Solitarica is a Solitaire-based RPG with some roguelike mechanics where you fight enemies by playing solitaire, casting spells, using equipment and defending yourself against their attacks in order to reach the end of a 'run', after which you get some currency you can use to unlock permanent upgrades for various decks, all with their small quirks. I tried it because it got raving praise by some people I follow and there are also no in-app purchases. It should've been a really cool game, but alas, a few design issues combined with the age - now more and more showing - of the equipment I use to game made the whole thing a frustrating slog.

Let's start with my biggest problem with Solitarica, the loading times are atrocious and the performance is really bad on my iPad 3. I've seen more of my fair share of that loading screen during the time I tried playing the game. It would've been fine if you only saw that once at the beginning, but no, you see that screen between every scene transition. And that's my second biggest issue with Solitarica; there is little gameplay for too much menu-ing. You can't just go from fight to fight with shop stops when needed, after each battle you need to go back to a menu where the next fight is revealed and then you can go shop and finally you can go back and play. Imagine sticking a long loading screen between all of these actions and it gets really frustrating.

The core gameplay is okay, even if a bit too random for my tastes. You flip cards and then you can link them to any card on the field that is higher or lower numbered than the card you have. Flipping and linking cards gives you mana of specific colors, allowing you to cast spells that ranged from useful - healing, destroying cards, etc - to mildly ineffectual - revealing cards. At the end of the day, however, you're a bit left at the mercy of how the cards are set. No matter which items or spells you have, if you draw a card that does not match any on the screen, there's nothing you can do. Enemies have varied effects and you need to juggle with your items and skills to defeat them.

Sadly, that's all I can say about Solitarica. I simply couldn't get into it because of poor performance. I feel like a game like this should've ran smoothly even on my old-ish device, since after all, it's a card game. I also wish that you could've chained combats together faster without any loading in-between. But like all my gaming wishes, I know that it's not something easy to do. Maybe Solitarica is for you, if you have a more modern device or a higher tolerance for loading, but it missed the mark for me.

AuthorJérémie Tessier
Categories3/5, iOS, RPG