Review: Meteorfall: Journey12 Feb 2018 0
Review: Meteorfall: Journey
Released 25 Jan 2018
It looks like the mobile-gaming winter freeze is finally coming to an end, with a trickle of promising new releases making it to market. Meteorfall: Journey is one such game to crash through the sparse atmosphere, causing a fair amount of surprise and excitement in its wake.
Meteorfall is a solitaire deckbuilding monster bashing game, much in the style of a streamlined Dream Quest but with infinitely better graphics. The quest here is to defeat the dastardly Uberlich, thus preventing him from destroying the world with big rocks from space. You choose a hero from four fantasy archetypes: there is Bruno the Knight with a penchant for pink leggings. Next up is Greybeard the Wizard who loves a pint or two, then there is Mischief the Thief who is star of many a wanted poster. Finally, Rose the Cleric’s innocent persona hides a dark interior.
Both the heroes and their foes have their own unique deck of action cards, and just two statistics; health points and stamina.
After selecting a hero, you are taken to the world map and must choose a path. There are various terrain types to travel through, each with their own band of monsters and a final boss to defeat. At the beginning of each turn, a new encounter card will come into play, which is often unique to the particular landscape type. There are different sorts of encounters, but more often than not you will be up against a monster. Each time you face an adversary, you can decide to either fight or take the decidedly not-heroic choice of running away. Fleeing is always successful and will replenish some of your health points, but it will also mean that you miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable experience points.
Should you decide to face down a monster you will then draw the top card from your hero’s action card deck. You can either play the card to benefit from its ability, or you can pass. It should be noted that playing a card is not always possible, as they often require the expenditure of stamina points. This is where passing is useful as it allows you to regain some stamina to use in future actions. Spell cards work differently; they do not require stamina but each one has a limited number of charges. Using a card such as meditation will recharge spell cards. Each turn, you get a set number of actions points which determines how many cards you can play. When you have used all your actions, your adversary has the opportunity to draw and play cards. If you reduce a monster’s health to zero, then you earn coins and experience points. As you may have guessed, experience points are used to increase your hero’s level. Each time a hero’s level increases, you will have the choice of improving their maximum health or stamina points or gain another useful benefit.
Not all encounters will result in a bloody duel to the death. You will also encounter shops, which allow you to buy new cards, blacksmiths who can level-up your cards and temples that allow you to permanently remove cards from your deck. This latter option is not to be underestimated, since, like any other deckbuilding game, it is important to keep your deck lean and mean. You don’t want to add cards just for the sake of it and you should always be mindful of the cards that you already have and try to ensure new additions compliment them.
In Meteorfall, death is permanent. The result is that you end up either cursing your bad luck or your bad decisions, before knuckling down to start again. To sweeten the pill, your efforts are rewarded with gemstones, which can be spent to acquire new cards that will be permanently added to your deck. The opportunity to commence each quest with a different hero and follow a different path helps keep the game fresh. The heroes offer significantly different gameplay challenges. The wizard, with his offensive spells and the cleric with her healing spells both require careful management of spell cards. However, whilst the wizard blasts away to finish off his opponent as quickly as possible, the cleric demands a more considered approach, as she maintains her health levels whilst slowly chipping away at her enemy’s reserves. Then there is the knight with his big attacks and enhanced armour cards. Last but not least is the thief who relies on packing in as many weak but fast attacks as possible.
The interface is beautifully simple, each decision simply requiring a swipe to the left or the right. This means that playing one-handed on a packed train is a breeze. All the information that you need is presented in a clear and accessible way. A special mention should be made to the splendid cartoon artwork and the incongruous bluesy guitar riffs that accompany your journey.
Meteorfall does a fine job of giving you a series of simple yet meaningful decisions that are not obscured by a morass of rules. Fight or flee? Attack or pass? You are left to decide which particular swing or roundabout to jump aboard. Your hero’s advancements perfectly mirror that of your enemies, ensuring that your quest is finally balanced and always challenging. Challenging that is unless you have played a lot of deckbuilders such as Ascension and Dream Quest, in which case you may find the game a little too easy and lacking in challenge. Also, because you only draw and play a single card at a time the luck element is quite high, which may frustrate some players.
The developers call Meteorfall a roguelike game, which feels a little misleading to me – yes there is permanent death and each game is randomly generated, but the same could be said for countless decidedly un-rogue-like games. To me, the essence of a rogue game is the freedom to discover and explore a map step by step – not a feature here.
Meteorfall is a card game, pure and simple, but still a darn good one that is well worth checking out.