Friday, December 1, 2023
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Deck ‘Em! Review

Ever since Hearthstone was released back in 2014, card games gained a massive surge in popularity. Every major series, from The Witcher with Gwent to now Marvel with Marvel Snap, has tried to capitalize on such success. However, between obsessive deckbuilding and scammy monetization tactics, one thing has been lost: simplicity. Some of the most popular card games in the world only require one deck, and they can be played endlessly either with friends or solo, without requiring weird add-ons or special packs.

Developer Frosty Pop has got card aficionados covered with their newest release, Deck ‘Em! The main selling point of Deck ‘Em! is “Solitaire meets Punch-Out!!”, an intriguing premise that is successfully carried over into the gameplay. Frosty Pop is currently in the midst of porting some of their mobile games to Steam, and Deck ‘Em!’s origin as a portable exclusive is quickly evident: there is no progression, there are no updates or power-ups, and each playthrough will last less than 5 minutes.

While this may be seen as a flaw by some, there is something inherently charming about Deck ‘Em!, as there are no pretences that this is anything more than a fun, light game to be enjoyed in short bursts. Its gameplay is very simple: players have to survive 12 rounds against a champion. At the beginning of each round, four cards are drawn from a deck, and they can either be champion cards (each with its own hit points), attack cards, block cards, or health cards. It is up to the player to choose in which order to use these cards: do they want to suffer some damage first and then heal up, or do they play the numbers game and block the weaker champion’s punch? 

Its basic structure and easy-to-understand rules make Deck ‘Em! an enjoyable game to try in-between work breaks or just to unwind for a bit. If taken competitively and as a serious card game, it will inevitably lead to frustration as the (literal) hands that the player receives are slaves to RNG (Random Number Generators). Some playthroughs will last one minute, as beefed-up champions will absolutely wreck the underdog fighter. Others may last six or seven minutes, leading to a well-earned and satisfactory win, before the whole process starts again. For the price of a cup of coffee, there is more than enough disposable fun to be had with Deck ‘Em!, the only downside being that most card games should aspire to be this easy to pick up and play.

A code of Deck ‘Em! was received for review purposes.

Nicolò Grasso
Nicolò Grasso
Filmmaker and cinephile, owner of the EnjoyTheMovies production company and YouTube channel. Also reviews video games for Cult Following and the EnjoyTheGaming YouTube channel.

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