Game Review: Frost (Switch)

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3 days. That’s how long I had to download “Hearthstone” for on my phone due to the speed of my internet connection, and the constant drops. I also tried the official “Pokemon TCG” but that didn’t even work. Can you see a pattern here? Yes, I was looking for a card game to play. And then, out of nowhere, our friends at Digerati got in touch. “Would you like to play this deck building game that’s also a survival game set in a frozen tundra?”. Boy, did I ever. That’s how I got into “Frost”.

And got into it, I did. “Frost” tells the story (and I use the terminology loosely here, as it’s not really a plot-driven game) of trying to survive The Frost. You have cards with resources, which you must manage to advance and get closer and closer to shelter. Right behind you, though, The Frost grows ever closer. On your way to shelter, you’ll encounter traders, wolves and other hazards.

Idea Cards play a big role in your survival. Thankfully, the game does a great job at explaining what each one does.

I’m amazed at the amount of strategic complexity they were able to cram in such a restrained environment. There aren’t that many different cards (there are not too few, either), and yet using them correctly according to the area you’re in is constantly a matter of thinking very, very carefully. You can’t use the same strategy for every area: sometimes it’s worth sacrificing a survivor to get a resource card and advance quickly. Sometimes it’s better to shuffle the cards and end the turn, in hopes that you’ll be able to access the Idea Card (special cards that have abilities you can turn on and off) to power through a couple of areas.

I know it sounds complicated, but it’s really not. The game also has one of the best tutorials I’ve played through: it not only teaches you the mechanics of the game, but it’s fun. It doesn’t feel like a chore. And you can play that game until the end, as if it was a normal match. Top marks for that.

Visually, the game is minimalist in its approach but has vast amounts of charm, no doubt thanks to its hand-drawn aesthetics. I’m a huge fan of certain types of art, and boy, “Frost” really ticked all the presentation boxes for me.

The sound, though… I understand we’re survivors in a frozen land, but I wish there were more sound effects when using cards. There are some, but they get repetitive after a while and they also don’t fully represent the card being used sometimes. It’s a very minor gripe, but I think it is something that could have been improved upon.

The cards present offer plenty of strategy for the would-be survival strategist within you.

The game controls great with the Switch face and shoulder buttons, and you quickly become a dab-hand at managing your deck and playing your cards, as well as advancing turns. I must admit, though, to wishing I had this game on my phone instead of my Switch. I know it may seem counter-intuitive, but I believe this is an experience that would lend itself well to killing time while waiting in line or not being able to fall asleep. It is a testament to the quality of the game, I think, that I wish I had it with me more. Read into it what you will, but there you go. (There is, thankfully, an Android version).

Overall, I found “Frost” to be exactly what I needed: a very thorough, deep gameplay experience that’s easy to pick up and difficult to master. You’ll die tons of times trying to reach shelter, and you’ll develop different strategies for different areas. The art looks great, and it runs buttery smooth on the Switch. Sure, I wish it had more sound work done, and I wish I had it in a more portable package, but overall, “Frost” is the best card game on the Switch right now. It’s actually one of the best survival games on the platform, too. I’d play it right now, if I were you.

Actually, if you’ll excuse me, I have some wolves to kill.

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