Have you ever stared into the cold empty void and wondered what’s out there? Have you ever thought, “I can conquer the wilderness with nothing but my survival skills and temerity”? Well, if you have played Frost, you may begin to rethink that love of survivalism & learn to appreciate the warm glow of your computer screen!
In Frost, players are tasked with outpacing a deadly freezing frost that is always nipping at their heels. To accomplish this task, you must make sure you are constantly traveling & overcoming obstacles until finally, the refuge you seek is reached. Each turn players will be dealt a hand of cards, an event card they can interact with to gain benefits or prevent dangers, a region card they must overcome to move forward and finally, several cards (called ideas) they can purchase and add to their deck. In order to complete a region and/or an event card, you must trade (discard) or sacrifice (lose permanently) your resources. The main resources include survivors, food and wood. You can obtain more resources by either A) Sending out survivors to explore or B) Using cards in your deck to create or hunt out more resources. Each turn you must decide how to best use the 5 cards in their hand to overcome events, move past the current region and hopefully, still obtain a few cards better than the ones they have. The goal of each day is to be able to complete a region card—this is how you “Travel” towards the refuge. If you are not able to trade in the resources needed for the round (also known as the day), you must end your turn. When your turn is ended, then the frost counter moves down a number. Every time you are successful in “traveling”, the frost counter goes up. If you ever reach 0 on the frost counter, you have succumb to the never ending frost and die. The final player option is to rest on their turn. Resting helps remove junk fatigue cards survivors can bring back while scavenging.
So, did we spend our entire time with Frost hoping frostbite would consume us whole, or did we find it to be cannibalism made fun?!?!
What you should know
Did we purchase Frost? - No, we were given the opportunity by Studio des Ténèbres to review.
Accessibility and complexity - We both agree that Frost falls in the lower mid-range of accessibility. Most adults and children of at least at Junior High School age should be able to grasp the mechanics of Frost. The challenge of the game itself is also moderated greatly by having several difficulties that are fairly well balanced.
Who might like/dislike? Those that enjoy solitary game experiences with more depth than Mahjong or Solitaire will enjoy Frost. People who like challenging games, those that are a fan of survivalist aspects in games or resource management will also enjoy Frost. This is also a game that brings a lot of fun from weighing risk versus reward. Frost will however not be for people that can’t handle tense experiences or losing to the luck of the draw. Its resource system may also confuse or frustrate some younger/less experienced card gamers as well.
Theme - NAILED IT! From the tiny story introduction to cards that allow you to cannibalize survivors and even the ominous music with the sounds of someone heavily breathing in the background, Jérôme Bodin just bathed Frost in theme!
Art & Graphics - Princess was kind of ho-hum on the art; she thought everything was kind of blah and depressing. Punk has argued to death with her, “That is the point of Frost. You are a group of survivors facing a bleak future where you cannibalize each other and fight just to stay warm!” Punk feels the white (or black in Night mode) hand drawn art, long dead stares and withered faces are perfect for the dreary existence Frost is trying to paint.
Audio: Princess felt that the game was trying a bit too hard at times. Punk again argued with Princess that he thought the audio did an amazing job of setting up the game’s theme. Frequent deep breaths and the crunching of the snow as your heroes move towards the game’s next challenge, music that sets a constantly encroaching sense of dread and survivors that groan when they die...what’s not to love?!? Punk even found the basic sound effects like picking up cards or canceling actions satisfying Even those basic noises had satisfying thuds or a deep *wonk* fitting the players actions. The developer did an amazing job recognizing sound is a pillar that theme must stand upon.
Control options – The mouse will work great for this game. Don’t understand what a card says or need it to be zoomed in? Well, right click it. You have the option to drag a resource or you can click it to select it and then click to where you want it to go. The control options for the mouse are very intuitive. The touchscreen controls are just as smooth. You can easily move the screen around and be able to zoom in and out effortlessly. Unfortunately there is no control pad support.
DLC - There is no paid DLC available for Frost, however the developer has already patched new content into the game twice and has plans to do so again in February!
Luck to skill ratio - 70% skill to 30% luck give or take 5-10%. Princess beat easy mode a few times, whereas Punk beat it consistently. That implies skill has to matter to some degree (especially given Punk has the worst luck in the world!). Luck can certainly screw you over and cost you MANY games, especially after you are playing on medium or higher difficulty (or the optional scenarios). You will have turns where your deck is 70% food and yet for 2 or 3 turns, you don’t draw that one single piece of food you need to advance past the current region. This is a card game, so you have to accept luck is part of the game...or be a Trump-level crybaby!
Local, Multiplayer and online gaming - None, None and none and with that we are done...with this section of the review at least.
Avoid it, buy on sale, buy it, worth more than asking price? – We are both in agreement that Frost is worth its asking price. It has great production values, an endless mode as well as multiple scenarios and it’s an all-around fun and creative game that nails its setting. For anyone who enjoys card or survival games, Frost is a must buy.
The Lonely Punk - Weighing risk vs reward....cannibal style!: - Frost is a tense, tense game where every decision you make will matter immensely. Problem is that most decisions you make are not concrete. You have a few cards that guarantee direct results like trading a food stuff for a survivor, but for the most part Frost is a game of odds and chances. Survivors sent out may return with a Fatigue card or worse, they may even die! And even if your survivor does return with a resource, it may not be the one you need. Many cards also do not offer guaranteed returns and instead give you a CHANCE at resources. All of this adds to the tension and theme Frost is trying to build IMO, as like in real life, foraging does not have guaranteed returns.
