You may not know this, but I'm a huge board game fan (or nerd if you prefer), and some of my favorite games to bring to the table are deck-building games. My affinity for deck-building probably comes from being a Magic: The Gathering player for years during my teens, but it also comes from my love of strategy. The problem with deck-building games is they can be so strategic that only hardcore gamers can really get into them.
Meteorfall: Journey does something I have never seen before, which makes a deck-building game that's fun, easy to learn, challenging to master, and it's available on your iPhone or iPad.
When I tell you Meteorfall: Journey is a deck-building game, you probably think of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, The Elder Scrolls Legends, or Hearthstone, but that couldn't be further from the truth. If you strip Meteorfall: Journey down to its bare bones, it's actually a choose your own adventure roguelike dungeon crawler. Confused? Let me explain!
At the beginning of each adventure, you have to choose a hero. Your options are Bruno the stylish knight, Greybread the old and senile wizard, Mischief the troublemaker, and Rose the healer with a dark heart. Each hero has a different deck of starting cards and their own unique play style that will allow for different strategies. Once you choose your hero, every decision in the game is made by either swiping left or swiping right. The area you want to explore, the monsters you want to fight, the cards you want to play during battle, and even what you want to do during the story — all of it is decided by you with a swipe. Each adventure contains a series of encounters and then a boss battle; encounters can be monsters or various other events. Choose carefully!
Although there are a few different types of encounters, battles are the most common and make up the meat of the game.
Each monster you face will have a deck of cards, health points, and stamina all labeled on its player card just like your hero's. If you choose to fight a monster, the battle commences and you will start choosing which cards to play.
To play a card, you swipe right on the card and resolve its effect immediately. You can also choose to skip a card by swiping left, which allows you to regain stamina. You need stamina to play cards, so you can't let it get too low or you hero will be useless. Choosing when and what cards to swipe left on is an important part of the game.
Some cards are simple: swipe right to attack and swipe left to skip and gain some stamina; however, other cards are more strategic. For example, the Rusty Helm doesn't do any damage when you use it, but allows you to take one less damage each time your opponent hits you. Some cards even work in conjunction with other cards giving you the ability to build an engine that produces the results you want.
As you defeat battles you can experience and even level up which allows you to add more cards to your deck — which isn't always a good thing — and heals you to full health.
Decisions throughout the story
While battles are a big chunk of the game, Meteorfall: Journey also has a few other events that can happen as encounters.
Sometimes you'll be given a choice between two different actions, these actions are as follows:
Shop: Allows you to buy new cards to add to your deck. Blacksmith: Allows you to upgrade cards in your deck. Temple: Allows you to get rid of one card in your deck. Treasure: Allows you to get up to two random cards. Rest: Returns you to full health and maximum stamina.
These decisions can greatly affect the outcome of your game and remember it's a roguelike game, so if you die during your adventure, you have to start back at square one.
The last type of event in the game are special events. These are random, can pop-up at any time, and like most things in the game, offer you a choice.
These events range from giving you cards, taking away cards, awarding you with money, or upgrading your current cards. You'll need to decide what to do when the time comes.
Why I love it
This game feels new, fresh, and is a ton of fun. I have been playing it all week, so much so, that I didn't even want to put the game down to write this review.
Deck-building is one of my favorite mechanics in any game period, and it's so refreshing to see it used in a way that allows for more casual gamers to get involved. The game does a fantastic job of teaching you the mechanics and gameplay really quickly so you can enjoy the experience. Plus, the fact that you can play the entire game with one finger, makes Meteorfall: Journey super approachable and easy to play for whenever you have downtime.
Don't get me wrong though, Meteorfall: Journey has a lot of strategy built-in and it requires some real skill to advance through each area and defeat the Uberlich at the end of the game. I have played this game countless times over the past week and only once did I make it all the way through. You have to learn what card combinations work when to add cards to your deck, and more importantly when to remove cards from your deck.
Ultimately, I think Meteorfall: Journey is an absolute must own game for any mobile gamer, and it really did an amazing job of separating itself from every other game on the market.
Other games this week
I can't write a full review of every game I play, but there are plenty of great games every week that are worth checking out. Here are some other games I enjoyed this week!
POKA 2: An arcade driving game where you work as a getaway driver! Pick up your heist crew and escort them to safety all during a chaotic chase against the cops. Complete the heist and earn money to buy new sets of wheels and other fun things. $1.99 in the App Store.
Bring You Home: Unravel the story of Polo, a cute little alien hero who will need to travel across all kinds of worlds in a frenzied chase to rescue his kidnapped alien pet. $2.99 in the App Store.
The Room: Old Sins: The latest installment in The Room series, it's got everything you could possibly want from the franchise. Spooky settings, challenging puzzles, and wonderful graphics don't skip out on this one! $4.99 in the App Store.
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.