can draw as many extra cards as he desires but has to forfeit a health point for each one. He decides to draw an extra card and joy of joys he finally gets his act together as a moment of “genius” adds two to his strength. His total fighting strength now matches that of the card, so he is successful and the special ability of the card is added to Robinson’s discard pile.
Sometimes, it may actually be beneficial to fail a task as it provides the opportunity to get rid of some poor cards. Let us assume that in the previous example Robinson decides against drawing any extra cards. This means that his total fighting strength is minus one. The hazard requires a strength of one which means that Robinson has failed by two points and must reduce his life points accordingly. However, he has still learnt from his experience and can now trash one played card for each health point he lost. This means that he can ditch both the weak and distracted cards, making him less likely to suffer these problems in the future.
To successfully overcome tougher challenges Robinson needs to be constantly improving his abilities by adding new knowledge cards to his deck. Many of these cards will have a special ability. There are food cards, which restore health points, and repeat cards that double the attack value of one of your cards. Then there are the realisation cards that let you destroy one of your current cards.
Although it is generally a good idea to dump rubbish cards, beware because there are disadvantages to thinning your deck to supermodel proportions. Each time your deck is exhausted the discarded cards are shuffled to form a new deck, but an additional ageing card is introduced. Ageing cards are really bad, not only do you have to get up in the middle of the night for a wee and watch countless reruns of Murder She Wrote, but also you suffer other harsh penalties. There is the “scared” card that reduces the value of your strongest card to zero, of the “very hungry” card that reduces your life points by two.
Hazard cards have three difficulty levels: green, yellow and red. As soon as the hazard deck is exhausted it is reshuffled and you must again battle your way through, however, this time the hazards will use the higher, yellow strength values. After progressing through the deck three times you face the final challenge of defeating two pirate ships. Succeed and Robinson gets to escape the island and Friday can finally return to his hammock to soak up some rays.
It will probably take a couple of games to get familiar with the mechanics so that you can begin to formulate a strategy. At its heart, Friday is a game of risk management. Do you attempt to slow down ageing by using your cards at a slower pace, or try and defeat the tougher hazards to acquire the best cards? When is it best just to cut your losses, take a hit and jettison some poor cards? The pirate ships are visible from the very start of the game, and some have special abilities. How does this threat impact on your overall strategy?
Friday offers quite a challenge, and even if you win there are higher difficulty levels to conquer, in which Robinson has to cope with extra ageing cards and less health. In my first few games, even on the first level, I didn’t progress beyond the second phase. Luck certainly plays a part, but you still feel that you learn from your mistakes, which makes you even more determined to succeed. However, nothing drastically changes from level to level and there is the risk that the game will become a bit repetitive.
The artwork is rather basic but still has a quirky charm, which nicely sums up Robinson’s current state of mind. The various symbols are easy to identify and the game plays smoothly. However, Friday does feel a little rushed and rough around the edges. The game lacks a tutorial, and on a smaller screen, the action icons are too close together, making it easy to choose the wrong one. It should also be noted that there is no way to save a game in progress. I guess this is to stop players from ruining the game’s challenge by saving their progress every step of the way.
Friday is an absorbing way to spend a spare 20 minutes. It plays quickly and presents the player with a satisfying number of decisions. The big advantage of playing the digital version is that you don’t have to worry about the continual shuffling, or sorting the cards before you can play again.