Tag Archives: card game

First Impressions: Griftlands

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

First Impressions: Arcanium

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

I have been on a huge card game kick recently. I have been laser focused in on competitive “Hearthstone” recently, and when I am not playing that, I am theory crafting decks in “Yu-Gi-Oh.” I also spent a lot of time on “Slay the Spire” last year, a rogue like card which focused on deck building and making your hero stronger through upgrades and items. Fast Forward a couple weeks and I see Jon of Jon Spencer’s Reviews playing a new but oddly similar game, “Arcanium.”

Given where my fixations have been for the last couple weeks, it felt like a no brainer to try it out. So, I went on steam, bought it for around 17 dollars, and gave it a spin last night on my stream. So, was it worth? Does it live up to some of its predecessors?

Well, its hard to say anything definitive after just a few hours of gameplay, but the game does have some very obvious strengths and weaknesses. First, “Arcanium,” in a lot of ways, does feel a bit more challenging than other roguelikes. The managing of three different heroes and decks both in combat and out makes it a significantly more involved experience. There were times when I would have to pause the music I had on just so I could concentrate on what I was doing.

This also brings up another related point, which is that with triple the characters comes triple the mechanics. In a game like “Slay the Spire,” managing your damage output and intake is limited to one body. However, in a game like “Arcanium,” understanding who your primary damage dealer, tank, and healer is becomes an essential part of playing the game well.

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The deckbuilding in general in this game is a lot of fun. Given that each character has a max of 12 card slots, it becomes a lot easier to focus in on making characters do particular things. This again helps to better layout a character’s role and identity within the run.

However, there are still a couple of things wrong with the game. While I was able to figure out a lot on my own because of my history with the genre, it does feel weird that the game has no tutorial. Given how niche the genre already is, it feels like one of those things that is kind of weird to forget. I suppose one could argue that the lack of a tutorial gives the game a bit more of a challenge straight up, but still feels like a poor decision.

Even if the game did have a tutorial, though, I honestly am not sure how much it would help. This is because a lot of things in the game feel unnecessarily hard to understand. Part of this has to do with the smaller text the game uses, which is likely their given how much is actually happening on screen. This disorganization felt a like a turn off while first playing through the game, though it does become a minor inconvenience after a while.

Overall, while their are some minor flaws which prevent the game from being a masterpiece, I can definitely see myself spending quite a few hours in the game. Given its relatively low price point, I would say any fan of both card games and roguelikes would definitely be happy to have this in their collection.


Have you folks played “Arcanium?” How did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!