Card Crawl – Throwing Down The Card Game Gauntlet

4.0 Overall Score
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Design: 4/5
Duration: 3.5/5

Entertaining and engaging card combat | Strategy can overcome some luck | Accessible for all levels

A bit repetitive at times | Could use tougher decks and character upgrades


Imagine solitaire, but with a combat based set-up more akin to a dungeon crawler than a traditional game of solitaire. That’s the basis for the new iOS game Card Crawl, which presents an all new deck of cards complete with enemies, potions, and swords to interact with. There’s a 54 card deck, and your goal is to completely clear every card with four cards dealt at a time, and three cards to use per turn. In each game, you’re given an avatar with limited health, and you need to keep your character alive through all 54 cards.
There are a lot of intricacies involved in Card Crawl, so you will need some strategy in using specific cards at just the right time. Every turn delivers numerous decisions based on the cards that are dealt to make for a completely engaging experience. With each deal of four cards, you need to act on three cards to get the next deal. The actions include adding a sword or shield to your hands, storing a health potion in your backpack, or taking on an enemy. As you make your way through the deck, you will also be dealt special abilities to help you contend with particularly difficult enemies. Part of the game is the luck of the draw, but you can overcome luck with timing, skill, and in and out knowledge of the cards.

The heart of Card Crawl is consistent each time you play, so it’s essentially the same game every time with differences based on when the cards turn up. There’s a little bit of redundancy with the same set-up each time, though there’s an alternate game mode in which you can choose your own ability cards. There are 15 different ability cards to unlock to give you something to shoot for, and that can help enhance the constructed mode. It would be nice to upgrade your avatar’s health, and potentially face tougher decks. You can compete with friends on the leaderboard based on how much gold you can collect in a given game. The game also gives you a riskier choice to trade in specific cards for coins, rather than using those cards, which helps on the leaderboards, but hurts your chances of survival.

The game is simply fun above all else as you drag your sword card on a tough enemy, and then let that enemy come at your shield in a weaker state. You can also let enemies right at your character, and then replenish yourself immediately with a potion. There’s added challenge in that when you use coins and potions they take up your empty slots, which then can’t be enabled for other actions. It’s all a balance, and it’s definitely an accomplishment when you make it through the whole deck. The card combat gameplay is depicted with a deluxe 3D art style for the card dealer, and some fine caricatures for the cards. It’s also worth noting that the game has an inviting nature, and tutorial to let anyone enjoy all that Card Crawl has to offer.

Card Crawl ($1.99, Universal) delivers an entertaining card combat experience that is well worth picking up for both fans of the genre, and those unfamiliar with card games.

$1.99, Universal


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