Princess - One of the quickest card games I have played: I really feel that fans of playing solitaire card/board games will really love Frost, if just for how quickly it plays. Frost is a good game regardless, but its speed makes it just so incredibly perfect for a quick round or three to pass times between obligations. I found myself playing Frost far more than how much my enjoyment normally would have me do so, just because it was so incredibly fast.
TLP - Fair number of unlockable cards: I always enjoy unlockables in games. First, there is something exciting about finishing up a run and seeing what new toys you have access to. Second though, it also means that a player is much less overwhelmed with options at first. It allows a game to slowly introduce you to new game play mechanics or just dangers/combos the player should be aware of.
TLP - There are no starting scenarios: Scenarios can be a great way to learn skills or simply challenge the skills you feel you have learned with a new encounter. Frost, however, does not start with any scenarios but instead, they are unlocked as you win games. This still makes scenarios a great way to experience new challenges, but it does leave inexperienced players out of the fun.
TLP - Changing difficulty is actually a REAL change: When you change difficulty in Frost for the first time, you will get a notification letting you know the game now has multiple objectives that can be completed. I really enjoy whenever switching difficulties has a true point versus just the A.I. players like an idiot on lower settings!
Princess - Not everything is explained or explained well: When you go from easy to medium difficulty, the game tells you about multiple objectives, but fails to tell you other things. A perfect example is you can no longer see a little helper table that shows a total of all the resources you have in your deck. There is also no explanation of bits and pieces like objectives nor information hover overs. So, if you do not understand what the objective "Look into the frost" means or what the little callout symbol means, then tough tittie said the kitty.
TLP - With simple changes, scenario mode offers up big challenges: Many games have scenario modes that feel like throwaways. They offer little more than a slight challenge such as "Gather X resources". Frost turns things on their head. For example, the first scenario turns your survivor cards into literal members of your family that you are tasked with protecting. Obviously, you will need to protect them from wolves and the cold, but this also makes even basic scavenging a huge risk as someone may die in the process! Small rule changes, drastically different games—now THAT is how you do scenario mode!
Princess - Night mode saves screens, eyes and looks nightmarish: Frost has an incredibly nifty little option called "Night mode". It changes the game’s all white, snowy backdrop and character backgrounds to all black and gives some of the art/games background pieces a washed out horror/nightmarish look. These visuals help to change the feeling and theme of Frost from one that is bleak and desolate to one that is outright nightmarish and more befitting of a game that makes cannibalism fun!
TLP - Endless scenario lets you challenge your limits: How long can you truly survive before the frost gets you? Well, this scenario will take you to your limits. You can keep playing for as long as possible, but you must keep your health at or above 1 and keep the Frost counter above 0. This is such a joy and headache to play. The challenge is not just with the game, but also with trying to beat my own amount of rounds played.
Princess - Possibly still a few bugs: Punk had a few turns where no cards or only 2/3 cards came up and he could never understand why. Meanwhile, I had one of my games of Frost completely crash after I killed a wolf. There were one or two more very minor issues that came up, but none enough to effect the entire game.
The Lonely Punk: Playing Frost, you can see that a lot of time and love went into its production. It’s one of the most complete experiences I have had in recent memory with a card or board game that is not based off a massively popular pre-existing physical board/card game. It is absolutely bathing in theme—heck, it took a shower in theme after it took a bath! The art, the audio and even your event and item cards all have unique little aspects that help create a feeling of survivors struggling desperately for refuge. A perfect example of this is when you use a card to cannibalize someone for food. Instead of just getting another card with fruit on it, you get a frozen lump of questionable looking meat. You chose to cannibalize poor little Jimmy, now you can stare at his frozen rump roast for the rest of the game!
Theme aside, I enjoy the game itself and that says a lot since I tend to hate games where I find myself losing at least 1 in 5 games due to circumstances beyond my control. Maybe that’s part of WHY I love Frost, because even those games serve to add to the overall tension, which then feeds back into its theme. After easy mode, every last game of Frost I knew would be a nail-biting, seat of my pants, how am I going to survive this experience. Even the games where I had a good run going with monster resource generation & a ton of survivors, I knew a few bad hands could, and likely would, ruin me if I was over confident. For its tension, for its theme, for its morbidly dark and moody setting and just being an all-around joy of a card game, I give Frost a big thumbs up!
Princess: Punk is right, theme matters! Frost is dripping with theme and I can see it’s a well-designed game. That is why it makes it so hard to understand why I did not really care for Frost. I can see and concede to every point Punk has made about theme and tight risk versus reward gameplay, but Frost just did not click with me. Maybe it’s because my first 2 to 3 games were all ended by wolves after just a handful of turns. Usually that’s Punks luck, so karmic justice showing me why he whines like a turd sometimes maybe? I was not a fan of the audio nor the art and just did not feel really attached to this card game. There were often times during playing this game that I just felt that I would not make it past the finish line—but I kept trying, and it would mostly pay off—mostly. I can recommend Frost to anyone because it is a tense and unique experience that has a metric ton more personality than most other solitaire experiences.