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Wildfrost mobile review – a pain in the deck, in the best way possible

In this Wildfrost mobile review we dive into this charming yet punishing premium game, exploring what makes it one of the best deck builders on Android and iOS.

Wildfrost mobile review - three Wildfrost characters layered in front of a screenshot of the village

Our Verdict

Wildfrost is a brilliant little deck builder that manages to both frustrate and charm in equal measure. Its magnificently moreish yet maddening gameplay loop makes it a perfect fit for mobile, and its intuitive yet punishing mechanics offer heaps of replayability, making it well worth the premium entry fee.

Wildfrost is hard. That’s something I learned very quickly after taking on this Wildfrost mobile review. I’d heard very positive things about the game on other platforms, but hadn’t played it myself, and went in relatively blind. So, when I found myself dying to the first boss over and over again, I began to wonder whether it was a ‘me’ problem, and started repeatedly proclaiming “man, I suck” before hitting the quick restart button and diving in again.

Turns out it wasn’t just a ‘me’ problem. While I definitely made some silly mistakes, coming to terms with your new friends’ mortality is part and parcel of starting out in Wildfrost. In fact, beginners’ tips posts from all over the internet reassured me that you will die many times, but the more you play, the easier it becomes – that is, until it loops around and gets really hard again when you finally manage to get to the end of a run.

Wildfrost is a charming and unique deck builder with a roguelike gameplay loop. You start by picking one of three leaders from a selection of different tribes (you start with just the Snowdwellers unlocked, but gain access to more further down the line), then charge into the treacherous, snowy tundra to fight a whole host of different enemies.

Along the way you can collect new party members and ability cards to bolster your deck, as well as charms to boost certain stats and crowns to ensure you start each battle with the cards you want. Then you die, usually because of something really silly like an explosive barrage from the enemy taking out your leader before you got the chance to use your heal, and you’re back to square one.

The game is utterly ruthless, but also one of the most enjoyable card games I’ve ever picked up. And, in the style of all the best roguelike games, it does reward you for your efforts, even when you meet a grizzly death.

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Throughout the game you’re tasked with a selection of challenges, such as recalling a certain amount of allies to heal them, killing a certain amount of enemies, or dealing a specific amount of damage – all of which you can achieve over multiple runs. After hitting one of these milestones, you unlock a new feature in the village.

The village acts as a hub between runs, and consists of a variety of shops and locations that you unlock and upgrade via these challenges. Over time, it gives you access to new pet cards to fight alongside you, new allies to meet out in the wild, new skill cards to add to your deck, and more. Additionally, while out in the field, you can sometimes come across an injured companion from a previous run. If you agree to have them join you, they start with half their HP, but beating one battle with them on your team fully heals them, which can be very valuable – especially if it’s an ally that you’ve kitted out with charms.

Wildfrost has a lot of moving parts, and, for the most part, it leaves you to work them all out. There are a few little tutorials delivered via a friendly, smiling sunshine over yellow text boxes (you can access these freely via blue question mark buttons), but, beyond that, it’s up to you to wrap your head around everything. As such, it’s integral to take your time and tap on each card to read the effects of any buffs, debuffs, and abilities that they have, and plan both your deck and battle strategy accordingly.

Luckily, while the game never gets ‘easy’, it is pretty intuitive once you get into the swing of things, especially as you unlock more tribes, cards, and useful items to help reinforce your team of merry berries, summons, and warriors. There’s also no time limit, so you can really ponder your move without any penalties.

Wildfrost mobile review - a screenshot showing the in-game shop

Wildfrost is a gorgeous game, too, with a stunningly whimsical OST and sound design, beautiful artwork, and an attention to detail that ensures every element – from menus to shops to enemies – cohesively fits into its unique worldview and setting. And, due to its vivid colors, easy-to-read UI, and simple animations, it all translates perfectly to mobile.

Throughout my many, many runs, I’ve not encountered any stuttering or performance issues on my iPhone 13, and everything loads super quick, so you don’t have to wait to jump into the next battle. It also does very well at suspending the game when you switch to another app or leave your phone for a while, meaning you can dive back into a run without worrying about losing your progress.

The controls in Wildfrost mobile are also very intuitive and easy to wrap your head around. You tap on a card, either with one finger or two depending on the situation, to read its effects, and you drag your cards onto the battlefield to use them. The only real issue I’ve had with the controls is that sometimes, when you drag a card from your hand onto the field, your phone can detect it as a ‘swipe up’, and minimize the game or take you to the app selection carousel.

Additionally, scrolling up in the village sometimes sees you accidentally select a building. The drag and drop for both cards and charms can be a little finicky, too, and occasionally may take a few attempts to register – though this may be impacted by the heat of your fingers/thumb and palm, and isn’t enough of an issue that it bothered me in any real, tangible way.

Wildfrost mobile review - a screenshot of a player deck in the in-game inventory

One truly refreshing feature of Wildfrost mobile is that it’s a premium title. As a direct port of the PC and console version, it simply requires a one-off purchase and features no microtransactions. That means no login bonuses, premium currencies, battle passes, in-game shops, ads, or pop-ups yelling ‘come on, spend $20 to buy a couple of tokens, you know you want to’.

Additionally, unlike many other card-based titles, it isn’t a gacha game, meaning you don’t have to pull on a banner and pray to the RNG gods to unlock new allies or ability cards – you simply need to keep playing to unlock everything this game has to offer, though the RNG rates do dictate what cards and allies you get on each run!

If you do decide, for some bizarre reason, that the main game isn’t tricky enough for you, you can also set out on a ‘daily voyage’ by tapping on the hot air balloon in the village. It generates a new adventure each day, with random cards and modifiers, and all cards, tribes, events, and charms are unlocked during daily voyage runs – but you only get one attempt to challenge it each day.

While I’ve not explored this game mode much myself, I really appreciate its addition, as it adds even more replayability to a game that already has so much longevity, and offers a little extra edge for those of you who have bested the main game a couple of times.

Wildfrost mobile review - a screenshot of gameplay showing multiple cards on the field in-battle

Overall, Wildfrost is an absolutely brilliant little deck builder that manages to both frustrate and charm you in equal measure. It’s adorable yet menacing – kind of like a kitten with a knife in its mouth – and its punishing yet rewarding gameplay loop is intensely moreish, making it a perfect fit for mobile. It’s simple on the surface, but holds so much beneath, and, in my opinion, is well worth the premium price. If it sounds like your type of thing, I implore you to give it a try.

If you’re looking for more premium mobile games to explore, be sure to check out our Ex Astris review. Or, if your heart belongs to the world of TCGs and deck builders, we’ve got a handy Marvel Snap tier list, as well as a Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel meta decks guide.