Image Source: Chucklefish

Wildfrost Review – A Clever Battle Game That Will Test Your Deck-Building Skills

Build your team, Snow your enemies, and protect the Naked Gnome at all costs.

Wildfrost on PC

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Wildfrost is a clever rogue-like deck-building battle game with a unique city-building twist. Your Leader is on a mission to bring back the Sun and tame the Wildfrost spreading across the land. Along the way, you’ll build a Town full of buildings that can unlock new Companions, Pets, and items to help you on your journey.

Overall, Wildfrost is a fun game for anyone who generally enjoys this genre. But it will demand a lot of patience for those who seek any significant progress.

If you generally enjoy deck-building games, there’s a lot to love about Deadpan Games and Gaziter’s latest offering. It features familiar deck-building mechanics that are easy enough to pick up, whether you’re experienced with the genre or not. 

Wildfrost battlefield
Image Credit: Chucklefish via Twinfinite

Your first and most important card is your Leader. If your Leader dies, your battle ends, and so does your story. Fortunately, they aren’t alone in the fight. You’ll also collect Companions, Pets, and items with special abilities to help your Leader take down their enemies.

Each Leader, Companion, and Pet card has a countdown timer. Every card played reduces the countdown timer, and when it reaches zero, the card’s ability activates. With many other deck-builders, you never know what your opponent has in store until they unleash it. In Wildfrost, all the cards are on the table, literally. I enjoyed how this unique mechanic removed a lot of the guesswork from the battles, allowing me to strategize several turns ahead.

And you do have to play your cards very strategically to gain an advantage in the game. Most do damage according to their damage rating, but many also have additional special abilities that make them formidable fighters — or fearsome foes. 

Some add Snow to their target, freezing their countdown timer for a certain number of turns; Demonize their target, doubling the damage they take; or add Frost to their target, reducing the damage they deal. Combining these unique abilities allows you to play your cards’ strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses and survive to fight another battle.

One particularly sinister card, the Makoko, has a damage rating of zero with a special countdown timer that activates every turn. Every time it activates, it increases its damage rating by one and attacks a target. It can quickly become a killing machine if not taken out early or Snowed, but it can take several hits before you deplete its eight health, distracting you from other targets while their countdown timers tick away.

Wildfrost charms
Image Credit: Chucklefish via Twinfinite

Your journey will take you past Frozen Travelers, Shops, and Charms, each of which will help you enhance your deck. Frozen Travelers and Chests, for example, add a new Companion or item to your deck, while Charms allow you to add a special ability to one of your cards permanently. You can buy cards, Charms, and more at shops — if you can afford them.

You also collect items that can help you out in battle, such as Woodhead, the wooden dummy that can take a hit for your team, Snow Sticks that apply Snow to your enemies, and Tar Blades that do damage according to how many copies of them you have in your hand.

All in all, the game’s battle mechanics and deck-building system are comfortably familiar. While the abilities of each card and the countdown turn counters are fairly original and unique to the world of Wildfrost, the game doesn’t really break any new ground.

Wildfrost Town
Image Credit: Chucklefish via Twinfinite

But in Wildfrost, you’re doing more than just building a killer deck — you’re building a Town, too. The game’s achievement system builds and upgrades different constructions in your Town, giving you valuable bonuses as you complete certain tasks like redrawing cards in battle 10 times, killing 100 enemies, and so on. 

These buildings unlock special bonuses, such as new Pets, Tribes to choose your Leader from (each with unique Tribe abilities), and items you might find in Shops or Chests on your journey. The city-building element means that with nearly every battle, you can increase the power of your deck, giving you an advantage over your enemies. 

Like most deck-building battle games, every encounter demands clever strategies and a bit of luck to take down the opposing team. But the ongoing city-building thread in Wildfrost keeps things interesting as you earn new ways to fight, drawing you back in for more so that you can get just one last achievement, even when things get frustrating.

Wildfrost dead screen
Screenshot by Twinfinite

And boy, do things get frustrating. Unfortunately, every time your Leader dies, you lose everything: your deck, journey progress, and any Charms you’ve equipped to your cards. Your Town remains standing, but you always start with a new Leader and a fresh deck. 

Even with all the advantages you can gain from building your Town, it’s hard to progress in the game. The Pet House, for example, unlocks new Pets that you can add to your deck. But since you can only have one Pet at a time, unlocking new ones doesn’t give as much of an edge as you might hope.

It’s a similar story in the Inventor’s Hut, where the Inventor crafts new items for your journey. Unlocking these new items doesn’t add them to your starter deck. Instead, you have to find them while you’re out in the wilderness in Chests and Shops.

During my test run of Wildfrost, I unlocked two inventions and only came across one of them in a Shop, and it cost too much for me to purchase (because your money resets each time you die, too) so I never even got to use it.

After several hours of play and at least a dozen attempts, I finally made it past the first boss, but it took an infuriating amount of time. There are two bosses that spawn at apparently random rates; Bamboozle and Infernoko. When fighting Infernoko, the Makoko I mentioned was bombarding my team with stronger and stronger attacks, often killing my Leader before I could hit the Infernoko once.

And when I did manage to kill Bamboozle or Infernoko, they respawned. Bamboozle becomes two enemies — Bam and Boozle — and Infernoko respawns with double health against my already depleted Leader and companions.

Though the enemy waves and their attacks are predictable, I never seemed to accumulate the right combination of cards powerful enough to take the boss down. You can choose your new Leader from a different Tribe to get different card classes, and you can employ new battle strategies to try to get further, but you can still only fight the same enemy sequences so many times before it gets frustrating and dull. 

I enjoyed playing Wildfrost. It had the familiar deck-building elements I’ve come to love from games like these, with enough clever twists to make it feel fresh. Unfortunately, constantly having to restart every time my Leader died made it impossible to progress, which was frustrating.

Admittedly, I’m not the most skilled gamer, so I typically only play games that I can enjoy when I’m losing or doing poorly. And Wildfrost is one of those games… to a point. Players who can get past the first boss will have plenty more fun, but the restart system nearly frustrated me before I could get there. 

I would recommend Wildfrost to anyone who enjoys deck-building battle games like it, but it’s probably not a great introduction for newer players to the genre. You can get it on PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch on Apr. 12, 2023.

Like most deck-building battle games, every encounter demands clever strategies and a bit of luck to take down the opposing team. But the ongoing city-building thread in Wildfrost keeps things interesting as you earn new ways to fight, drawing you back in for more so that you can get just one last achievement, even when things get frustrating. And boy, do things get frustrating.
  • Fun deck-building card battle game.
  • Clever city-building element keeps things interesting.
  • Exciting, strategic battle gameplay.
  • Constantly resetting deck makes progress feel impossible.
  • Playing the same sequence over and over to make progress is a little frustrating.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC, Switch.

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Juniper Finch
Juniper (they/them) is a lifelong gamer, starting with Mario 64 way back in the day. They love all things cozy, from relaxing farm sim games to endlessly rewatchable comfort TV. Their all-time favorite games are the Sims, Stardew Valley, Skyrim, and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.