First Impressions: Griftlands

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I mentioned in my first impressions of “Arcanium: Rise of Akhan” that Slay the Spire is a game that I have spent a lot of time with, more than 100 hours. The only other game I have put that much time into outside of “Smash” and “Hearthstone,” the one’s I play competitively, is “Final Fantasy 13.” Actually, wait, that is a lie. I forgot how long it took me to beat the original “Persona 5.” I might just be really bad at video games…

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that often times when I get obsessed with a game I end up putting an ungodly amount of time into it. It is not always a great personality trait to have, but ya know, its there. I say all of this because “Griftlands” is a lot of fun, and while I could also see myself putting a lot of time into “Arcanium” because the card game roguelike subgenre is just one that I enjoy a lot, there are some things that set it apart.

For starters, “Arcanium” being the visual mess that it is makes it a lot harder to concentrate on the particular tasks at hand. “Griftlands” circumvents this problem in a couple of ways. First, it just straight up has less happening on screen while arguable being more mechanically involved, even in just the normal story mode. This helps focus the player on important stats and deck mechanics. Second, the size of the display at the top feels just big enough to make sure the player knows they are there while also not being distracting. Lastly, the game also hides its big chunks of text and story within character dialogue by allowing one to hover over it and get a brief explanation.

Speaking of, something else that Griftlands also does that its peers within the genre do not is incorporate a significant story element. Each of the characters, Sal, Rook and Smith, each have a dedicated story mode which tell about their place in this bounty hunter filled world, and utilize mechanics related to that story. A good example of this is Rook’s lucky coin. Not only is the coin instantly recognizable, but also plays into how the character functions. Using a mechanic called gamble, Rook flips a coin and gains additional effects based on the flip. There are even certain cards whose effects revolve around rigging a certain outcome of the coin toss.

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One concern that was brought to my attention by others who have played the game a bit more is replay value. Generally, the core appeal of roguelikes is their diversity of experience, and thus being able to play the game in many different ways, making the replay value significantly higher. However, because the game is a bit more story focused, it may lack that same value due to having to slog through the story bits. While I can understand where that concern comes from, my minimal experience with the game thus far leads me away from making strong conclusions about this aspect. It might be worth noting that the game does have a total of three modes for each character: the initial story mode and two others

The art in the game is also incredibly nice to look at. As far as the characters go, it feels like the designers went the extra mile to make sure that even minor characters of an alien race were distinct enough to be recognizable outside of specific contexts. On top of that, the main characters also seem to have a well developed backstory and are each interesting enough to carry a few 3-4 hour runs at least.

So, yeah. There is a lot more that I probably could say about “Griftlands,” even with just seven to eight hours played, but overall it is just a solid game. Anyone who is remotely interested in this type of gameplay should definitely peep it, especially considering its only about 20 dollars after tax on steam right now.


How do you all feel about “Griftlands?” Let me know in the comments below.

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