There Is Magic To Be Found
HIGH The years of polish put towards the content show.
LOW The menus and system feel… familiar.
WTF I’ve never heard of a F2P do this before.
I had an ominous moment with Faeria, on boot-up, where I was told my Xbox Live tag was being linked to an external account. I was then presented with a super generic front-end UI that resembles a lot of free-to-play products that are crippled by microtransactions. Thankfully, that worrying moment didn’t last.
Faeria opens by talking of gods and warriors, and then ends on a question along the lines of ‘what does it all mean?’ that it never answers. That seems to be the extent of its plot, as the story seems like flimsy window-dressing for the gameplay.
Faeria‘s play is a mix of boardgame and deckbuilding elements. Two players face off with a grid of hexes between them and mana points to be captured at different corners. During their turn, the player can place hexes, play cards, or move units.
Placing hexes helps take the fight closer to the opponent, as they can be used as spawn points for cards or as a means of capturing mana.
Placing cards uses mana and may require specific types of hexes – woods, mountain, water etc. — due to elemental affinity.
Moving units gets them closer to the enemy in order to attack, or they can block attackers.
Combat is fairly straightforward. Each creature has a score for attack and health, and they deal their damage regardless of how much health they have. A creature with 1 HP will still deal its full damage, essentially.
Faeria‘s depth comes from the variety of cards, the tactics available, and the way that the AI forces the player to adapt.
One strategy might be to be aggressive — the player can place tiles straight towards the opponent and try and go for a quick kill, they can spread out to the mana pools and play a slower war of attrition, and more.
The cards also have diversity and synergies that will have players looking to build their 30-card decks around them. My early tactic was holding support cards in my hand that would boost attack and health and buff my attackers while having weaker cards that could ‘taunt’ opponents and slow them down.
Regardless of a player’s preferred strategy, Faeria offers a ton of content. The single player has a mix-up of missions and challenges that teach the player how to play and how setups work. There are also daily missions, co-op, and online missions that add more challenge.
While the whole package feels smooth and polished, unfortunately, there are some issues.
From a design perspective, the challenges, unlocks, and the UI all feel utterly rote, being nearly identical to at least a dozen other F2P titles –which is weird, because Faeria isn’t F2P anymore. It’s had a long, wild road to this release, starting as a paid product on phones and PC, then being free to play, and going back to being a paid product and eventually discontinued on phones.
A more serious issue is the way Faeria handles losing connection to its servers. It was fine on an excellent connection, but on a weaker service I lost connection almost once per game. In some cases it recovered and I was able to return to play, but there were multiple times when my controls stopped working and I was only able to forfeit the match. This is a technical stumbling block that needs to be addressed.
Those issues aside, Faeria is a complete package likely to please both casuals and more serious deckbuilders alike. However, Faeria as an online service isn’t stable without an excellent connection, so buyers approaching it from that angle should beware.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Abrakam SA and published by Versus Evil. It is currently available on Switch, PC, XBO, Mac and Linux. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 9 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. 1 hour of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E. The game is light fantasy, there is no prominent violence in here and the themes are very light. The content is fine, I’d be more concerned with potential microtransactions.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game is fully playable without sound. The text size cannot be altered, nor can the color be changed. (See text sample above).
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. Left Stick scrolls through options and moves cards. A button confirms choices, B button cancels, the RB and LB Buttons can be used to scroll through some items and the Menu button pauses the game.
He can be found on twitter, where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.