Arts & Entertainment

Review: New indie game ‘Wildfrost’ receives unwarranted mixed reviews

Is this cool new roguelike deckbuilder truly “too hard?”

Video by Nintendo of America via YouTube | The Wildfrost Announcement Trailer
Photo by Deadpan Games | A screenshot of the game in action.

With the summer coming around and temperatures quickly rising, what’s a better way to cool off than tricking your mind playing a frosty winter-themed indie game? Maybe air conditioning, but that’s besides the point. Made by the powerful two-person team of Will Lewis and @Gaziter, “Wildfrost” is a cool, cute and incredibly addicting roguelike deckbuilder.

For a quick rundown for those unfamiliar, roguelike deckbuilders are all about gameplay and mechanics; the levels are randomly generated and you’re forced to start a new run each time you die. Each run has you collecting characters and items that you draw in combat, and your goal is to defeat the enemy without having your champion knocked out. It’s a genre known for its challenging and fun gameplay, with games like “Slay the Spire” and “Monster Train” being the two big staples. “Wildfrost” definitely doesn’t disappoint on those terms either, and it differentiates itself from the rest by incorporating interesting mechanics such as attack timers and charms.

There has been debate on whether the game is too challenging. The game launched April 12, and hovered around a not-so-ideal mixed review score on Steam, with only 60% of reviews being positive. Fans and critics alike have adored the charming artstyle and interesting game mechanics, but critics were quick to point out some supposed flaws. 

“After nearly 48 hours of play, 110 runs and only one victory, I can’t recommend Wildfrost in its current state,” says Appa, one Steam reviewer.

“The mechanics are a lot of fun, the visuals are great and the abilities usually feel really good. But the sheer difficulty and what feels like unfairness in the game just leaves a sour taste in my mouth,” says Peter, another Steam reviewer. 

Photo by Deadpan Games

Not to boast, but I didn’t have quite as much trouble picking up the game. I’ve sunk about 9 hours into it so far and have gotten the normal and secret ending a handful of times. The game’s mechanics are tough, but most of my failures have been on my behalf, overlooking some enemy attacks. There’s plenty of merit in the flaws some critics have pointed out in regards to the game’s balance, but it’s really not as bad as it’s been portrayed.

That being said, the team behind “Wildfrost” have been open to the feedback they’ve received, both positive and negative. They held a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” soon after the game came out to gather words from players, where plenty of folks asked about the game’s difficulty and reviews.

“The team are also looking to address the balance feedback, to give players more options and allow for a smoother difficulty curve. We hope these changes will address some of the comments, while also allowing for a challenging experience for those who want it,” says @ChucklefishPilgrim, part of the publishing team.

All in all, “Wildfrost” really puts itself out there as an incredibly charming and unique game, among a genre that has already started to repeat itself pretty heavily. The cute and bright art style brought from @Gaziter is honestly a selling point, being one of the main reasons the game was on the radar of so many fans to begin with, and the innovative card-specific turn counter system further elevates “Wildfrost” into something truly fresh.

Its difficulty has thrown some people off, but with the promises we’ve been given from the development team and the updates the game will continue to get, it’s in a really good place to pick up. The reviews have gone up, too! It’s sitting at a pretty 76 percent, or Mostly Positive on Steam. If you’re interested, the game is only $20 on PC and Nintendo Switch!